Denial Of Reinstatement into Pretrial Intervention (PTI) After Defendant Failed to Abide By The Original Terms Of PTI
Appellate Docket No.: A-695-19
Decided March 21, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed a denial of reinstatement into pretrial intervention (PTI) after defendant failed to abide by the original terms of PTI.
In State v. Lowman, Defendant was arrested in 2014 after being found drunk and asleep at the wheel with two minor children in the back seat of her car. Defendant imbibed in excessive amounts of alcohol after learning her cousin, with whom defendant lived, had been murdered. When a police officer approached defendant’s car, he discovered the children were not wearing seat belts and found an open bottle of alcohol in the center console cupholder. After the officer shouted and knocked on the car window to wake defendant, the officer smelled alcohol on her breath. Defendant was unable to successfully perform the field sobriety tests administered by the officer.
Defendant was arrested and taken to police headquarters. At the police station, defendant refused to cooperate, cursed at the officers, and struck one officer with her elbow.
Defendant was indicted on two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child by a caretaker, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) and one count of fourth- degree aggravated assault on a police officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5). After pleading guilty to the child endangerment charges and driving while intoxicated, she was admitted into a PTI program for a three-year period. In conjunction with her admission to PTI, defendant agreed to the following: notifying her probation officer of any address change; reporting to her probation officer as scheduled; maintaining employment; performing sixty hours of community service; paying a $125 fine; and cooperating in any recommended testing, treatment, or counseling. Defendant also acknowledged failure to successfully complete the PTI requirements would result in the State seeking a three-year term of imprisonment on the original charges.
Defendant failed to meet the PTI program’s requirements for reporting to probation, attending scheduled appointments, performing community service, and paying all fines. Defendant’s probation officer issued a violation notice and a termination hearing was scheduled for January 6, 2017. Because defendant failed to appear at the hearing, she was terminated from the PTI program, and the judge issued a bench warrant.
Defendant filed a motion for reinstatement into PTI. Defendant’s probation officer provided the following testimony during the motion hearings. According to the probation officer, defendant failed to report to scheduled meetings on five occasions in 2016, failed to complete any of her community service hours, and failed to pay the $125 fine. Defendant was placed into a comprehensive enforcement program to ensure her compliance with the PTI requirements, but she was not successful in the program. Defendant received a warning letter from the probation officer about possible termination from PTI. Despite the warning letter, defendant did not comply with her PTI requirements.
The trail court denied defendant’s motion, stating “PTI is not just a privilege, it is a gift.” Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division affirmed, finding the decision for reinstatement into PTI is in the sound discretion of the trial court, and the court did not abuse its discretion in the denial.
This case is important to understand pretrial intervention (PTI) is a great alternative for individuals who qualify as first time offenders. PTI provides alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process, such as probation with a dismissal of the criminal charges upon successful completion. Terms will be set upon entry of PTI and failure to abide by the terms could result in the termination of PTI. If PTI is terminated unsuccessfully, the defendant could face a sentence imposed from the original charges. As seen above, getting back into PTI once unsuccessfully terminated is a very difficult task.
If you or someone you know have been charged with any indictable offense or disorderly persons, or you have questions regarding pretrial intervention (PTI), contact the experienced attorney at Hark & Hark to ensure you are adequately defended, otherwise you could have negative impacts on your case like the defendant above.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Hightstown, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Lawrence, Pennington, Robbinsville, Trenton, and West Windsor.