NJ Appellate Court Denies PTI Admission in State v. Alkhabir Bass-Cochran

State of New Jersey v. Alkhabir Bass-Cochran

Docket No. A-1403-22

Decided June 24, 2024

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from the Law Division’s May 31, 2022 order denying his motion for admission into the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program following his rejection by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

On December 19, 2019, defendant called 911 for emergency assistance for his mother because she felt faint and was struggling to breathe. When two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived at their apartment, a dispute eventually ensued between defendant and the EMTs as defendant’s mother was being strapped to the stretcher for transport to East Orange General Hospital for evaluation and treatment. Despite the EMTs’ repeated requests for defendant to stop interfering, defendant started removing the straps because he wanted his mother transported to Clara Maass, where her personal physician had privileges. Defendant than became hostile and punched and shoved the male EMT. The EMT suffered injuries that resulted in hospitalization and several surgeries. Police were called to the scene, but defendant had fled the apartment before they arrived. Defendant’s sister advised officers that defendant had been drinking and acted out of emotion because he was protective of his mother. Defendant voluntarily returned to the residence and was subsequently arrested.

After being indicted on one count of third-degree aggravated assault of an emergency service personnel in February 2021, defendant was granted pretrial release and applied for the admittance into the PTI program. On October 8, 2021, defendant was notified in a comprehensive letter that the prosecutor would not consent to his enrollment in the PTI program. The prosecutor determined the defendant was not a good candidate for the program although they noted that there were limited positive factors in his favor. The prosecutor also relied on State v. Nwobu, 139 N.J. 236, 252 (1995) in determining there was nothing in defendant’s background that was “so extraordinary or unusual, or something idiosyncratic” that made him an appropriate candidate. Defendant then appealed the prosecutor’s denial of admission into PTI.

On appeal to the trial court, defendant proffered the misapplication of factor two to the facts of the case as why his application should be granted. He argued that he had been drinking on his day off when his mother went into distress. The prosecutor reiterated the facts and maintained her position. After hearing oral argument, the trial judge issued an oral opinion denying defendant’s motion. The court found the absence of a clear or convincing “patent and gross abuse of discretion” by the prosecutor. The court articulated that the prosecutor did not consider inappropriate factors and the dispute between defendant and the prosecutor amounted to the weight the factors should have been given. Defendant eventually pled guilty to third-degree aggravated assault and sentenced to one year probation. Defendant appealed the denial of entry into PTI.

On appeal, defendant contended that the State’s denial was a patent and gross abuse of discretion because: 1.) The State improperly failed to consider that defendant feared that his mother’s life was in danger without treatment by her own doctors, notwithstanding the relevance of his state of mind to PTI factors One, Two, and Three; 2.) The State failed to credit defendant’s law-abiding history and lack of dangerousness, and it improperly considered dismissed juvenile charges; and 3.) The State failed to consider several PTI factors relating to defendant’s amenability to treatment despite compelling evidence that the incident was triggered by treatable stress and alcohol abuse.

Ultimately, the Appellate Court of New Jersey affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny defendant’s admission into the PTI program. The court articulated that they were satisfied that the prosecutor’s denial of defendant’s PTI application was based on an appropriate review of the relevant factors and was not a “patent and gross” abuse of discretion. The court also noted that they agreed with the trial judge that a disagreement regarding the proper weight of the factors is not a basis for reversing the prosecutor’s decision.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to appealing the prosecutor’s decision to deny admission into the PTI program. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, 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 Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.


Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

Leave a Comment