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NJ Criminals Could Avoid Jail For Petty Offenses

A bill that would create a conditional dismissal program in municipal court similar to existing supervisory treatment programs has been cleared by an Assembly committee.

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The measure would also allow people charged with a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense to have the charges dismissed if they successfully complete a supervisory treatment program.

“Alternative programs like this can help keep people’s lives on track, make sure they get the treatment they need and save taxpayers money in the long-run,” says Assemblyman Reed Gusciora who co-sponsors the bill. “As a municipal prosecutor, I know how strained our criminal justice system is. This would help alleviate some of that burden and save lives in the process.”

Similar legislation was conditionally vetoed by Governor Chris Christie recently because it included a $500 fine to assist municipalities with the costs associated with the program. The new measure trims the fine to $75.

Assemblyman Angel Fuentes co-sponsors the bill too. He explains, “This is a way to help reduce some of the burden on our already overburdened criminal justice system. The changes we’ve made to this bill are sensible and in the interest of making this program more accessible to everyone to help turn more lives around.”

“For individuals who don’t have a violent nature or a history of previous serious offenses, this is an opportunity for a second chance,” says Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt. “With the proper treatment, hopefully they can find the right path in life and avoid incarceration.”

Under the bill, a person would not be eligible for conditional dismissal if the offense for which they are charged involved: organized criminal or gang activity; a continuing criminal business or enterprise; a breach of the public trust by a public officer or employee; domestic violence; an offense against an elderly, disabled or minor person; an offense involving driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug; animal cruelty; or any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense under chapter 35 or 36 of the Criminal Code.

 

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