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South Jersey Law Blog

UPDATE: Governor Christie Conditionally Vetoes Conditional Discharge Legislation

Posted by Matt Rooney | Nov 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

Back in October, we told you about a bill pending before the New Jersey State Legislature that would have extended conditional discharge eligibility to first time offenders for a number of non-drug related offenses: 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. Now we have an update for you… on Monday afternoon, Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the conditional discharge legislation. What does this mean? A veto, of course, is a procedural mechanism whereby a chief executive (like a governor or president) prevents the enactment of a piece of legislation before it becomes law. A conditional veto exactly means what it sounds like – the governor stops a particular bill from becoming law, in whole or in part, with certain conditions attached. In New Jersey, the bill is returned to the legislature with suggested changes or amendments. It's a way for the governor to say “hey, I don't hate your bill, but I don't love it as presently written for the following reasons.” In this instance, Governor Christie expressed approval of the bill's general intent but objected to the fee structure associated with the vetoed legislation: I am unwilling to limit access to meaningful and necessary alternatives to traditional criminal justice adjudication to only those able to pay steep costs and increased fees. Our government must not only produce creative solutions to our problems, it must do so within its available means. We can, and will, find ways to improve the lives of all our citizens without raising costs. Therefore, I recommend maintaining the existing $75.00 fee for pre-trial intervention and conditional discharge programs, and setting the fee for conditional dismissal in municipal court at the same rate of $75.00.” Click here to read the full text of Governor Christie's conditional veto. We'll keep you in the loop as to whether the Legislature submits an amended bill that meets with the Governor's approval. In the interim, if you or a friend is charged with a disorderly person charge, we may be able to help. Before you plead guilty, get a criminal record and pay substantial fines, contact the New Jersey Criminal and Municipal Court Defense Lawyers at DeMichele and DeMichele either online or by telephone at 856-546-1350 for a free and confidential consultation. Many times we can offer fixed and flat fees for our services.  

About the Author

Matt Rooney

Practice Areas: Family Law (including Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, and Domestic Violence); Municipal Court; Personal Injury; Residential Real Estate; Civil Litigation; Collections.


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