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Avoiding A Conviction When You Are A First Time Offender

In NJ, there are three (3) diversion programs that allow an individual to avoid prosecution for a disorderly persons offense, as well as certain indictable crimes (i.e. Superior Court Charges).  Eligibility for these programs is limited to first time offenders.

The first program is conditional discharge. Conditional discharge applies in cases involving simple possession of marijuana (i.e. less than 50 grams) or hashish, and drug paraphernalia cases. Eligibility for the conditional discharge program is limited to those who are  first time drug offenders and are facing a disorderly persons offense involving a controlled dangerous substances. Conditional dismissal is another diversionary program available in municipal court and it applies to non-drug related disorderly persons offenses. If someone is facing a shoplifting charge, disorderly conduct, or other violation of this grade and has no prior convictions, conditional dismissal is a viable option. The third way of diverting prosecution is through Pretrial Intervention. Charges that are eligible for this program are third degree and fourth degree crimes. Pretrial Intervention is not something that is utilized in municipal court as it only applies in indictable cases — that is, felony criminal offenses that can only be dealt with at the Essex County Superior Court.

A prerequisite to all of these programs is generally no prior convictions of a similar nature. The reason for this requirement is based on the idea that someone should not be diverted with they have shown a pattern of anti-social behavior (e.g. multiple violations of the law). Another important requirement of each program is that the applicant not have any prior diversions. What this means is that you cannot seek a conditional discharge if you have a prior Pretrial Intervention or visa verse.

If you would like to obtain more information about any of these programs, please do not hesitate to contact our Newark Criminal Defense Firm. An experienced attorney on our staff is prepared to answer all of your questions and advise you as to your options. Call us at anytime 24/7 at 973-710-1520.