What is a Conditional Discharge in NJ?
For those individuals who have already had some sort of involvement with the New Jersey criminal justice system, through their own conduct or the conduct of a loved one, the concept of a conditional discharge may not be all that foreign. Simply put, a conditional discharge provides defendant’s charged with disorderly persons offenses involving a controlled dangerous substances or drug paraphernalia in Hudson County a diversion from the traditional criminal process. Generally, a conditional discharge is only available to those individuals who have not been convicted of any offenses under the Controlled Dangerous Substances Act or another similar statute. Most importantly, a successfully completed conditional discharge will not act as a conviction for the defendant and they will walk away from whatever drug charge that they were facing without a criminal record and without serving a day behind bars. Conditional discharges are only available to certain defendants in Hudson County, New Jersey and you should consult with an attorney to determine if you or a loved one qualifies for the diversionary program known as a conditional discharge. If you would like to speak with any one of the eight Hudson County NJ criminal defense lawyers on staff at the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall please contact our Jersey City office at (201) 309-1800. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions that you may have. Now here is some important information regarding the diversionary program known as a conditional discharge.
How does a Conditional Discharge work in NJ?
As previously mentioned, a conditional discharge is a type of diversionary program offered in New Jersey to individual’s charged with disorderly persons offense involving controlled dangerous substances, whether it be marijuana, cocaine, heroin Xanax Oxycontin or drug paraphernalia. What makes this such an attractive prospect for a majority of defendant’s is that a conditional discharge does NOT carry a conviction. This is because the imposition of supervisory treatment under this Act is not deemed a conviction, for purposes of determining whether defendant has committed a second or subsequent offense, in order to authorize a greater penalty for a subsequent offense.
It is important to remember that a conditional discharge is only potentially available to individuals who have not been previously convicted of any offense under the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act or other similar Codes or Statutes. However, in State v. Teitelbaum, 160 N.J.Super. 430 (Law Div. 1978), the court held that a prior juvenile offense involving a controlled dangerous substance violation will not disqualify the defendant from consideration for the conditional discharge.
Requirements for a Conditional Discharge in NJ
Just because a defendant is eligible for a conditional discharge, the Court may still deny the defendant the opportunity to enter the diversionary program. The court will consider the following conditions in making a determination of whether or not it will allow a conditional discharge:
- Danger Defendant Presents to the Community
- Whether the Terms of Supervision are Adequate to Protect the Public
- No Prior Supervisory Treatment by Defendant
What happens if I Violate a Conditional Discharge?
Generally, the idea of a conditional discharge is that the defendant will undergo supervisory treatment and comply with certain conditions as a part of their diversionary program. The conditions will be imposed by the Judge. The original charges are not necessarily dropped, but rather suspended. Therefore, if the defendant violates a term or condition of the supervisory treatment program, the suspension of the proceedings must be terminated, and the criminal proceedings must resume at the point where they were suspended. Furthermore, if the defendant violates the program as a result of picking up a new criminal charge, they must deal not only with the original charge but the new charge as well.
Completion of a Conditional Discharge Supervisory Program
Upon completion of the terms and conditions of the supervisory treatment, the treatment is terminated and the proceedings against the defendant are dismissed. Therefore, no criminal record, no jail term, no license loss and no community service.
Are there any fines with a Conditional Discharge in NJ?
Typically, the court will impose a fee of seventy-five ($75) dollar application fee, a seventy-five ($75) dollar safe neighborhood fee, fifty (50) dollar lab fee, seventy-five ($75) dollar law enforcement training fee, as well as a mandatory drug enforcement penalty of five hundred ($500) dollars. Beyond purely fiscal penalties, if a person is granted conditional discharge after a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt, the court as a condition of the supervisory treatment must suspend the person’s driving privileges for a period of not less than six (6) months and not more than two (2) years. However, this may be avoided if the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception (i.e. extreme hardship).
Powerful Hudson County NJ Drug Possession Defense Firm
If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug charge in Hudson County and are interested in learning whether or not you are eligible for the conditional discharge program, please contact our Jersey City office at (201) 309-1800. The Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall has been getting defendant’s entry into the conditional discharge program in Hudson County, in towns like Kearny, Secaucus, Harrison, Jersey City, Weehawken, Hoboken and West New York for over fifteen years.