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Second Chances for First-Time Drug Crime Offenders

You have been arrested for possessing a small amount of a controlled substance for your personal use. Often times drivers are pulled over for minor traffic infractions in Middletown, Red Bank, Holmdel, Monmouth Beach, Eatontown, Tinton Falls, or Fair Haven and an officer smells marijuana. The result is a charge of possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana. You don’t want to go to jail and you want to preserve a clear record.

Are there options?

If this is your first time being charged with a drug crime, there are options: Conditional Discharge and Pre Trial Intervention. These full court diversions are designed to give first-time drug crime offenders a second chance: Clean up their act, stay off drugs and they will stay out of jail and keep their record clean of arrests and convictions for possession of illegal drugs.

If you are arrested for possession or distribution of controlled substances, Monmouth County drug crimes attorney Tara Breslow-Testa is the first person you should talk to. Born, bred and educated (Rutgers) in New Jersey, Ms. Breslow-Testa has served time on both sides of the bench. She knows how to square off against aggressive prosecutors, and intuitively understands when judges are prepared to be for giving second chances, or when they want to throw the book.

For a free consultation, call Tara Breslow-Testa at (732) 784-2880

Conditional Discharge: Municipal Court

The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2c:36A defines Conditional Discharge for certain first offenses. In the case of drugs, the crimes must be no greater than disorderly persons - which usually means a small weight of controlled substances meant for personal use.

A defendant is eligible for Conditional Discharge only if they have not been convicted of a drug offense in any state, or previously granted a Conditional Discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention.

The application for Conditional Discharge is made by motion to the Municipal Court Judge with notice given to the Municipal Court Prosecutor. It is the judge’s discretion as to whether the defendant is qualified for Conditional Discharge and after running the defendant’s name through the State Bureau of Identification to check for prior criminal history - the judge can grant that the defendant be placed under supervisory treatment - which usually means a drug treatment program and random drug testing.

The supervisory treatment cannot be longer than the maximum period of confinement for the crime committed, and it cannot be longer than three years. The court can also suspend driving privileges for six to 24 months. If the judgment of Conditional Discharge is made before a defendant pleads guilty, then the driving suspension is optional. If a defendant pleads guilty and then is granted Conditional Discharge, the driving privilege suspension is mandatory.

There are fees associated with Conditional Discharge: $45.00 application fee, mandatory $500.00 DEDR penalty, $50.00 lab fee and $33.00 in court costs. All of which are a better option than paying fines and/or going to jail.

A drug crimes lawyer serving Monmouth County, Tara Breslow-Testa understands the conditions of Conditional Discharge, and she will work with you, and the prosecutor and the judge to be granted that chance to make good on your crime.

Pre-Trial Intervention: Superior Court

Similar to Conditional Discharge, Pre-Trial Intervention is designed to offer rehabilitation to first-time drug offenders being tried in Superior Court. This is a leniency program designed to free citizens accused of minor drug crimes to get help to prevent further criminal activity, and also free up the court calendar - which is swamped with drug cases small and large from one end of New Jersey to the other.

A drug crimes attorney serving Monmouth County and all of New Jersey, Tara Breslow-Testa will file an application for PTI with the Criminal Division Office where the charges against you have been filed - as soon as possible, and no later than 28 days after you are indicted. Once the application is submitted, you will be interviewed by a staff member of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court, who will write a report suggesting admission or rejection from the PTI program. That report is sent to the prosecuting and defending attorneys, who will argue whether PTI will help you stay out of trouble in the future.

Paraphrasing New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:43-12 Pre-Trial Intervention is limited to persons who have not previously been convicted of any criminal offense under the laws of New Jersey, or under any criminal law of the United States. Pre Trial Intervention provides the opportunity to avoid ordinary prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services or supervision which can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior where there is a connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative or supervisory need.

Pre Trial Intervention is designed for adults, and residents of New Jersey, although non-residents can submit an application. Pre Trial Intervention is applicable only to criminal and municipal courts. Minor violations that might result in a suspended sentence without probation or fine are not eligible for Pre Trial Intervention. People on parole or probation are generally excluded from Pre Trial Intervention as are defendants who have been granted a previous diversionary program or Conditional Discharge.

Pre Trial Intervention is also designed to provide an alternative to prosecution, where a defendant might be irreparably harmed by criminal sanctions, and if the alternative has a chance of deterring future criminal conduct.

Pre Trial Intervention prefers “victimless” offenses - such as possession of small quantities of controlled substances - and also to clear court calendars of minor offenses so they can focus on “serious criminality and severe correctional problems.”

Once admitted into Pre Trial Intervention, you will be required to undergo counseling and/or psychotherapy and/or drug abuse prevention education and/or employment training and placement and/or supervised probation - for a period of one to three years.

Whatever the court orders, you must follow those orders to the letter. If you fulfill all the requirements of PTI, your charges will be dropped and record will be cleared.

If you fail to complete the program or test positive for drugs, you will be removed from Pre Trial Intervention and returned to the criminal process - which could result in fines, jail time and a criminal record.

Practicing drug crimes law in Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer and Middlesex County, Tara Breslow-Testa understands the algebra of Pre Trial Intervention for drug crimes - crime, past history, prosecutors, judges - and you want her by your side when charged with minor drug violations that could become major fines and jail time.

Better Call Tara

This is the first time you have been arrested for possessing illegal drugs, and you’re more than a little worried about the consequences: present and future. The smart move is to call Monmouth County drug crimes lawyer Tara Breslow-Testa, who will take you under her experienced wing and work hard to find a way to divert you into a program, and away from prison, fines and a permanent criminal record.

For a free consultation, call Tara Breslow-Testa at (732) 784-2880