In accordance with the New Jersey Constitution, the Criminal Division is part of the Law Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. The Criminal Division has general jurisdiction in indictable offenses and certain nonindictable offenses, municipal court appeals, and Family Division actions requiring trial by jury.
- Morris County Criminal Division Overview and Programs
- Sussex County Criminal Division Overview and Programs
From the year 1995 to 1999, criminal case filings, defendants indicted, have increased 16% from 1611 to 1866. In the same time frame, dispositions have increased 14.9% from 1677 to 1923.
The trial work of the division is divided among the Presiding Judge and two other Judges. Assisting the Judges with the day-to-day administration of cases is the Criminal Division Manager who oversees a staff of 39 within the following functional units:
- Division Managers Office
- Criminal Intake Team
- Case Processing Teams
- Criminal Records Team
Criminal Division Programs
In addition to adjudication, many cases that come into the system participate in one or more diversionary programs or Complementary Dispute Resolution (CDR) programs. These programs are established under the authority of the Supreme Court and are subject to the rules and regulations found in the New Jersey Court Rules. The following are programs in place in the Criminal Division which may be contacted at 973-326-6950 for additional information:
Early Disposition Conference
The Early Disposition Conference (EDC) was developed in an effort to dispose of criminal cases more efficiently. The program was established in Morris County on April 22, 1991. The program is based on the philosophy that the sooner a defendant can address his/her charges and have the case disposed, the greater the benefit to society and the individual. Cases are screened by the Criminal Division and the Prosecutors Office to eliminate those cases that will likely be dismissed or remanded to municipal court, along with those that will be granted expedited admission into PTI. The remaining cases are reviewed by an EDC panel made up of detectives and assistant prosecutors who determine whether a plea agreement will be offered and what the plea offer will be. EDC hearings are then held before a Judge of the Criminal Division in the presence of the defendant, defense counsel and the Prosecutor where several scenarios may take place. The Prosecutor may recommend that the case be dismissed, remanded or the defendant accepted in PTI, which would dispose of the case. Or, the defendant will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will be forwarded to the grand jury for indictment proceedings. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will be forwarded to the grand jury for indictment proceedings. If the defendant pleads guilty and accepts the EDC plea offer, the case is disposed of at this stage. The advantage of the plea offer made at the EDC is that it is guaranteed to be the lowest plea offer that will be made by the Prosecutors Office. The EDC Program has been extremely effective in reducing the backlog of criminal cases. Approximately 78 percent of criminal cases are disposed of at the pre-indictment stage, leaving only 22 percent to go before a grand jury.
Pretrial Intervention Program
The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) is mandated under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 and -13 and R. 3:28. PTI serves as an alternative to the traditional process of prosecuting criminal defendants. PTI seeks to provide rehabilitative services early in the criminal justice process to rehabilitate or correct the behavior that led to the offense. Participation in PTI is not an admission of guilt. If PTI is successfully completed, there is no record of a conviction. Any defendant who is charge with an indictable offense may apply for admission to PTI. However, PTI is normally limited to first-time offenders of third or fourth degree crimes who have not had prior rehabilitative opportunities. Staff of the Case Processing Section of the Criminal Division processes a defendants application for PTI, which includes an interview with the defendant. A detailed report is prepared detailing the decision for admittance or rejection into PTI and forwarded to the Prosecutor and defense counsel. A defendant is accepted into PTI on the recommendation of the Criminal Division and with the consent of the Prosecutor and the defendant. Upon acceptance into the PTI program, the conditions of the PTI program are enforced by the Probation Division of the Superior Court. Upon admission, the applicant is assigned a Probation Officer who is responsible for enforcing all the conditions agreed upon by the applicant when he/she was admitted into the program by the Court.
Sheriffs Labor Assistance Program (S.L.A.P.)
A post-adjudicatory program that involves the Criminal Division is the Sheriffs Labor Assistance Program (S.L.A.P.). This is a collaborative effort between Criminal Division Judges, the Sheriffs Office and the Prosecutor. A defendant sentenced to the county correctional facility may be sentenced to the Sheriffs Labor Assistance Program. The privilege may be revoked by the county correctional facility administrator for failure to comply with the program rules and regulations.
Criminal Division in 1999 has a post
indictment clearance rate of 108%. Clearance in municipal court appeals is at
196%, the highest clearance rate in the state. The median time in disposing a
case in Sussex County from the time of arrest to final disposition is 95 days.
The trial work of the Sussex County Criminal Division is handled by one Judge.
Assisting the Judge with the day-to-day administration of cases is a Criminal
Team Leader. However, the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division and Criminal
Division Manager, who keep their primary offices in Morris County, are
ultimately responsible for the overall judicial and non-judicial management of
the Sussex County Criminal Division. In addition to adjudicating, Sussex County
offers several Complementary Dispute Resolutions (CDR) programs. Those
available in Sussex County are the Pretrial Intervention Program and the Pretrial Conference Program. These programs are established under the
authority of the Supreme Court and are subject to the rules and regulations
found in the New Jersey Court Rules. Descriptions of these programs can be
found in the preceding section on Morris County Criminal Division. For
additional information, the Criminal Division Office in Sussex County may be
contacted at 973-579-0696.
Drug Court provides a collaborative effort by a Judge. Public Defender, Assistant Prosecutor, Court Staff and treatment service providers to deal effectively with drug addicted clients. In an effort to provide a more comprehensive approach to the drug using clientele, Drug court uses an intensive community supervision, weekly contact with the Drug court Judge and the use of sanctions to monitor the client's therapeutic progress. The goal of Drug court is to more positively impact the lives of drug users in Morris County.