A relatively new program, the Conditional Dismissal Program (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-13.1) allows municipal court defendants similar advantages as superior court defendants. Before the Conditional Dismissal Program, only those charged with indictable crimes in superior court could take advantage of Pre-Trial Intervention. The Pre-trial Intervention diversionary program allows qualifying defendants to complete probation with specific conditions rather than go to prison. Since 2014, however, the municipal court has had a diversionary program for qualified offenders called conditional dismissal. If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, it’s possible that you may be eligible. If you have an upcoming case in Municipal Court, this program could be right for you. You may be interested to learn more about conditional dismissal if you are facing charges, so read on for further details about the program. If you would like to discuss your case and if you might be able to benefit from the Conditional Dismissal Program, contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer at Proetta, Oliver & Fay today.
Our criminal attorneys have helped numerous clients with gaining admission into the conditional dismissal program and successfully expunging their criminal records after completing the program’s requirements and getting the charges dismissed. If you have been charged with shoplifting, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, trespassing, or another disorderly persons offense, we encourage you to contact our office today at (609) 850-8284. Former NJ Deputy Attorney General and Firm Partner William C. Fay, IV, will be happy to discuss the specific criminal charges against you, evaluate your eligibility for a conditional dismissal, and how we can assist you with securing enrollment to have your charges conditionally dismissed and expunged thereafter.
What is a “Conditional Dismissal” in New Jersey?
A conditional dismissal describes what it is: you can get minor criminal charges dismissed on certain conditions. For example, the Conditional Dismissal Program allows you to keep your criminal record clear of a conviction after law enforcement charges you with disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses by avoiding trial and getting the charges dismissed. A clean record is essential for many reasons, background checks for employment and subsequent violations being two of them.
What are the Conditions of Conditional Dismissal?
The conditions for completing the program include staying out of trouble and having no arrests or further offenses. In addition, you may have to remain substance-free and submit to drug testing. Once accepted into the program, you agree not only to stay free of any offenses for the imposed duration (typically one year), but to pay any restitution or other fines for the offense. You may also have to participate in a class, counseling, or a similar rehabilitative measure. Once you complete the program, the court dismisses the charges against you, allowing you to take steps to clear your record completely.
If you fail to meet the program’s conditions, you can be terminated and convicted of the charges, paying all fines and penalties that come with the conviction.
Are all Charges Eligible for the Conditional Dismissal Program?
You can get a conditional dismissal for disorderly persons offenses like simple assault (not involving domestic violence) and low-level shoplifting, or petty disorderly persons offenses like disorderly conduct, harassment, and trespassing, that the municipal court handles. However, the program does not apply to all municipal court offenses. A judge may assess the circumstances of the violation, your profile, and the victim’s wishes, among other criteria, before approving an application to the Conditional Dismissal Program.
Are Some Offenses Disqualified from Conditional Dismissals?
Charges relating to domestic violence, drugs, gang activity, organized crime, public trust malfeasance, offenses against the elderly or a public officer, animal cruelty, DWI charges, and municipal ordinance violations are not eligible for the Conditional Dismissal Program.
How do I Qualify for the Conditional Dismissal Program?
Along with eligible charges after January 4, 2014 (the start of the program), your record must be clear of any convictions for disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, or crimes. You must also have not been in prior diversionary programs to qualify for the Conditional Dismissal Program. Finally, you must apply to the court for conditional dismissal, submit your fingerprints with your application for verification of your criminal record, and then get court approval.
I did not complete the conditional dismissal program before, but I have completed Pretrial Intervention (PTI). Can I get a conditional dismissal?
Yes. The program requires you to plead guilty, or a judge must find you guilty to be eligible for conditional dismissal. However, you do not need a conviction to qualify. In fact, you apply for a conditional dismissal before conviction.
Will the Conditional Dismissal Program Impact my Immigration Situation?
Getting into the program requires you to plead guilty to an offense. If the offense can get you deported under federal law, such as crimes of moral turpitude, conditional dismissal will not shield you from immigration violations. The prerequisite of a guilty plea or finding to enter into the program can lead to possible consequences under federal Immigration and Naturalization laws and regulations. For example, federal law restricts immigrants adjudicated by a judge or jury as guilty of a crime of moral turpitude. In addition, courts have interpreted shoplifting items valued at less than $200.00 as a moral turpitude crime. Before applying for conditional dismissal, it is smart to confer with a criminal defense and immigration attorney if you have doubts about the program and your immigration status.
How long does a Conditional Dismissal take?
You are under the probation department’s supervision for usually one year before you complete the program and can dismiss your charges.
Will I Have to Pay for the Program?
Along with your application, you must submit a $75.00 application fee. Additionally, you must pay any restitution and fines for the charge or charges. There may be other assessments or costs associated with the offense. For example, you may have to reimburse the merchant for items you shoplifted and pay civil fines too.
What Happens after the Conditional Dismissal Program is Complete?
The court dismisses the charges against you after meeting all the program requirements. Thus, you have no convictions on your record, though the arrest still appears.
Can I get the Arrest off my Record after my Charges are Conditionally Dismissed?
You can clear the arrest record by expunging it six months after the program completion.
Mount Laurel Criminal Lawyers
Though you may qualify for conditional dismissal, you may not know this is even an option for your criminal case in municipal court, much less the best one for you. For this reason, it is very beneficial to consult with an attorney before jumping into the program. Until you know all of the program’s criteria and impacts on your specific situation, as well as discuss possible defenses with an experienced criminal defense lawyer first, there may be reasons to seek enrollment or work toward a more favorable outcome. If you have immigration issues or are likely to be named a defendant in a civil suit, you may want to take the case to trial. After a guilty plea or determination to get into the program, a court or jury may deem the plea an admission of wrongdoing in a civil suit.
Be sure to have your case reviewed and to seek assistance investigating all of your options. Contact the criminal attorneys at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay to receive a free consultation by phone or come to sit down with an attorney at our criminal defense firm’s office in Burlington County before applying for a conditional dismissal. We can answer all of your questions and concerns and ensure you understand your case’s potential pitfalls and strengths.
If you have a municipal court case in Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, Edgewater Park, Florence, Pemberton, Moorestown, or another town in Burlington County, and you have questions about the conditional dismissal program, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Evesham Office at (609) 850-8284 for a complimentary consultation.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.
525 Highway 73, Suite 104, Marlton, New Jersey 08053 Phone: 609-850-8284 By Appointment Only
100 Horizon Center Boulevard, Hamilton, New Jersey, 08691 By Appointment Only
Point Pleasant Office
3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
By Appointment Only
180 Kings Highway, Middletown Township, New Jersey 07748 By Appointment Only