The Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) program offers defendants an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process. PTI offers early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior. The PTI program is based on a rehabilitative model that recognizes the connection between the offense charged and the needs of a defendant. Additionally, this model is based on the reality that social, cultural, and economic conditions often result in a defendant’s decision to commit crime. Simply put, PTI attempts to solve the problems which tend to result from the conditions that appear to cause crime. Ultimately, the program seeks to deter future criminal behavior by a defendant.
There are several benefits to PTI. First, if the program is successfully completed, there is no record of conviction. As a result, the defendant avoids the stigma of a criminal record. Second, early intervention encourages rehabilitation soon after the alleged offense, in an attempt to correct the behavior that led to the alleged crime. Third, the high costs associated with the formal court process are avoided when a defendant is accepted into PTI. Fourth, the early resolution of the case serves the interests of the victim, the public and the defendant. Finally, PTI lightens the scheduling burden on Courts and permits resources to be devoted to more serious crimes.
The period of PTI probation may average from one to three years. There are certain basic conditions that are imposed on those accepted into the program. For instance, PTI often requires random urine monitoring. The program may also require a term of community service, payment of restitution, and submission to psychological and/or substance abuse evaluations. Upon successful completion of PTI, the original charges are dismissed. More important, there is no record of conviction. If a defendant fails to successfully complete PTI, then he or she is terminated from the program and the case is returned to the trial list.
Any defendant who is charged with an indictable offense may apply to PTI. However, admission guidelines stated in the Court Rules provide certain criteria. First, PTI is offered only to adult offenders and not juveniles. Second, PTI was created for New Jersey residents. Nevertheless, residents of other states who are charged with offenses in New Jersey may apply to the program. Third, only defendants charged with criminal offenses may apply for PTI. Those charged with motor vehicle offenses may not apply. Fourth, defendants charged with less serious offenses are not eligible. Fifth, defendants who have been previously convicted are generally not permitted into PTI. Sixth, as a general rule parolees and probationers are not permitted. Finally, defendants who have previously been granted a diversionary program or conditional discharge are not permitted into PTI.
Watch Al Mollo in a three part television series that discusses this issue and more. To see Mr. Mollo discuss PTI and other criminal matters click the image below.