Interviewer: Starting with the indictable offenses, what diversionary program is available? What’s its name and what is involved?
Lauren Scardella: The diversionary program for indictable offenses is called Pre-Trial Intervention. That’s what its name is, but colloquially we all call it PTI. It’s the most rigorous of the three because it does take place in Superior Court, so it automatically involves charges that are more serious than something you would see in municipal court. It’s for any first‑time offender with a third‑ or fourth‑degree charge, but there is an application process, and they do have to be approved by the PTI director and by the prosecutor’s office. If they’re not approved by the PTI director, the prosecutor’s office can override the denial.
It can also be available on second‑degree crimes but it requires that a letter of special circumstances or compelling reasons to be sent to and approved by the county prosecutor before the person can be admitted to the PTI program.
PTI involves up to three years of probation, and the prosecutor and the judge can require certain conditions of probation, such as meeting with the probation officer a certain number of times per month. It can involve drug and alcohol evaluation or a psychiatric evaluation, depending on the nature of the crime. It could involve drug or alcohol treatment or anger management or things of that nature, and certain types of offenses might involve restitution to a victim. Community service is also generally required. There are conditions of the probation, and then once the probation successfully completed, an order is submitted to the judge for dismissal of the charges.
Interviewer: The conditions of the program are offender-specific?
Lauren Scardella: Yes. It’s tailored to the particular defendant and the particular offense.