Conditional Discharge is a diversionary program designed specifically for marijuana and minor drug offense handled in Municipal Court. These offenses can included possession of marijuana in violation of NJSA 2C:35-10a(4), possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of NJSA 2C:36-2 and certain prescription drug charges under NJSA 2C:35-10.5. If you have been charged with a disorderly persons drug related offense you may be eligible to have your charge(s) conditionally discharged.
Granted, the judge and prosecutor will have to agree to your admittance and you will have to pay fines and fees, this option allows you to avoid a criminal conviction on your record. The key to successfully having your charges discharged is to pass any drug tests you may be subjected to and to simply stay out of trouble -- remain arrest free -- for a period of time. The terms of conditional discharge usually involve a period of minimal supervision for a term of typically one year (possibly less). The maximum term of supervision is three years. Conditional discharge is only available for those who have not previously used this program or other diversionary programs such as Pretrial Intervention (PTI).
In addition, a loss of license may be imposed, but it is unlikely if you are admitted into the conditional discharge program.N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1(b) proscribes:
If a person is placed under supervisory treatment under this section after a plea of guilty or finding of guilt, the court as a term and condition of supervisory treatment shall suspend the person's driving privileges for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than six months or more than two years unless the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception.
Compelling circumstances warranting an exception exist if the suspension of the person's driving privileges will result in extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation are not available. In other words, if your job requires you to have a valid driver’s license you may be able to escape a license suspension. For example, a trucker or a driver needs their license to perform their job on a daily basis. Depending on the circumstances, your individual situation may warrant an exception to this provision.
A person seeking conditional discharge will pay a court fee of $75, which shall be paid to the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey. The defendant shall also be required to pay restitution, costs and other assessments as provided by law. Typically, this cost is less than $1,000.
At LS&P Lawyers we have helped our clients successfully avoid conviction for drug offenses. If you have questions regarding the conditional discharge program or any other concerns relating to you drug charges, please feel free to contact our office and speak with a New Jersey criminal lawyer.