State Supreme Court Says Dropped Charges Can’t Rule Out Pretrial Intervention in NJ

If you are worried about previously dismissed or dropped charges affecting your current eligibility for PTI or Pretrial Intervention in NJ, you can breathe easier. On Jan. 8, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a defendant’s prior dropped charges (adult and juvenile) may not be a factor when considering pretrial intervention (PTI). According to the court, allowing prior dropped charges to factor into a decision for PTI would be an impermissible inference of guilt. Since there was no conviction for these charges in the past, they cannot factor into sentencing for any potential convictions in the future.

“Proper consideration requires more than a prior arrest when the identified information is reviewed in connection with the rejection of a pretrial intervention application,” [NJ Supreme Court] Justice Lee Solomon wrote. “The prosecutor and the program director may not infer guilt from the sole fact that a defendant was charged, when the charges were dismissed.”

State v. K.S.

The NJ Supreme Court reached its decision regarding prior charges influencing PTI while reviewing State v. K.S. The defendant in this case is eligible to be considered for PTI, despite serious charges (breath test refusal, third-degree aggravated assault on a police officer, third-degree resisting arrest, fourth-degree charges of throwing a bodily fluid and criminal mischief).

“Because the record contains no admission of conduct to support the truth of the allegations in defendant’s dismissed adult charges and diverted and dismissed juvenile charges, those charges were not appropriate factors to be considered in deciding whether to admit defendant into PTI,” Solomon said.

In certain past cases, prior dropped charges had factored into a decision regarding PTI. Going forward, this ruling by the NJ Supreme Court will alter the way in which PTI is chosen.

What is Pretrial Intervention?

Pretrial intervention is a program that is designed to rehabilitate rather than simply incarcerate when it can be reasonably expected to deter future crime. Once PTI is complete, charges may be dismissed. The program was created and implemented by the state in 1970.

The program is meant for adults who are usually first-time offenders and have not previously been permitted into the PTI program. The program usually lasts between one and three years.

Contact a Criminal Defense and Pretrial Intervention Lawyer in NJ

A NJ criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights if you have been charged with a criminal offense. An experienced attorney will discuss your options, such as applying for the PTI program and help determine your eligibility. Contact a representative of Villani & DeLuca for a free consultation when you call (732) 965-3350.