Jail Cell

New Jersey is very tough on drug offenses like possession, intent to distribute, drug trafficking, and distribution. You can go to jail even if it is your first time being charged with a drug-related offense.


While New Jersey favors promoting rehabilitative measures rather than strict punishments for first-time drug offenses, judges have jailed offenders on their first offense. The chance of getting sent behind bars in New Jersey decreases when you hire an accomplished criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will understand the criminal process and can help you avoid serving jail time. 

What is a Diversionary Program?

The state of New Jersey designed special programs for individuals who have never been convicted of a drug-related crime before. Such diversionary programs offer an alternative to conviction for first-time minor drug offenses. Instead of going to jail, you can be placed in a program designed to keep you from being a repeat offender. These programs are the best alternative to paying hefty fines and spending time in jail.


One such diversionary program is called Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). PTI was explicitly created for offenders who need rehabilitation, not imprisonment. By going through such a program, you may be allowed to avoid the criminal process, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.


Are You Eligible for Conditional Discharge?


A conditional discharge is a diversionary program for first-time offenders charged with a minor drug crime. This is a standard option for juvenile offenders. To be eligible, one must be infraction-free and drug-free for six months to one year while on probation. Completing this program dismisses the offense. It can be challenging to get a conditional discharge, and it is at the judge's discretion to grant one.


What is Pre-Trial Intervention?

New Jersey allows first-time drug offenders to be placed on a year’s probation. If finished successfully with no infractions, you can get your criminal conviction expunged from your record. This keeps you from being behind bars or paying an excessive fine. It's important to note that getting such a conditional discharge is within the discretion of the judge. They will base their decision on different factors and the surrounding circumstances. This means you should seek legal counsel right after your arrest so you can fight false charges and try to get a lesser charge or alternative option to jail.


Are You Eligible for Drug Court?

Another alternative to jail time for first-time offenders whose actions result from addiction is drug court. This can help individuals recover from addiction while also clearing up their criminal charges. After enrolling in drug court, an individual undergoes a specialized program that can involve detox, therapy, community service, the 12 step program, and more. Drug court only applies to first-time offenders. Unlike a conditional discharge or PTI, the individual will have to plead guilty to their offenses in drug court. They must also state that addiction was the underlying reason for committing the crime.


Contact An  Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away

If you or someone you love has been arrested on first-time drug charges in New Jersey, you may be interested in reading about your options. Click on https://www.lustberglaw.com/drug-crimes/ to read more.