A conditional discharge is a diversion program offered through the State of New Jersey for certain first-time drug offenders. If you have been charged and arrested for a disorderly persons offense drug charge such as Possession of Marijuana under 50 grams, Drug Paraphernalia, Failure to Turn Over Drugs to Law Enforcement, Prescription Drugs, or Under the Influence of CDS, then you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. Acceptance into the conditional discharge program allows defendants to avoid a guilty plea and any prosecution by participating in probation. At Proetta & Oliver we have helped hundreds of clients secure admittance into diversion programs such as the conditional discharge program. We represent clients throughout Union County, New Jersey including Linden, Scotch Plains, Elizabeth, Clark, Union Township, Springfield, Rahway, Cranford, and Roselle Park. If you would like to learn more about how our law firm can help you, then contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Conditional Discharge Law: N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1
The terms and definitions of the New Jersey Conditional Discharge program are contained in N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1. This statute outlines the regulations, requirements of eligibility, terms and length of probation and extent of supervision. Below we have highlighted different important points regarding a conditional discharge.
- No Criminal Record – Successful completion of probation under 2C:36A-1 will not result in a criminal record and accepting admission into the program will not be considered an admission of guilty or a conviction. The logic behind this is that the defendant is “diverted” from the criminal court process and prosecution. While the defendant completes the conditional discharge period, the charges will remain in abeyance and once the probation is successfully completed, all the charges will be officially dismissed.
- Eligibility Requirements – The requirements for admittance include no prior convictions for drug crimes and no prior diversion programs such as Pre-Trial Intervention or a prior conditional discharge
- Term of Probation – the normal length of probation for the conditional discharge program can be between 6 months and one (1) year. All conditional discharge participants are normally referred to the county probation department for monitoring. However, under most circumstances there is almost no supervision with the exception of sporadic drug testing here and there.
- Violation of Conditional Discharge – If an individual violates the conditional discharge, the probation department will issue a notice of termination to go back before the municipal court judge. If the judge determines that the defendant has violated his conditions, then he will be terminated from the program and the original complaint is reinstated.
Conditional Discharge vs. Pretrial Intervention
Conditional discharge and Pre-Trial Intervention are both diversion programs offered through the State of New Jersey. However, a conditional discharge is offered only at the municipal court level for disorderly persons offenses while pre-trial intervention is offered at the Superior Court level for certain indictable offenses. Moreover, the conditional discharge is only available for drug offenses in municipal court while pre-trial intervention can be used for defendants facing various kinds of charges including Drug Crimes, Theft by Deception, Aggravated Assault, Credit Card Fraud, and Shoplifting. Lastly, if you use a conditional discharge you can not use a pre-trial intervention at a later time, and vice versa.
Union County NJ Drug Defense Lawyer
The majority of drug cases we handle, especially marijuana, result from motor vehicle stops where a resulting search of the car turns up contraband. In these cases the driver is normally charged with a motor vehicle ticket called Possession of CDS in a Motor Vehicle under N.J.S.A. 39:4-49. This ticket is entirely separate from any criminal charges and can pose a big problem for defendants because it does not automatically merge with the conditional discharge. Simply put, you can do a conditional discharge and still get convicted of CDS in the MV and lose your driver’s license for two (2) years. Our attorneys are experienced in handling drug cases involving a conditional discharge and we can petition the court for a hardship application to have the judge waive any suspension. If you would like to learn more about these charges and how we can help you, then contact our office at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer during a free consultation.