What is a Conditional Dismissal in NJ?
Effective January 4, 2014, the New Jersey Legislature created the municipal court diversionary program now known as the Conditional Dismissal. Similar to other diversionary programs like PTI and Conditional Discharge, a Conditional Dismissal offers first-time offenders an opportunity to avoid trial and conviction while maintaining an untarnished criminal record for subsequent offender purposes. Conditional Dismissals apply to non-indictable offenses handled by the municipal court (ie disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses). Therefore, if you have been charged with a shoplifting, simple assault (non domestic violence) criminal mischief, disorderly conduct or harassment, you may be eligible for the conditional dismissal program, if your defense attorney can convince the prosecution and Judge that you deserve the opportunity. The Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall has been helping defendant’s enter the conditional dismissal program in towns like Jersey City, Hoboken, Secaucus, North Bergen, West New York and Weehawken since it was introduced by the legislature. If you have any further questions, please contact our Jersey City office at (201) 309-1800. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have.
Am I Eligible for a Conditional Dismissal?
Eligibility for a conditional dismissal is extended to those persons who: (1) have not been previously convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime (i.e. felony or indictable offense); (2) nor has previously participated in conditional discharge, supervisory treatment, or conditional dismissal under this law; and (3) currently is charged with a certain petty disorderly offenses or disorderly persons offense. When these conditions are present, the defendant may, after a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt, but prior to the entry of a judgment of conviction and with appropriate notice to the prosecutor, apply to the court for entry into the conditional dismissal program. Entry into this program requires submission to the fingerprint identification procedures required by the court. This provides the court with the opportunity to verify the defendant’s criminal history, or lack thereof, before allowing him or her to enter into a Conditional Dismissal on the record.
However, there are certain offenses excluded from eligibility. A defendant is not be eligible for participation in the conditional dismissal program if the offense for which the person is charged involved any of the following: (a) organized criminal or gang activity; (b) a continuing criminal business or enterprise; (c) a breach of the public trust by a public officer or employee; (d) domestic violence; (e) an offense against an elderly, disabled or minor person; (f) an offense involving driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug; (g) a violation of animal cruelty laws; or (h) any disorderly persons drug offense or petty disorderly persons drug offense.
What Happens If You Violate the Conditional Dismissal Terms?
If a person participating in the conditional dismissal program is convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime or otherwise fails to comply with the terms and conditions imposed by the court, the court may enter a judgment of conviction and impose a fine, penalty, or other assessment which may be imposed by the court in accordance with the defendant’s prior plea of guilty or finding of guilt.
Factors Considered for Conditional Dismissal
In determining eligibility for the program, the court must consider the following factors:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense;
- The facts surrounding the commission of the offense;
- The motivation, age, character and attitude of the defendant;
- The desire of the complainant or victim to forego prosecution;
- The needs and interests of the victim and the community;
- The extent to which the defendant’s offense constitutes part of a continuing pattern of anti-social behavior;
- Whether the offense is of an assaultive or violent nature, whether in the act itself or in the possible injurious consequences of such behavior;
- Whether the applicant’s participation will adversely affect the prosecution of codefendants;
- Whether diversion of the defendant from prosecution is consistent with the public interest; and
- Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.
What are the fines for a Conditional Dismissal?
When applying for admission to the conditional dismissal program, the defendant must pay the the court an application fee of $75 which shall be deposited into the “Municipal Court Diversion Fund”. This fund is used to defray the cost of intake and monitoring services related to the defendant’s participation in the conditional dismissal program. If admitted into the program, the defendant is required to pay any restitution, costs, and other mandatory assessments that would have been imposed by law for a conviction of the offense charged. Additionally, a municipal court judge may impose an assessment, based on the nature of the offense and the character of the defendant, which cannot exceed the amount of a fine that would have been imposed for conviction of the offense charged. Such assessment is distributed in the same manner as a fine for the offense charged.