Conditional Discharge can be a Second Chance at a Clean Slate
Marijuana use and possession have become a frequently violated offense at the Jersey Shore in Ocean County and Monmouth County. A drug offense is something everyone wishes to avoid having on their record. Having a drug offense on your record can cause detrimental consequences, especially when applying for jobs or even retaining employment. If you are charged with a marijuana offense, you may still have an opportunity to keep your record clean. Assuming that you have no prior drug offenses, obtaining a conditional discharge for marijuana possession is an option worth discussing with an experienced criminal defense and marijuana attorney if you value a clean record.
A conditional discharge is a diversionary program that allows first time offenders to avoid being convicted of simple marijuana charges amounting to a disorderly persons offense (i.e. possession of marijuana under 50 grams (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4)), possession of paraphernalia (N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2), or use of marijuana (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b)). Most simple marijuana charges are disorderly persons offenses which are handled in New Jersey in municipal courts. The specific requirements to obtain a conditional discharge and the consequences of a conditional discharge are cited in New Jersey Statute 2C:36A-1.
Supervision Required for Conditional Discharge
In obtaining a conditional discharge, you are agreeing to receive supervisory treatment (similar to probation) for a period of up to three years, usually one year, and to pay significant fines adding up to $833.00. In return, the court will suspend further proceedings of the drug charge during the conditional discharge period. The court may also impose other penalties pursuant to a conditional discharge, such as suspension of your driver's license. As part of the supervisory treatment program, you will be required to meet periodically with your conditional discharge/probation officer and submit to and pass urine tests. If you successfully complete the supervisory treatment program and remain out of trouble for the conditional discharge period, the court will dismiss the drug charge and you will avoid having a conviction. If you fail a drug test or are charged with another offense during the conditional discharge period, the Court will reinstate the proceedings of the original marijuana charge.
While a conditional discharge can prevent a drug conviction from appearing on your record, it will not remove the arrest from your record. After the conditional discharge is successfully completed, you can have the arrest removed from your record through a process called expungement.It is important to note that settling for a conditional discharge may not be your best option, especially if the facts and circumstances of your case make it likely that you will be found not guilty at trial or if evidence can be suppressed by the filing of a motion to suppress . Also, remember that a conditional discharge is only available once! If you agree to a conditional discharge, you will neither be eligible for another one in municipal court nor for pre-trial intervention in New Jersey Superior Court on an indictable charge. (Court Rule 3:28, Guideline 3(g).
Call Villani & DeLuca for Conditional Discharge Information
If you are charged with a simple marijuana offense, you should hire a local criminal defense attorney who has experience representing clients in the municipal court that you are summonsed to. Villani & DeLuca can help you obtain a conditional discharge if it applies to the unique facts of your case. Call (732) 709-7757 today for a free initial consultation.