NJ: What Is PTI?
PTI stands for Pretrial Intervention. Pretrial Intervention is one of what are called New Jersey“diversion” programs. (Other diversion programs in New Jersey are conditional discharge, conditional dismissal and, for juveniles, deferred disposition.)
A person accepted into PTI does not get a trial. Normally he does not plead guilty. (Sometimes he does.) Either way, he is placed on probation supervision for a period of time. Typically that period is one year. It can be up to three years. Conditions go along with that probation supervision. At the end of the period, if the applicant has complied with all of the conditions of probation, the charges are dismissed. After dismissal, the applicant will continue to have a record of an arrest. However, he will not have a record of a conviction. Under New Jersey law, that arrest record, itself, can be expunged several months later. PTI is normally (but not always) an excellent outcome for someone charged with a crime. It is sometimes referred to as your “get out of jail free” card.
NJ: Who Can Get PTI?
Not everyone charged with an offense in New Jersey qualifies for PTI. New Jersey PTI is normally limited to first-time offenders. PTI is intended for persons charged with offenses that are considered less serious. A person can receive PTI in New Jersey, at most, only once per lifetime. Anyone who previously received or even applied for a conditional discharge is disqualified from receiving PTI.
Applications for PTI are reviewed by the Criminal Division Manager, by the county prosecutor, and by the judge. Those reviewers look at many factors in considering the application. Those factors include the charge itself; the circumstances of the charge; the applicant's prior record; whether the victim objects; and how granting PTI might affect prosecution of co-defendants. Some applications for PTI are granted very smoothly. Others require supporting documentation that is detailed, comprehensive, and carefully thought out. Denials of PTI can be appealed. New Jersey law concerning whether an applicant in a particular situation can obtain PTI can be complicated.
NJ: After Receiving PTI
Being enrolled in PTI does not put someone “home free.” Until the program has been completed, it is necessary to comply with all conditions of enrollment. Failures to comply will cause the PTI supervisor to ask the judge to remove the defendant from the PTI program. If the judge grants that application, the charges are restored to the active trial list. After that, the New Jersey legal system will require the defendant to either accept a plea bargain, or proceed to trial.
For some purposes, dismissal of criminal charges as a result of successful completion of PTI is not considered a “favorable disposition.” One example of this is the situation of an employee suspended without pay on account of the filing of those charges. Employment contracts or statutes sometimes entitle those employees to back pay upon reinstatement following “favorable disposition.” Where terms of employment are defined by an employment contract, that employment contract must be examined closely to determine whether dismissal of charges on account of successful completion of PTI constitutes a “favorable disposition” for purposes of recovering back pay. For the situation of employment by government agencies, a leading case on that issue is In the Matter of Clifton Gauthier, Rockaway Township, 461 N.J. Super. 507 (App. Div., 2019). Gauthier held that successful completion of PTI did not constitute a “favorable disposition” for purposes of determining entitlement to back pay.
NJ: PTI Lawyer Allan Marain
Allan Marain is a New Jersey PTI lawyer. He has successfully guided hundreds of clients through the PTI process. He has obtained PTI for persons charged with fourth-, third-, and second degree crimes. He is available to apply his knowledge, experience, and expertise to your matter.