First-time cocaine and drug offenders in New Jersey are often eligible for Pretrial Intervention (PTI). This is a "diversion" program. PTI programs exist in all New Jersey state criminal courts. Under PTI, a defendant is placed on probation. There is usually no trial. There is usually no guilty plea. And, most importantly, there is no record of having been convicted. New Jersey driving privileges are usually retained. When probation is successfully completed, the charges are dismissed. After a short waiting period, the New Jersey arrest record can then be expunged.
Whether a person can have cocaine or other drug charges diverted in New Jersey depends on many factors. Persons with a previous New Jersey diversion are not eligible. Previous convictions will usually be disqualifying. This disqualification will exist even if the previous conviction was not in New Jersey. Other factors include the amount of cocaine involved, and whether the arrest occurred within a certain distance of a school, a public housing project, or public park. PTI is not available in Juvenile Court. Other methods are available for juveniles, however, that can ultimately result in there being no conviction.
Not everyone charged with cocaine or drug offenses wants PTI. And as just mentioned, not everyone charged with a cocaine offense is eligible for PTI. In such situations, the cocaine defendant must either enter a guilty plea, work out a plea bargain with the prosecutor, or have a trial. This determination to try the case or negotiate a plea is one of the most crucial decisions that the person charged with a cocaine offense must make. The lawyer weighs the likelihood of success against the risks of losing, and advises the client. But it is the person that was arrested who makes that ultimate decision, not the lawyer.
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