New Jersey Conditional Dismissal Program: Purpose, Process, & Eligibility
Discuss with a Criminal Lawyer the Alternatives to Criminal Conviction in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
Being charged with a crime in New Jersey is a serious matter that carries steep penalties, including high fines and often jail time. For first-time offenders and juveniles, a criminal conviction could make a devastating mark on their life trajectory because having a permanent record affects an individual’s capacity to obtain certain jobs and engage in many opportunities. For this reason, the criminal justice system in New Jersey offers an alternative for some first-time offenders who commit minor crimes. One version of the state’s take on diversion programs is the Conditional Dismissal Program, which only applies in Municipal Court. Read on to learn more about the Conditional Dismissal Program and how to know if you’re eligible.
At The Law Office of Peter Bronzino, we have successfully provided assistance to defendants applying for the conditional dismissal program in towns like Little Silver, Point Pleasant, Lavallette, Beach Haven, Stafford, and Holmdel. If you have any questions about how Diversion programs work, or if you are eligible or not, do not hesitate to contact our Brick office at (732) 812-3102 or fill out our online form, and be sure you are headed in the right direction. Our team of criminal defense lawyers has the experience and knowledge to answer those or any other questions you might have about the program.
Understanding Diversion Programs in New Jersey
Diversion programs are a form of alternate outcome handed down to a first-time offender before a trial that gives them the opportunity to correct their behavior in a way that avoids the need for a criminal conviction and therefore, a more extensive sentence and permanent record. In New Jersey, there are several. The primary one in Superior Court is called the Pretrial Intervention Program, while in Municipal Court, one is called the Conditional Dismissal Program and the other is Conditional Discharge. Some examples of court diversions that may be ordered exclusively or within these programs include community service; restitution to the crime’s victims, thereby returning what was stolen or lost; and rehabilitation education programs.
What is the Conditional Dismissal Program in NJ?
The Conditional Dismissal Program is New Jersey’s official form of diversion for minor first-time offenders who have not be charged with drug-related offenses or certain other disqualified charges in Municipal Court. Through the NJ Conditional Dismissal Program, first-time offenders may be given the opportunity to participate in an alternative rehabilitation program that replaces the need for a criminal conviction and permanent criminal record. New Jersey Revised Statute 2C:36A-1 speaks to the Conditional Dismissal Program for first-time offenders of certain minor crimes, as well as conditional discharge of a minor drug charge for a first-time offender.
How to Determine Eligibility for the NJ Conditional Dismissal Program
In order to be eligible for the Conditional Dismissal Program, you must be a first-time offender in every sense: you cannot have committed a misdemeanors, which in New Jersey are called petty disorderly persons offenses and disorderly persons offenses; and you certainly cannot have committed a major crime. You also must never have taken advantage of the Conditional Dismissal Program or a similar program before as an adult, even if doing so left your permanent record clean up to this point. Finally, in order to be considered for a Conditional Dismissal Program, you must plead guilty to the minor crime for which you were charged.
In addition to meeting the above requirements, the court will look at the nature of the crime committed. Was the crime violent? What was the defendant’s age and reasoning for committing the crime? What was the effect of the crime on the surrounding community and the victims in particular? Would allowing the defendant to participate in a Conditional Dismissal Program have a negative impact on others involved in the case? These and other questions are taken into consideration by the municipal court when determining eligibility for, and approval or rejection of, application for participation in Conditional Dismissal Program.
Certain types of crimes do not provide eligibility for a Conditional Dismissal Program, and application for the Program will be rejected. They include domestic violence, DWI, organized crime, and animal cruelty, among others. As noted above, first-time offenders accused of non-violent petty disorderly persons offenses and disorderly persons offenses may be considered for the Conditional Dismissal Program.
A $75 application fee is required to apply for the New Jersey Conditional Dismissal Program. The non-financial ‘fine’ is that the defendant must plead guilty to be eligible for the program.
Conditional Discharge vs. Conditional Dismissal
As noted above, Conditional Dismissal Programs exist so that first time offenders of certain minor crimes can face an alternate pre-trial sentence that would result in no permanent record. Conditional discharge generally is the applicable program for a first-time offender involved in a minor drug charge.
Consequences for Violating the Conditional Dismissal Terms
If an offender violates the terms of the Conditional Dismissal Program, their original charge will be reinstated and will go to trial, likely leading to a sentence with appropriate penalties and a criminal conviction on their record.
Contact our Criminal Defense Attorneys to Explore the Conditional Dismissal Option in Toms River, Brick. Point Pleasant, and other towns in South Jersey
Have you been charged with a minor crime, and it’s your first offense? Having the support of a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential at this time, as experience and professional guidance can go a long way in your case. Given the case-by-case nature of the determination of eligibility, it is a good idea to have an attorney review your specific case, the charges at hand, your existing record, and what your chances of being accepted in the Conditional Dismissal Program are.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., we know how important it is to your professional and personal success to have a clean record and continue to function as a member of society. We successfully represent clients in Lacey, Red Bank, Seaside, Jackson, Sea Girt, Toms River, Freehold, Ocean Township, and towns throughout Ocean and Monmouth Counties to find alternative ways to resolve their criminal cases without leaving a permanent footprint on their record.
Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential consultation to go over your charge and your options.