New Jersey offers persons charged with marijuana-related offenses two kinds of “diversion” programs. The first kind is the conditional discharge. We discuss the conditional discharge in detail on a different page on this site. The other kind of diversion program available in New Jersey is Pretrial Intervention. Pretrial Intervention is typically referred to as just PTI.
Assuming a diversion is available, the particular type of diversion, conditional discharge or PTI, will depend on the specific marijuana-related charge. If the charge is just simple possession of marijuana in a quantity of fifty grams or less, then the potential diversion will be the conditional discharge. When the quantify exceeds fifty grams, or if it is alleged that the marijuana was intended for distribution, or actually distributed, then the only potential diversion that New Jersey offers is PTI. Put differently, PTI is available in New Jersey only on indictable offenses. And conditional discharges are available in New Jersey only on non-indictable charges. These non-indictable charges will almost always be handled in municipal court.
Persons admitted into PTI are placed under probation supervision. Normally they are not required to enter a guilty plea. Normally they do not have a trial. The probation supervision comes with conditions. These conditions will include payment of fines. (Technically they are “assessments,” and not “fines”; fines apply only when a person has been convicted. In practical terms, there is no difference between an assessment and a fine.) Conditions will also include submitting to drug tests when requested by the probation department. Upon successful completion of the probation supervision period and satisfaction of all conditions, the charge or charges are dismissed. The arrested person will still have a record of an arrest, but she will not have a record of a conviction. And even that arrest record can be expunged at a later time.
Whether PTI is available at all depends on many factors. The person's past record weighs heavily. The particular charge is important. PTI is more readily available with simple possession of marijuana charges, as opposed to possession with intent to distribute, or actual distribution of marijuana.
New Jersey PTI is often a good outcome. That is not always true, however. A straight dismissal, or even a not guilty verdict after a trial if available, is better for various reasons. Firstly, the dismissal or trial acquittal is eligible to be expunged immediately. There is no waiting period. Secondly, under New Jersey law, a person can receive a New Jersey diversion only once per lifetime. Therefore if the State has a weak case, using up that once-in-a-lifetime diversion could make it unavailable if needed for a subsequent arrest. Thirdly, others will assume that the person who received PTI was actually guilty, and just got off on a technicality. These assumptions may exist even for the dismissal or the jury acquittal, but the assumptions may be not as strong. For all these reasons, it is often wrong to consider the decision to accept or reject PTI a “no-brainer.” Rather, it is a decision that should be discussed fully with an experienced New Jersey marijuana law lawyer.
Allan Marain and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey Marijuana lawyers. Between them, they have represented clients charged with marijuana-related offenses in New Jersey for over seventy-five years. They have successfully guided hundreds of persons charged in New Jersey with marijuana-related offenses into PTI. They are ready to review your charges, and discuss whether PTI is the right decision for you.
If you have been charged in New Jersey with one or more marijuana-related offenses, call them. They can help.
Allan Marain |
Norman Epting, Jr.
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