In a unanimous ruling on January 8, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an individual’s prior dismissed adult criminal and juvenile charges do not form the basis to deny a defendant’s acceptance into the pretrial intervention program (PTI). The Court stated that the use of such dismissed charges amounted to an impermissible inference of guilt.

PTI is a diversion program which affords first offenders a chance to avoid a criminal record. Defendants who are deemed eligible for the program are usually not required to enter a guilty plea, and are placed on probation. At the conclusion of that probation, their charges are dismissed. In determining eligibility for PTI, prosecutors examine the characteristics of the individual, the nature of the charges, amenability to rehabilitation, and any prior criminal history, among other factors.

“Proper consideration requires more than a prior arrest when the identified information is reviewed in connection with the rejection of a pretrial intervention application,” New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon wrote in State v. K.S. “The prosecutor and the program director may not infer guilt from the sole fact that a defendant was charged, when the charges were dismissed.”

The K.S. ruling is significant because before the Supreme Court decided the issue, previous legal decisions allowed prior arrests, even those not resulting in guilty pleas or convictions, to be considered. Now, dismissed arrests cannot be used for any purpose whatsoever. This ruling will permit more eligible individuals to benefit from the PTI program.

Rather than reverse the decision rejecting K.S. from PTI, the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration.

For individuals who are facing prosecution or sentencing in the State criminal courts of New Jersey, or who are appealing their matters before the New Jersey Appellate Division, or the Supreme Court of New Jersey, it is critical to have an experienced New Jersey State criminal defense attorney represent you. The experienced criminal defense lawyers of Schwartz & Posnock appear in all State and Municipal criminal courts in New Jersey, and have convenient locations in Monmouth County (Eatontown), Essex County (Livingston), Union County (Linden), and Middlesex County (East Brunswick). Call us at 732-544-1460 or email us at to schedule an appointment.