Proposed Law to Increase the Availability of a Conditional Discharge in Municipal Court
The New Jersey Senate today approved legislation (S-2169) to provide a conditional assistance program in Municipal Court for certain first-time offenders. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman. In June, this legislation was unanimously passed by the state Assembly and now heads to Governor Christie for his consideration. We will keep you posted on the status of this important pending Municipal Court legislation. A condition discharge is what the name implies. The charges against a defendant are dismissed if the defendant meets certain conditions. For a the first time drug offender this usually means staying drug free for a court specified period of time and submit to random drug testing. any further arrests during the probationary period would also violate the conditions for successful completion of the program. Under current law, the only offenses eligible for a conditional discharge are certain drug-related offenses. S-2169 allows discharge for many non-drug offenses, such as disorderly person's offenses, which have not been able to participate in similar programs before. “This initiative allows a broader range of first-time offenders to benefit from services to more quickly turn around their lives. This balanced measure includes rigorous eligibility and program requirements to assure public safety.” Noted Senator Bateman If adopted, this legislation will give municipal court prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys more options in resolving pending charges without the imposition of a criminal record. “Most first-time offenders will be able to use this type of program to avoid having a record that cannot be expunged for years after the sentence is served,” Bateman added. “This program decreases the likelihood of recidivism and fosters participants' re-entry into the workforce.” If signed into law, a conditional dismissal will not be available to any person who has previously participated in a conditional discharge, conditional dismissal, or supervisory treatment program such as PTI. In addition, a person is not eligible for conditional dismissal if the offense for which the person is charged involved:
- organized criminal or gang activity;
- a continuing criminal business or enterprise;
- a breach of the public trust by a public officer or employee;
- domestic violence;
- an offense against an elderly, disabled or minor person;
- an offense involving driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug;
- animal cruelty;
- or any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense under chapter 35 or 36 of the Criminal Code.
After taking into consideration the eligibility criteria, the defendant's criminal history and the prosecutor's recommendation, the court may, approve the defendant's participation in the conditional dismissal program and place the defendant under a probation monitoring status for a period of one year. The court may also impose financial obligations and other terms and conditions in accordance with the bill. If you or a loved one is charged with a disorderly person charge we may be able to help. Before you plead guilty and get a criminal record, and pay fines contact the New Jersey Conditional Discharge Lawyers at DeMichele and DeMichele at 856-546-1350 for a free and confidential consultation. Many times we can offer fixed and flat fees for our services.