In New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 defines the purpose of and the criteria necessary for admittance into a PTI program. All States have similar programs. Rather than continue criminal proceedings, the policy behind PTI is to provide applicants on an equal basis an opportunity to avoid prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services or supervision when it can be expected to deter future criminal behavior. If the term of PTI is completed with no further legal problems, the charges can be dismissed.
Among other criteria, PTI Program Directors and Prosecutors consider specific criteria in determining whether to accept an applicant into PTI. The facts of the case, the likelihood of change through the program, the needs of the victim and society, the history of an applicant’s violence towards others, involvement in organized crime and other criteria are evaluated to determine admission.
If the Program Director and the Prosecutor deny admission into PTI, there are specific appeal processes that need to be followed. The burden on an applicant is significant – the challenge, to a Criminal Judge, is to be based upon alleged arbitrary and capricious action, and the Defendant has the burden of showing that the Program Director and Prosecutor abused discretion in processing the application.
In State v. Wallace, 146 N.J. 576 (1996) the New Jersey Supreme Court opined:
“It is fairly understood that the prosecutor has great discretion in selecting whom to prosecute and whom to divert to an alternative program, such as PTI. State v. Leonardis 73 N.J. 360, 381 (1977). The prosecutor’s discretion is not unbridled, however. If a defendant can clearly and convincingly establish that the prosecutor’s refusal to sanction admission into the program was based on a patent and gross abuse of discretion a reviewing court may overrule the prosecutor and order a defendant admitted to PTI. A “patent and gross abuse of discretion” is more than just an abuse of discretion as traditionally conceived; it is a prosecutorial decision that “has gone so wide of the mark sought to be accomplished by PTI that fundamental fairness and justice require judicial intervention. State v. Ridgway, 208 N.J. Super. 118, 130 (Law Div. 1985).” The Wallace Court continued, “In State v. Bender, 80 N.J. 84, 94 (1979), we elaborated on the patent and gross abuse of discretion standard: Ordinarily an abuse of discretion will be manifest if defendant can show that a prosecutorial veto (a) was not premised upon a consideration of all relevant factors, (b) was based upon a consideration of irrelevant or inappropriate factors, or (c) amounted to a clear error in judgment…. In order for such an abuse of discretion to rise to the level of ‘patent and gross,’ it must further be shown that the prosecutorial error complained of will clearly subvert the goals underlying Pretrial Intervention.”
The Law Office of Jay Weinberg carefully prepares individuals who have a chance at being accepted into PTI for their interview process. It’s important to discuss what the State needs to see and not just send a client down to apply in a cavalier manner. We have also won, on appeal, rejection into the program, which requires significant legal work. A criminal record can result in substantial fines and jail time, loss of current and future employment opportunities, deportation, even for green card holders, and other liabilities. Entry into PTI is a win in a criminal case.
If you are facing criminal charges call The Law Office of Jay Weinberg to discuss your situation.