The Conditional Discharge program is found in N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1. It applies only to an individual who has not been previously convicted in any state of a drug offense and who has not previously been granted a Conditional Discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention. It is available only with respect to disorderly persons offenses (normally possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in the Municipal Courts).
Application for a conditional discharge can be made either after a guilty plea or finding of guilt or before a guilty plea is entered. If it is before a guilty plea is entered, then there is no mandatory suspension of driver’s license. If it is after a finding of guilt then the court must suspend the license for a period of 6 months to 2 years. Once accepted into the program the court may place the individual on a period of supervisory treatment for up to 3 years. The typical term is generally 1 year. The court may require residential drug treatment for up to 6 months or out-patient treatment and drug testing for the period of the supervisory treatment. While no fines are imposed the monetary penalties imposed by the court generally run between $800.00 and $900.00.
Successful completion of the conditional discharge program requires that the individual does not fail any drug tests or get arrested during the period of supervision. Upon completion the criminal case is dismissed and the person does not have any record of a criminal conviction. Six months following the dismissal application can be made to the Superior Court to expunge all records of the arrest and conditional discharge. If a person is terminated unsuccessfully from the conditional discharge program the criminal charges must then be faced.