What is Conditional Discharge?
If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, or misdemeanor, involving drugs, such as Simple Possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, you may be eligible for a Conditional Discharge, also called Conditional Dismissal (NJ Statute N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1). This discharge will dismiss the complaint against you as long as you can successfully complete an agreed-upon probation period without being arrested. This probation period can be up to three years, but usually lasts one year.
What are the Benefits of Conditional Discharge?
- A Conditional Discharge allows you to avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for the discharge, you will not be convicted or even need to plead guilty.
- While your arrest will still be on record, you may later have the ability to have the arrest expunged, or permanently removed from public record.
- It is possible to avoid suspension of your driver’s license under a Conditional Discharge. Since you are not pleading guilty, it is up to the judge whether or not to suspend your license, and if they do, you may be able to have it reinstated with a successful hardship argument.
Do I Qualify for Conditional Discharge?
Eligibility for a discharge is decided on a case by case basis, but there are some general rules that apply:
- Conditional Discharge is an option only for people charged with a disorderly persons offense. A person charged with more severe crimes will typically not be eligible.
- It is available only to those being charged with a first offense, meaning they have never been convicted of a drug offense before.
- A person who has already participated in a Conditional Discharge or a similar diversionary program (such as Pre Trial Intervention) will typically not be eligible.
- It is usually not available in Juvenile Court.
- If a person violates the terms of the discharge, the discharge will be terminated and the original complaint will be reinstated.
Contact Schneider Freiberger today to discuss whether you are eligible for a discharge, and what your options are for getting the best outcome to your case.