Changes may be coming to penalties for those charged with disorderly persons offenses.
A new bill currently being considered by the New Jersey Assembly would institute a conditional dismissal program. Defendants would be required to comply with certain terms set by the court, then after the terms have been met, their charge would be dismissed.
It would not be considered a conviction, keeping the defendant’s record clean. The only record kept of the proceeding would be held by the State Bureau of Identification so that if the person committed any future offenses the court could decide whether or not he or she was eligible for these types of programs again.
The time for a defendant to apply would be after pleading or being found guilty, but before judgment of a conviction had been entered.
If accepted into the conditional dismissal program, the defendant would be put under “probation monitoring status” for a year. A judge also would have the option of adding other requirements, such as fines, and would be able to add additional time onto the probation term for good cause.
Should a defendant in any way violate the terms of the conditional dismissal, he or she would have a judgment of conviction officially entered against them. If he or she had not plead guilty or been convicted before entering the program, the prior legal proceedings would be reinstated.
The program is not available to those who already took advantage of any conditional discharge, dismissal, or pretrial intervention programs previously. Also, there are a number of offenses which are not eligible for the program. Examples include a violation of animal cruelty laws, DWI, and domestic violence.
Currently the bill is in the “second reading” stage, meaning that it has come out of an Assembly Committee and its title is going to be read to the full Assembly for the second time. The next step is for the bill to go through a third reading, then a debate and full Assembly vote. The bill must also be cleared in the New Jersey Senate, where the same Assembly process will be repeated before it reaches the Governor’s desk for its signing into law.