New Jersey Court Discusses Pre-Trial Intervention in DWI Cases

The New Jersey criminal courts are tasked with handling a high volume of cases each year. Thus, to cut down on unnecessary hearings, the court allows some people who are charged with less serious offenses to enter into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), thereby avoiding a trial and conviction. The defendant must establish certain elements in order to be eligible for PTI, however, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI opinion in which the appellate court ruled that the defendant’s alleged crimes rendered PTI an unsuitable remedy. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is wise to speak to a zealous New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision outside of a fast-food restaurant. The police officer that responded to the scene observed the defendant sitting in his vehicle, with his fourteen-year-old son in the passenger seat. The officer spoke to the defendant and noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath. As such, he asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. The defendant consented and failed the tests. He was then transported to the police station, where a breath test revealed his BAC to be .21%. He was charged with DWI and numerous other driving offenses, as well as with second degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Allegedly, the defendant filed an application for admission into PTI. The criminal case manager recommended against his admission into the program, and his application was subsequently rejected. The matter then became before a trial judge, who overturned the rejection. The State then appealed.

Eligibility for Pretrial Intervention  

On review, the court noted that PTI, essentially, is an extension of the charging decision. Therefore, whether to grant or deny PTI is a prosecutorial function. As such, a prosecutor’s decision to reject or accept a defendant’s application to PTI should be granted substantial deference, and trial courts should only overrule a prosecutor’s decision regarding a PTI application when it is clear that the decision was based on a gross and patent abuse of discretion.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that it was clear that the trial court failed to adhere to the proper standard of review. Rather, the trial court reviewed the facts of the record anew and relied upon the facts to render what it viewed as the correct result. The appellate court found that this was irreconcilable with the court’s role in the context of PTI applications. As such, the trial court ruling was reversed, and the matter was remanded.

Speak with a Dedicated New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are a New Jersey resident and are faced with accusations that you committed a first offense DWI, you should consult an attorney to evaluate your potential defenses. The dedicated New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of your alternatives and assist you in developing a strategy that will provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. We can be reached through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.

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