There is perhaps nothing scarier than the thought of spending months or even years behind bars. Making matters worse for individuals convicted of criminal offenses in New Jersey is that NJ state prisons are notoriously harsh places to live. That’s why anyone charged with a crime in New Jersey should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle their case and help them avoid the most severe penalties.
If you have been accused of a crime, a qualified criminal attorney may be able to help you fight your charges and win the case either before the case reaches trial or in the courtroom, if necessary. Of course, the best option is getting the charges dismissed or dropped by the prosecutor. However, that is not always possible – which means you could be looking at maximum penalties if convicted at trial. The good news is that NJ prosecutors and judges are occasionally willing to allow an offender to stay out of jail and instead enter an alternative sentencing program. These programs are typically available to individuals who have been accused of committing non-violent criminal offenses and who meet certain requirements.
Some of the most common alternatives to jail for criminal defendants in New Jersey include the following:
Drug Court is a special program that is occasionally made available to non-violent, first-time drug offenders. When a defendant enters Drug Court, they will be required to pay fines and adhere to strict probation requirements such as attending drug addiction counseling sessions and passing mandatory drug tests. The idea behind Drug Court is that first-time offenders can benefit from treatment for their drug addictions.
Conditional discharge is an alternative sentencing option for individuals who are charged with simple possession of marijuana in NJ. The program allows the drug offender to undergo supervisory treatment and stay out of jail. Once an offender has been granted a conditional discharge, they must adhere to all court-imposed obligations or risk being re-sentenced for their offense.
Municipal court defendants who have been charged with disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses other than drug possession may be eligible for conditional dismissal. The conditional dismissal program is similar to conditional discharge because it allows the offender to pay fees and court costs and secure a dismissal of their charges, with the dismissal being reversed if the offender fails to stay out of trouble.
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)
PTI is a very popular diversionary program because it allows prosecutors to avoid the hassle of a trial by resolving the criminal case very early in the legal process. First-time offenders are allowed to use PTI in New Jersey once in their lifetime, so long as they were accused of a non-violent offense and meet program requirements such as mental health counseling, drug education, and supervised probation. Once an offender has successfully completed the PTI program, all records of their conviction will be expunged. This allows the offender to stay out of jail and avoid a criminal record.
If you have been charged with a crime in Atlantic County or anywhere else in NJ, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney representing you. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will fight to keep you out of jail. Contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.