A person’s arrest for the recreational use or possession of marijuana, hash or drug paraphernalia can have a better outcome in the court through grant of a “conditional discharge” under New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1. This law allows the municipal judge to grant a conditional discharge, which is a special supervisory treatment similar to probation. The defendant will be supervised by attending visits to a probation office to get a urine drug test during their conditional discharge time period of typically one year. A conditional discharge is a way to give a person arrested for a drug charge a second chance to avoid conviction for a simple possession of hash or marijuana (also referred to as weed, pot, reefer, ganja). In order to successfully complete the conditional discharge program, the individual cannot get arrested during the conditional discharge period and recreational drugs are not detected in their drug testing.
The Requirements for a Conditional Discharge in NJ
- The arrest was the first drug offense for the individual
- The person has not previously been given a conditional discharge or a PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention)
- The court hearing the charge is a New Jersey municipal court
- The person does not pose a danger to the community (a non-violent offense)
- The offender pays the appropriate court fees
- The arrest was for any of these simple marijuana or hashish disorderly persons charges:
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4). Possession of marijuana (weed) under 50 grams, or hash under 5 grams
N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2. Possession of drug paraphernalia (e.g. pipe, bong, rolling papers, scale)
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b). Marijuana or hash use or being under the influence
Other Factors for a Conditional Discharge
If you are arrested for a drug offense in New Jersey, it is important to speak with a criminal attorney right away, before your first court appearance. Hiring an experienced drug charge lawyer at Villani & DeLuca prior to your court date will enable you to postpone your arraignment while you prepare your defense or discuss your conditional discharge options with an attorney. As listed above, the judge needs to see that the defendant is not a danger to the community in order to get a conditional discharge. A drug-related offense for marijuana is a criminal charge and not looked at favorably by the court. Although drug treatment is not a requirement in order to get a conditional discharge, if the individual charged speaks to a drug counselor for help, the judge can look more favorably at the circumstances.
Think of a conditional discharge as a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the court to pardon your mistake if you stay clean and out of trouble. A visit with a probation officer for drug testing can happen at any time during the conditional discharge probationary period. Marijuana can stay in your system for one month and cause you to fail a drug test. After successful completion of a conditional discharge, the next step is to ask the judge for dismissal of the drug-related charge. Six months after dismissal, you can then apply to the court to have the arrest removed from your record by a process called expungement. To find out more about getting a criminal record expunged, refer to our content on getting an expungement in New Jersey.
Think You May Qualify for a Conditional Discharge? Contact a NJ Criminal Lawyer Today!
If you are facing a drug charge for a drug other than marijuana, there may be a chance to get your charge lowered so that conditional discharge may be an option for you. At Villani & DeLuca, our knowledgeable criminal lawyers have experience in the municipal courts with drug & drug paraphernalia offenses. We may be able to help you get a conditional discharge if it applies to the facts of your case. Call Villani & DeLuca at (732) 965-3350 today for a free consultation with a NJ criminal defense attorney.