Conditional Discharge

Conditional Discharge

by: W. Les Hartman
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In New Jersey, possessing a small amount of marijuana [N.J.S.A. 35-10a.(3)] and, sometimes, other drugs [Failure to Make Lawful Disposition N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10c.], or possessing drug paraphernalia [N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2], such as a pipe or rolling papers, is a Disorderly Persons offense and is handled in the municipal court. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of any of these offenses you could: 1) be fined up to $1000; 2) go to jail for up to six months; and 3) lose your driver’s license from six months to two years, even if you were not in a car. The good news is that there is a program for certain first time offenders called a Conditional Discharge [N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1]. If you are entered into this program and successfully complete it, you will not have a criminal conviction, you will not lose your license and you will not go to jail.

A person is eligible for the Conditional Discharge program [N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1] if: 1) he or she is charged with a drug offense that is a Disorderly Persons offense; 2) he or she has never been convicted of any prior drug offense in this state or any other; and 3) he or she has never participated in this program, the Conditional Dismissal program [N.J.S.A. 2C:43-13.1], or the Pretrial Intervention program [N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12].

Conditional Discharge NJ

If you are accepted into the Conditional Discharge program [N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1], you will generally be placed on probation for one year. You do not have to plead guilty and there will be no conviction on your record during this time. The conditions of your probation vary from court to court. It could be as simple as staying out of trouble for one year, or it could include things such as drug testing and treatment. If you successfully complete the Conditional Discharge, the judge will dismiss your case and in six months you can file for an expungement [N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 et. seq.] of your record. Once your record is expunged, you can honestly tell anyone who asks that you have never been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense. It is like it never happened. So if you’ve never been convicted of a drug offense and you have never taken advantage of any prior diversionary program, you can make an application for a Conditional Discharge. But, as with any other important legal decision, be sure to consult with experienced attorney to guide you through the process.
NJ Judiciary Statutes


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