On September 9, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed bill A3598 which will dramatically affect sentencing for municipal court offenses. In sum, this new law establishes a conditional dismissal in municipal court, similar to Pretrial Intervention (PTI) in the superior court. A conditional dismissal is a supervisory program aimed at rehabilitating the defendant. Upon successful completion of the program, the defendant’s charges are dismissed. To learn more about the law and how it may affect you, see the below Q&A:
Q: Who is eligible?
A: First-time offenders. People who will not be eligible include those who have previously completed a PTI, conditional dismissal or conditional discharge program. In addition, individuals charged with a gang-related offense, an offense against public trust, domestic violence, an offense against the elderly, a disabled person or a child, animal cruelty, DWI, or a drug offense. People charged with drug offenses may still apply for a conditional discharge.
Q: What factors does the court considering in determining acceptance into the program?
A: The court considers numerous factors, including but not limited to: nature of the offense, facts of the case, the motivation and age of the defendant, the desire of the complainant or victim to forego prosecution, etc.
Q: What are the requirements of the program?
A: The court may impose financial obligations, no subsequent disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions in the United States, this State or any other state, and lastly, compliance with all elements of the program.
Q: Will I be eligible for an expungement following the completion of a conditional dismissal program?
A: Yes, an individual may apply for an expungement 6 months following the dismissal of the charges pursuant to the conditional dismissal.
This law does not take effect until 120 days after its enactment, applies to any person who commits a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense on or after the effective date of the bill. Therefore, if you are currently facing pending municipal court charges, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.