The conditional discharge is a “diversion” program available in all New Jersey municipal courts for qualified defendants. First-time marijuana offenders in New Jersey are often eligible for a “conditional discharge.” Defendants with a previous marijuana or drug conviction are not eligible, even if the conviction was not in New Jersey. A previous diversion in New Jersey will disqualify an applicant. Other disqualifiers are the amount of marijuana involved (usually more than 50 grams) and the proximity of the arrest to a school, a public housing project or a public park.
When the defendant receives a conditional discharge, he is placed on supervised probation. There is no minimum period of time. It is generally one year but can be as much as three years. Usually there is no trial and no guilty plea. There is no record of a drug conviction and New Jersey driving privileges are usually retained. Once the supervised probation is successfully completed, the marijuana charges are dismissed. The defendant will still have an arrest record but it can be expunged after six-month’s successful completion of the sentence.
Very often a person is charged with a marijuana-related offense in connection with other charges from the same incident. Where multiple charges exist, an attorney’s efforts in plea negotiating will often result in a better overall disposition. Consequently, it is always in the person’s best interest to consult with a knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense attorney BEFORE deciding whether to seek a conditional discharge, enter a guilty plea or proceed to trial.
Contact Gwendolyn O. Austin today at (973) 735-2706 or on line to schedule your free, confidential consultation.