What is a Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)?
If you or someone you care for has recently been arrested for or charged with a crime in New Jersey, you may be wondering about what pretrial intervention is and how it can help. Pretrial intervention, most commonly referred to as PTI, is a diversionary program that provides first-time offenders with alternatives to incarceration and other mechanisms within the criminal justice system. In addition to allowing offenders to avoid jail time, PTI also offers a chance at clearing your criminal record.
There are several benefits to PTI, multiple criteria that defendants must meet to be eligible and many conditions that participants must satisfy in order to successfully complete the program. Before moving forward to pursue PTI in your case, you should first consult with a knowledgeable NJ criminal defense attorney who has experience successfully fighting for pretrial intervention for his or her clients.
Frank T. Luciano is a near 40-year veteran in New Jersey’s legal system and has extensive knowledge about PTI, how it works and if it’s right for you or someone you care for.
The Benefits of The PTI Program
The pretrial intervention program seeks to render early rehabilitative services in favor of incarceration. The hope is to deter further criminal behavior and to help individuals avoid the stigma of a criminal record. Here are some of the specific benefits of the PTI program:
- Upon completion of PTI, there will be no record of any conviction
- PTI provides early resolution of a case
- PTI limits the burden on courts, which allows them to focus on more serious offenders
- PTI offers a chance to reform criminal behavior in its infancy
- PTI reduces court costs
If you are selected for PTI, you will be required to meet certain requirements (aside from staying arrest-free), including passing drug tests, payment of fines, maintaining employment, community service and psychological evaluations.
Determining PTI Eligibility
- Not everyone qualifies as a good candidate for PTI enrollment. The final determination will be made in a joint decision between the probation department and the prosecutor assigned to your case. Here are some of the criteria that must be met in order to be eligible for PTI:
- Must be an indictable offense: You will not be able to use PTI if your crime is a misdemeanor. PTI is designated for low-level indictable crimes (meaning third or fourth degree generally).
- Must be a first offense: People who have prior convictions are not eligible.
- Must be 18: With some exceptions, offenders under the age 18 will not be considered.
- Must be first diversionary program: PTI is meant to help first offenders avoid the stigma of a criminal record. If you have already enrolled in a diversionary program, you will not be given another second chance.
- Must be non-violent: You can’t have hurt anyone or attempted to hurt anyone and still be eligible for PTI
- First and second-degree offenses are usually not eligible: Serious criminal offenses like burglary and aggravated assault are not generally eligible for pretrial intervention, but exceptions can be made in certain situations.
There are other eligibility requirements spelled out in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12, but your eligibility will mostly hinge on your ability (or your attorney’s ability) to prove that you are a good candidate for rehabilitation and are unlikely to be a repeat offender if given a second chance.
Applying for PTI in New Jersey
If you’ve determined that PTI is a program that you’d like to pursue, you must act immediately following your charge or arrest. Applications for PTI in New Jersey must be made no later than 28 days following your indictment. The application review will include an interview of the defendant by a member of the Superior Court. If you are rejected from the program, you may apply for an appeal within 10 days of the decision.
The best way to ensure acceptance into New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, especially if you have questionable eligibility, is to hire an experienced attorney to argue on your behalf. NJ criminal defense lawyer Frank T. Luciano knows what it takes to be accepted into the PTI program and how to position you as a strong candidate. Don’t take any chances with your criminal record or your freedom. Contact Frank T. Luciano at 973-471-0004 to learn more about the program, your eligibility and to greatly improve your chances of being accepted.