Many people who are charged with DWI offenses are able to avoid the stress and risks associated with a criminal trial by entering into pre-trial intervention (PTI). PTI is not a right, however, and many people who apply for PTI are rejected. Recently, a New Jersey court explained the grounds for denying a DWI defendant entry into PTI in a case in which a first-time offender’s application was rejected. If you are charged with a DWI offense, it is advisable to meet with a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to evaluate your potential defenses.
The Defendant’s Arrest
It is reported that the defendant was arrested for operating a car while intoxicated and with a suspended license. His infant children were in the vehicle at the time of his arrest, and one of them was not in a car seat. He was charged with numerous crimes, including DWI. He applied for admission to PTI, but the prosecutor advised his attorney that the PTI director was not recommending acceptance of the defendant.
Allegedly, he pleaded guilty to DWI while preserving his right to appeal his denial of PTI. He received a letter later that day setting forth the reasons for his denial. The program director later reversed her decision and recommended the defendant for PTI, but the prosecutor objected and would not consent to his enrollment. The defendant then appealed the denial of his PTI application, but the court affirmed the ruling. He then appealed to the superior court.
Grounds for Denial of a PTI Application
The court explained that program directors and prosecutors must evaluate seventeen criteria as well as other factors in determining whether to reject or accept a PTI application. If prosecutors reject applications, they must set forth their conclusions and findings in precise detail, which includes stating the facts upon which the application is based and the grounds for the denial. The court noted that PTI is fundamentally an extension of the prosecutor’s decision to charge a defendant, and therefore, the decision to deny or grant PTI is a prosecutorial exercise.
A court’s review of a prosecutor’s decision to deny PTI is severely limited, and absent evidence showing; otherwise, the court will assume the prosecutor has considered all relevant information in deciding whether to accept an application. Thus, a defendant who seeks to overturn a prosecutor’s decision must convincingly and clearly show that it constituted a gross and patent abuse of discretion. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to meet this burden, and no grounds existed to disturb the trial court’s decision. Thus, the ruling was affirmed.
Speak to a Trusted New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
PTI can allow people charged with a first offense DWI in New Jersey to avoid convictions and move forward with their lives without the burdens imposed by criminal trials. If you are charged with a DWI offense, you may be eligible for PTI, and you should contact an attorney to assess your rights. The trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can evaluate the facts of your case and help you to pursue the best result possible under the circumstances. You can contact us through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.