If an offender has a first-time drug charge, a disorderly charge, or a petty disorderly person offense in New Jersey, they may be eligible for conditional discharge. Defendants must typically complete a probation period up to three years in order to qualify for dismissal of the charges against them. There are various benefits to conditional discharges; however, only certain cases qualify for this diversionary program.
First-Time Drug Charges in New Jersey
In New Jersey, crimes are classified as either indictable or non-indictable. Indictable crimes carry jail sentences and include crimes of the first, second, third, and fourth degree. Non-indictable offenses consist of less serious crimes which are either classified as disorderly person offenses or petty disorderly person offenses. These crimes are not necessarily punishable by jail time, but they often carry fines up to $1,000.
Those who are charged with a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense involving drugs, such as possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia, may be eligible for conditional discharge.
Benefits of Conditional Discharge
Those who qualify for conditional discharge will have the charges against them dropped. This means that they will not be convicted if they meet the terms of the conditional discharge. Arrests will remain on record but can later be expunged, allowing a first-time offender to avoid having a criminal record.
Another benefit of conditional discharge is that it allows for an exception to mandatory license suspension. Under New Jersey law, those who are admitted into the conditional discharge program must have their license suspended for six months to two years; however, the court may decide not to suspend the defendant’s license if suspension of those privileges would constitute an extreme hardship.
Eligibility for Conditional Discharge
Eligibility for conditional discharge is determined by the judge and depends on the circumstances of the case. However, there are certain general requirements, including:
- Eligibility for first-time offenders only. Those who have already been convicted of a drug offense will not qualify for conditional discharge.
- Only those who are charged with a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense. Those who are charged with more serious, indictable crimes will not be able to obtain conditional discharge.
- Offenders who have not been previously qualified for conditional discharge or have participated in similar diversionary programs. For example, those who already took advantage of the Pretrial Intervention Program will not be allowed to also obtain conditional discharge.
Those who are granted conditional discharge must adhere to the agreed-upon terms. They must last the entire probation period, which is typically one to three years, arrest-free. They must also pass all random drug tests administered during that time.
Cherry Hill Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Help First-Time Drug Offenders Obtain Conditional Discharges
If you are a first-time drug offender, you may be eligible for conditional discharge. Our Cherry Hill criminal lawyers at Aita Law, LLC will help you get your dropped and expunged from your record. Contact us online or call us at 856-287-7800 for a free consultation about your case. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we also serve clients in Camden County, Cherry Hill, and throughout South Jersey.