PTI Denial where Defendant had Two Prior DUI’s and Driving while Suspended
Appellate Docket No.: A-3653-18T1
Decided October 6, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey DUI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed whether a denial for PTI was appropriate for driving while suspended after two DUIs.
In State v. Leszczynski, Defendant, Frances H. Leszcynski, appeals from a trial court order denying her admission to Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). Defendant was charged with the fourth-degree crime of operating a vehicle during a period of license suspension for a second driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b). The State objected to defendant’s application to PTI, setting forth its reasons in a nine-page letter.
On April 15, 2018, defendant was lawfully stopped by a police officer who discovered her license was suspended for a second DUI conviction. Defendant had been convicted of DUI on January 10, 2018, and August 2, 2016. Defendant also has been convicted of refusing to submit to breath testing, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a, on June 6, 2013.
After hearing oral argument, the trial court denied defendant’s motion to compel admission. The court found that the prosecutor had reviewed all relevant and appropriate factors and that the decision to object to defendant’s admission was not a patent and gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
Defendant thereafter pleaded guilty, reserving the right to appeal denial of PTI. She was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and ordered to pay all applicable fines and penalties.
Defendant appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s denial of PTI. The Court found the prosecutor’s statement of reasons clearly articulated each of the required factors for a PTI veto and did not abuse his discretion in doing so. Appropriately weighing all the factors, the prosecutor’s decision provided an appropriate basis to deny defendant PTI, namely to deter future acts of DUIs and driving while suspended.
It is important to understand the Pretrial Intervention (PTI) process. A defendant may apply for PTI, but it is ultimately in the prosecutor’s sole discretion as to whether admit or deny PTI. Only if the court finds that the prosecutor abused his or her discretion – a very high standard – will a trial court or Appellate Division overturn a PTI denial. So long as the prosecutor’s statement of reasons covers all factors and does not merely parrot the law, but analyzes the factors with a defendant’s circumstances, it is very difficult to challenge a prosecutor’s denial. That is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney to make a detailed application from the outset to give you the best chance that the prosecutor does not veto your PTI application.
If you have been charged with any, first degree crime, second degree crime, third degree crime, fourth degree crime, disorderly persons offense, municipal ordinance violation, or traffic ticket / DUI/DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you adverse results.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.
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