Compelling Reasons For PTI Request
New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention allows defendants charged with a first-time offense to avoid a conviction and instead receive mental health care, community support, or other resources tailored to the individual’s needs. In most cases, individuals charged with a first- or second-degree offense are barred from participating in the program. However, according to the Graves Act, prosecutors have the ability to allow a defendant with a second-degree offense to enter PTI “in rare cases involving extraordinary and compelling circumstances” (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6c). The prosecutor should consider at least 17 factors, listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e)(1)-(17), when formulating their opinion, including the nature of the offense, the likelihood that PTI will be effective, the applicant’s criminal record and history of violence, and the needs of the victim and society, among others.
In many cases, these “rare cases” involve veterans or other individuals who deal with mental health issues, including PTSD, anxiety, or depression. Thomas Roughneen & Associates has filed several requests highlighting the compelling circumstances that should be considered when evaluating whether a defendant should be granted PTI. Often, the defendant is a veteran who has PTSD or other mental health issues because of their time in the military. The defendant charged with a second- or third-degree crime that that can be traced to mental health issues who did minimal or very little harm to the defendant’s community will be favorably considered, in our experience. Finally, the defendant should be willing to undergo treatment to address underlying mental health conditions.
In many cases, PTI can be essential for a defendant’s recovery, especially if the offense they committed was caused by underlying mental health issues that require treatment, not jail time. Even if a defendant appears to be ineligible for PTI because of the degree of the charges he or she faces, they should be aware of compelling circumstances that would make PTI the right fit, despite the severity of the charges.
The following information should not be viewed as legal advice. Contact us at Veteran@CitizenSoldierLaw.com or other competent counsel