Many people who are charged with crimes are law-abiding citizens who find themselves embroiled in unfortunate situations. As such, criminal defendants in New Jersey who meet certain criteria may request pre-trial intervention (PTI), which allows them to avoid the rigors and consequences of a typical criminal trial. Only certain people are eligible for PTI, though, as discussed in a recent New Jersey opinion in a case involving assault. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is in our best interest to speak to a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant became intoxicated and struck another individual in the head with a beer bottle when he was in a bar. The defendant admitted to being intoxicated and intending to cause the victim harm, even though he did not know him. The victim suffered a laceration and required medical attention.

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including assault and weapons offenses. He applied for PTI, and Probation recommended him for admission, but his application was denied. He appealed, and the Superior Court remanded the matter, after which his application was again denied. He appealed once more, but his second appeal was denied. He was convicted as charged, and he appealed a third time, arguing the trial court erred in not granting his PTI appeal.

Criteria for Pre-Trial Intervention

On appeal, the court explained that PTI is a diversionary program that allows some offenders to bypass criminal prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services. The aim of PTI is to deter future criminal activity. Prosecutors are granted broad discretion in determining who should be admitted to PTI and who must be prosecuted through a traditional trial. Thus, a court asked to overturn a trial court’s rejection of PTI has a limited scope of review and can only overturn the decision if the defendant convincingly and clearly proves that the trial court’s decision demonstrates an obvious and gross abuse of discretion.

An abuse of discretion may be present where the denial of PTI was based on irrelevant or inappropriate factors, did not involve a consideration of all relevant factors, or otherwise amounts to a clear mistake in judgment. In the subject case, the court agreed with the trial court that no such error existed and affirmed the trial court ruling. Specifically, the court found that the defendant did not demonstrate what relevant factors the prosecution failed to consider or what irrelevant factors played into its decision.

Speak with a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney

People charged with crimes have many rights and, in some cases, they are able to avoid prosecution through PTI. If you are charged with a crime, it may be in your best interest to apply for pretrial intervention in New Jersey, and it is prudent to speak to a lawyer. The trusted criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are proficient at defending people charged with crimes and we can advise you of your options for seeking the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a conference.