PTI ADMISSION BY TRIAL JUDGE REVERSED ON APPEAL
State of New Jersey v. Emmett Ryder submitted October 16, 2019, decided November 1, 2019 Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division (Not approved for publication)
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
New Jersey statutory law, NJSA 2C: 43 – 12 G3 preclude admission into PTI by presumption for any second degree offense. In New Jersey it is unlawful to possess any weapon, whether in your car, or at home, which has been defaced. This includes any lawfully purchased in possessed handgun shotgun or rifle. A defaced weapon is defined in New Jersey statute as a weapon that has had the serial numbers removed and/or the barrel of the weapon shortened to a length of 16 inches or less from the breach to the end of the barrel.
Even if you purchased the weapon and are lawfully allowed to carrying same, if it is defaced you have committed a second-degree crime, which would, on its face, be a presumptive bar to admission into PTI. in this case the defendant was charged with possessing a defaced weapon which was found during a motor vehicle stop. The defendant argue that he had found the gun and failed to turn it over to the police two weeks earlier. When he applied for PTI the prosecutors office objected making reference to the appropriate legal authorities and the presumption against PTI for second-degree crimes. The defendant appealed his PTI denial from the criminal case manager’s office and the county prosecutor’s office to the law division PTI designee trial judge in the superior court.
The Superior Court judge, God division, ruled that the prosecutors office merely parroted the statute and failed to consider all of the appropriate factors, and weighed too many factors too heavily against the defendant’s admission into PTI. The trial judge ordered the defendant into PTI over the prosecutor’s objection. The county prosecutors office appealed to the appellate division.
The appellate division in this case found the trial judge reviewed the PTI factors, when he ruled the prosecutors office had merely parroted the statute and the defendant prior record of years past, and add overstepped his bounds by substituting his judgment for that of the county prosecutors office decision.
The appellate panel found the trial judge did not give the prosecutor’s decision significant or sufficient difference and made a mistake of law when he ruled the prosecutor’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable. The appellate division found there was more than adequate compelling factors that supported the prosecutor’s position which were rationally tied to the PTI DENIAL decision which was entitled to considerable difference because of the particular threat to society caused by handguns.
The key to this case is the substantial legislative and case or history concerning the possession of the handgun, but the defaced serial numbers, the fact that the gun was loaded, and loaded with hollow point bullets. The appellate division concluded the prosecutor was fully justified in objecting to the PTI enrollment and the trial judge overstepped his authority. The Law Office of Hark & Hark handles PTI appeals in every county court in New Jersey. If you feel your PTI application has been denied please reach out to our office to discuss how we can assist you and appeal your PTI denial.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.