Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal Attorneys, New Jersey
Not every mistake should follow you for the rest of your life—but that is exactly what can happen if you are convicted of a crime in New Jersey. Potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions can access your criminal record for an extended period of time, if not forever. Fortunately, the New Jersey legislature recognizes the severe and lasting hardship that this can create and has developed its conditional discharge and conditional dismissal programs (also known as “diversionary programs”) that can help you avoid the consequences of a criminal record.
If you are a first-time offender charged with a relatively minor crime, you may be eligible to have your case dismissed if you satisfy certain conditions imposed by the courts over a probationary period of about one year. You will be required to complete the program to the judge’s satisfaction, which means you may be required to complete mandatory drug or alcohol counseling, education, and community service, and you cannot be arrested again during the probationary period.
Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can explain in more detail whether you may be eligible to participate in the conditional discharge or conditional dismissal programs. We know that when you’re facing a criminal conviction, the stakes are high—this is why we put all of our resources to work to formulate the strongest possible defense in every case.
Advantages of the Hazlet Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal Programs
The criminal discharge program is relevant if you have been accused of committing a relatively minor drug-related offense, while the conditional dismissal program applies more broadly to other types of non-drug related offenses. Upon successfully completing the New Jersey conditional discharge (or conditional dismissal) program, you will:
- Avoid jail time,
- Avoid a criminal conviction on your record, which means that, at the end of the conditional period, you will not have to disclose a criminal conviction on job or housing applications,
- In some cases, keep your driver’s license if the court agrees.
To participate in the conditional discharge or conditional dismissal program, the prosecution can recommend that you participate in the program, and we can also advocate on your behalf with the courts that participation is appropriate. The court will consider several basic factors in determining whether you may participate in the program:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense,
- Basic facts surrounding your commission of the offense,
- Your motivation, age, character, and general attitude,
- Any desire by the victim to avoid prosecution,
- The public interest, including the needs of the victim and of the community as a whole,
- Whether your offense was part of a continuing pattern of antisocial behavior,
- Whether the offense was violent, either in the act itself or in the potential consequences of the act,
- Whether allowing you to avoid prosecution is consistent with the public interest, and
- Any other factors that the court finds relevant.
Battle-Tested Middletown Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Whether the Conditional Discharge or Conditional Dismissal Program is Right for You
Conditional discharge or dismissal is not available in all cases, but our lawyers will strongly advocate for your right to participate in the program if at all possible. In general, the conditional dismissal program is available in New Jersey if:
- This is your first offense,
- You have not previously participated in a diversionary program, such as pre-trial intervention, conditional discharge or conditional dismissal,
- You have been charged with a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense unless some sort of extenuating circumstance applies.
The New Jersey conditional dismissal program is not available if your criminal charges involved:
- An indictable crime,
- Organized crime or gang activity,
- Domestic violence,
- Crimes against someone who was elderly, disabled or a minor,
- Driving while intoxicated, or while under the influence of drugs,
- Animal cruelty,
- Breach of the public’s trust and you were a public officer or employee, or
- Allegations of an ongoing criminal enterprise.
In most cases, before beginning the conditional dismissal or conditional discharge program, you will plead guilty to the underlying offense. It may also be possible to obtain admission into one of these diversionary programs after you have already been convicted of the crime. This is important because if you violate the terms imposed by the court during your probationary period, you will immediately be subject to sentencing for the underlying crime—with respect to which your guilt has already been established. The judge can also automatically impose a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 in fines if you are again arrested while participating in the program.
Contact Our Woodbridge Criminal Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation to Discuss New Jersey’s Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal Programs
If you are facing your first criminal charges, call us today so that we can put our skills to work for you. We provide honest and straightforward advice to all of our clients, and also offer a free initial consultation to potential clients. Our Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County conditional discharge and conditional dismissal lawyers have extensive experience in these cases. Contact us today in our Hazlet or East Brunswick offices.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal
After successful completion of the conditional dismissal program, you will not have any criminal convictions on your record. However, your arrest for the crime charged will still appear on your record. We can, however, pursue expungement of even that arrest from your criminal record after about six months have passed.
Conditional dismissal and conditional discharge have many benefits and do allow you to avoid any additional jail time and a criminal record. You may still be required to pay monetary fines and fees imposed by the court as punishment, court costs and a $75 application fee for the program. Community service and counseling requirements may also apply, depending upon the circumstances.