Serving Mercer County, Hunterdon County, and Somerset CountyAvailable 24/7 - Consultation is Free
Firm Logo

Am I Eligible for PTI?

Being charged with a criminal offense is almost always a stressful situation from the start but at some point a person facing a charge will spend time considering how to avoid the worst possible consequences of whatever the particular offense in question is. Avoiding incarceration if possible is a fairly universal goal, but the primary objective may be to avoid a felony conviction altogether—especially if the person charged does not have a criminal record. When that person starts looking into their options for preserving a clean criminal record, they will n o doubt start hearing about “PTI”

PTI stands for Pre-Trial Intervention. It’s a diversionary program, and acceptance and successful completion of it can mean avoiding a conviction on your record—a very worthwhile goal. Essentially, applying to PTI is the equivalent of asking the court to put off judgment as to a defendant’s guilty on the alleged offense until the defendant has a chance to show the court that the charges are not characteristic of who the defendant is, and that it is very unlikely that the defendant would ever get into similar trouble.

While there are not that many hard and fast rules about who is eligible for PTI, there are a number of general principles that apply to an eligible defendant:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Charged with an indictable offense
  • First-time offender
  • Not on probation or parole
  • Never previously on PTI

Typically, only defendants charged with third and fourth degree crimes can be admitted to the PTI program. However, there are a number of exceptions to that rule. For example, a person charged with an offense that is 3rd or 4th degree but is considered to be violent in nature—like aggravated assault or terroristic threats—is less likely to get into PTI. Additionally, a person accused of a 3rd or 4th degree offense that might normally be considered for the PTI program—like criminal mischief—is ineligible if there is domestic violence involved (meaning the alleged victim falls under the specific category “victim of domestic violence” under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act as a “victim of domestic violence.” On the other hand, a person charged with a more serious charge may be eligible for PTI with the help of an attorney, who may be able to use the particular facts of the case to convince the prosecutor that there are compelling reasons to permit a person who might not appear to be eligible for PTI on paper to enter the PTI program anyway.

The application costs $75 and is reviewed by two parties—the PTI program director and the prosecuting agency—and both need to agree for the person to be admitted. If both agree to PTI admission, at the next court date, the judge will question the person on the record as to the conditions of PTI being imposed and make certain the applicant understands what constitutes successful completion of the program. Once satisfied that all parties are in agreement that the person should enter PTI, the judge signs an Order of Postponement that gives the participant anywhere from 12-36 months to complete the program.

In the event an applicant is denied admission to PTI, an appeal can be filed. That said, a PTI appeal is a unique undertaking and does not involve asking the court is overrule the decision of the program director and prosecutor. Winning an appeal of a rejection of PTI involves the applicant proving that the appropriate factors were not considered in determining whether the applicant is eligible for PTI.

It’s never a bad idea to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer when you are accused of an offense, but often people who have no criminal record think they need not bother to retain counsel because they will automatically get lenient treatment as a first-time offender. As you’ve now read, it’s not always so simple. Amber L. Forrester has helped hundreds of people avoid a felony conviction through the Pre-Trial Intervention program—from persons who clearly meet the basic eligibility criteria for PTI, to persons whose entry into the program requires creative negotiation. For your best chance at resolving your charges without a felony conviction, contact Forrester Law Firm or call 609-613-1513 and find out how we can help.

Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in TrentonBest Criminal Defense Attorneys in Trenton
Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in EdisonBest Criminal Defense Attorneys in Edison
Best DUI Lawyers in TrentonBest DUI Lawyers in Trenton