Essentially, a conditional discharge and a pre-trial intervention are the same thing, but there are some important differences. The most important thing to note initially is that a defendant is only entitled to one CD (conditional discharge), or PTI (pre-trial intervention in her lifetime) and the program is usually reserved for first time offenders, but there are exceptions to that rule.
Both programs are commonly referred to as deferments, or deferred adjudication. A deferred adjudication means that the person accused of the offense who makes the application for, and is accepted into the conditional discharge program or PTI (pre-trial intervention) will not be required to enter a plea and will not be sentenced to prison, or convicted of a criminal offense. This means that there will not be a conviction on the defendant’s record and the charges will be dismissed as long as she successfully completes the program.
Both programs typically consist of 1 yr of probation, during which time the defendant will be subject to court imposed conditions such as drug testing, probation meetings, and any other terms the court deems appropriate. However, in some circumstances the probation period will last as long as three years. There are also fines and fees.
PTI is available for only those defendants who are facing indictable charges (felony offense). Not every indictable offense is PTI eligible, but many are. More serious offenses will serve as a bar to admission into PTI, but not always. Admission is discretionary, but denials can be appealed.
Conditional discharge is only available for municipal court disorderly persons drug related offenses. The only offenses the are conditional discharge eligible are first time drug related misdemeanor, disorderly persons, municipal court charges. NO OTHER DISORDERLY PERSONS OFFENSE AT THE MUNICIPAL COURT LEVEL IS CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE ELIGIBLE.
This sets up an odd dichotomy. For example, a defendant charged with a shoplifting offense where the value of the merchandise exceeds $200 will be charged with an indictable offense and the case will be transferred to the superior court. If the defendant applies and is accepted, she will received the benefit of the program. However, the same defendant accused of stealing only $20 worth of merchandise will be charged with a disorderly persons offense and the case will be heard at the municipal court level. A conditional discharged is not available for this type of offense, so the defendant does not get the benefit of this option for a less serious charge. This does not make sense, but it’s the way it is.
There are also a number of variables that make acceptance into one of these programs uncertain. For example, if there are co-defendants in a case, that could make a difference. Prior convictions for even minor crimes of violence, such as simple assault, could serve as a bar.
For a full discussion of all the possible issues, and whether you may be eligible for either CD or PTI, you should consult an attorney.