Under New Jersey's current laws, persons who have been charged with felony and minor drug offenses can have the charges dropped through pretrial intervention. However, a new bill would allow people charged in municipal courts also to have the same benefits.
Under the existing pretrial intervention program, first-time offenders can elect to have a crime dropped from their criminal record under certain conditions. Typically, the person may be required to perform community service and undergo counseling. In almost all cases, persons may be required to stay out of any legal trouble for at least three years.
However, there's a catch. To currently be eligible for the pretrial intervention, you have to be charged with a felony offense. Persons charged with misdemeanor non-drug offenses, like shoplifting, cannot elect to have a pretrial intervention. Back when this program was initiated in 1979, it was believed that including persons charged with all kinds of crimes would be a huge burden on the system.
That could soon change if the bill is approved. The bill has been sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Democrat-Mercer. His bill would allow persons charged with misdemeanors also to have their charges dropped through pretrial intervention. According to him, it is ridiculous that a person needs to be charged with a more serious offense to be eligible for the pretrial intervention -- which would allow him to have the charges dropped and maintain a clean record -- while a person charged with the low-level offense would have to go through the system, be charged, and if convicted, wait for five years to get the record expunged.
The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with DUI, sex crimes, drug crimes, assault, fraud and other types of crimes across New Jersey