Submitted by New Jersey Drug Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In State v. Castle, decided July 2, by the Appellate Division, the judge considered whether the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) was properly denied by the prosecutor and trial judge. Previous blogs have written extensively about what makes an applicant a good candidate for PTI, and more info can be found at https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/criminal/crpti.htm. For the sake of context PTI is basically an alternative program meant for low-risk first-time offenders, with some rare exceptions. A defendant applies to the prosecutor for PTI, and it is accepted or rejected by the trial judge. In this particular case, the defendant entered a guilty plea for third-degree possession of CDS arising out of cocaine possession during a traffic stop. Later the same month, the defendant was arrested in South Carolina for a variety of serious drug offenses. When the defendant initially applied for PTI the South Carolina charges were pending, but when the trial judge actually affirmed the prosecutor’s rejection of PTI those S.C. charges had been dismissed. State v. K.S., 220 N.J. 190 (2015) held that previously dismissed charges could not be used to establish a pattern of antisocial behavior that warrants denial of PTI. In the prosecutor’s own brief it stated that the main reason for denying the defendant PTI was his arrest in S.C. However the Appellate Division found that while the prosecutor’s decision may have been an abuse of discretion, it was “not a patent and gross abuse of discretion” and therefore could be remanded back to the prosecutor for further review. So, in this case the PTI rejection was remanded for reconsideration of the prosecutor in light of State v. K.S.