Today Your Legal Corner will discuss “3 Sentencing alternatives for specific criminal offenses.”
If you have children, you know the importance of having rules to guide their behavior. When they violate those rules, they certainly know the consequences. However, as I have, I’m sure you also have had your kids plead for mercy asking for “one more chance.” I usually went along with this if it was their first time breaking the rule. However, this wasn’t true if they were repeat offenders and had already received “one more chance.”
Similarly, certain criminal offenses provide an opportunity for a second chance or a sentencing alternative to avoid jail.
Conditional discharge in NJ
In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess or distribute drugs. Penalties can include jail time, loss of license as well as significant fines. For marijuana possession and related offenses where the amount is less than 50 grams, first time offenders may be eligible for a conditional discharge.
In addition to being a first drug offense, the offender must not have participated in a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention or Conditional Discharge previously. Additionally, the judge must find that it is in the best interests of the community to afford the defendant the opportunity to participate in a conditional discharge program.
Acceptance in a conditional discharge program will suspend the proceedings and ultimately result in the dismissal of the charges as long as there are no further criminal offenses during the time of the program which can last six months to two years in the discretion of the court.
Conditional discharge fees
There is an application fee and other mandatory penalties totaling approximately $700 but there is no loss of license, jail or conviction on your record as long as the conditional discharge program is successfully completed.
Pretrial Intervention Program in NJ
The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) provides defendants, usually first time offenders, with an opportunity to participate in early rehabilitative services as an alternative to prosecution under the criminal justice system. Any individual charged with an indictable offense may apply for PTI. This program lasts one to three years.
The benefits of the Pretrial Intervention Program are that successful completion results in dismissal of the criminal charges and therefore no criminal record. PTI generally excludes defendants who have previously been convicted of an offense or had the opportunity to participate in a similar program such as a conditional discharge.
In order to be accepted into the Pretrial Intervention Program in New Jersey, a defendant usually needs the consent or authorization of the prosecutor. The program is designed for adult offenders and typically must be New Jersey residents. Application into the program should be made as early in the process as possible in order to avoid unnecessary time or expense.
Home Electronics Detention Program
In Gloucester County, the Home Electronics Detention (HED) Program provides a court ordered sentencing alternative to incarceration. The program is available for both male and female adult as well as juvenile offenders.
Typically, only nonviolent offenses are eligible for consideration for the program. The judge handling his or her matter may refer an offender. The Jail Warden who has final say as to admission into the program reviews the judicial recommendation.
Home Electronics Detention Fees
Approved offenders will have an electronic device attached to their ankle and are required to stay in their residence or other approved location. There is a one-time enrollment fee along with a weekly maintenance fee. This program allows the offender to maintain their employment while satisfying their sentence.
As you can see, sometimes second chances are not just for kids! Please consult an attorney well versed on criminal law for more information on these and other programs.
If you or someone you know is interested in having their record expunged, it’s usually best to first consult with an expungement lawyer in NJ first.
Till next time, God Bless, keep smiling when Your Legal Corner will discuss “What to consider when retaining a lawyer.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio.
For questions, contact Victoria at [email protected]
Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.