Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program Denied When Charged with Third Degree Operating a Motor Vehicle That Resulted in the Death of Another While Her License Was Suspended

State of New Jersey v. Laquana Ransdell

Docket No. A-1476-21

Decided March 10, 2023

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from a trial court order affirming the denial of her application for admission into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program.

In August 2020, defendant’s vehicle was struck by a NJ Transit bus when it entered an intersection. Defendant and her passenger were both injured as a result of the accident, but defendant’s passenger’s injuries were fatal. At the time of the accident, defendant’s license was suspended for unpaid parking tickets. As a result, defendant was charged with third degree operating a motor vehicle that resulted in the death of another while her license was suspended.

Defendant is a thirty (30) year old single mother who had no prior criminal history. She eventually applied for admittance into the PTI program. The Criminal Case Manager recommended her for admission into the program, but the prosecutor objected. After the application was reviewed by the trial judge, the matter was remanded so the prosecutor could take another look. After another review, the prosecutor’s position had not changed. When considering the matter a few weeks later, the trial judge articulated that defendant had presented a very compelling argument, but ultimately denied her application because he could not find the prosecutor’s position amounted to a patent and gross abuse of discretion. Following the denial of her application for admission into PTI, defendant pled guilty to the indictment. The State recommended a non-custodial sentence and a mandatory one-year loss of her driving privileges. The trial judge sentenced defendant to a three-year probationary term. Defendant subsequently appealed.

On appeal, defendant contended that the prosecutor’s denial of her application for admittance into the PTI program was a patent and gross abuse of discretion and that a three-year probation period is manifestly excessive and not supported by the court’s findings of aggravating and mitigating factors. The Appellate Court agreed with defendant’s first point and therefore stated that it was unnecessary to reach the second. The court noted that the prosecutor was desirous of prosecuting this defendant for a fatal car accident only because her license was suspended for unpaid parking tickets. After consideration of the defendant’s age and circumstances, and the lack of any prior criminal history, the Appellate Court determined that this is a hallmark example of a case where the facts and circumstances indicate that the defendant would be amenable to PTI. Moreover, because the court expressed that the prosecutor’s objection to defendant’s entry into PTI was based almost entirely on the fact that defendant’s license was suspended for unpaid parking tickets when the unfortunate and tragic motor vehicle accident occurred, the court was satisfied that the prosecutor’s objection constituted a gross and patent abuse of discretion and subverted the goals underlying PTI. Thus, the matter was remanded for entry of an order vacating the judgment of conviction and permitting defendant’s entry into PTI.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to appealing a denial of 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.

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