SENATE, No. 881

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RAYMOND J. LESNIAK

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Amends special probation statute to give judges additional discretion to admit certain offenders to “drug court” program.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning treatment for drug and alcohol dependent persons and amending N.J.S.2C:35-14.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    N.J.S.2C:35-14 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:35-14.  Rehabilitation Program for Drug and Alcohol Dependent Persons Subject to a Presumption of Incarceration or a Mandatory Minimum Period of Parole Ineligibility; Criteria for Imposing Special Probation; Ineligible Offenders; Prosecutorial Objections; Commitment to Residential Treatment Facilities or Participation in a Nonresidential Treatment Program; Presumption of Revocation; Brief Incarceration in Lieu of Permanent Revocation.

     a.     Any person who is ineligible for probation due to a conviction for a crime which is subject to a presumption of incarceration or a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility may be sentenced to a term of special probation in accordance with this section, and may not apply for drug and alcohol treatment pursuant to N.J.S.2C:45-1.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a person who is eligible for probation in accordance with N.J.S.2C:45-1 due to a conviction for an offense which is not subject to a presumption of incarceration or a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility from applying for drug or alcohol treatment as a condition of probation pursuant to N.J.S.2C:45-1.  Notwithstanding the presumption of incarceration pursuant to the provisions of subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:44-1, and except as provided in subsection c. of this section, whenever a drug or alcohol dependent person who is subject to sentencing under this section is convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense, other than one described in subsection b. of this section, the court, upon notice to the prosecutor, may, on motion of the person, or on the court's own motion, place the person on special probation, which shall be for a term of five years.  [, provided that the court finds on the record that]  In determining whether to place the person on special probation, the court may consider the following factors:

     (1)   the [person has undergone a] results of any professional diagnostic assessment the person has undergone to determine whether and to what extent the person is drug or alcohol dependent and would benefit from treatment; and

     (2)   whether the person is a drug or alcohol dependent person within the meaning of N.J.S.2C:35-2 and whether the person was drug or alcohol dependent at the time of the commission of the present offense; and

     (3)   whether the present offense was committed while the person was under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog or alcohol or was committed to acquire property or monies in order to support the person's drug or alcohol dependency; and

     (4)   whether substance abuse treatment and monitoring will serve to benefit the person by addressing his drug or alcohol dependency and will thereby reduce the likelihood that the person will thereafter commit another offense; and

     (5)   whether the person [did not possess] possessed a firearm at the time of the present offense [and did not possess] or possessed a firearm at the time of any pending criminal charge; and

     (6)   whether the person has [not] been previously convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes of the first or second degree [, other than those listed in paragraph (7)]; or the person has [not] been previously convicted on two or more separate occasions, where one of the offenses is a crime of the third degree, other than crimes defined in N.J.S.2C:35-10, and one of the offenses is a crime of the first or second degree; and

     (7) [the person has not been previously convicted or adjudicated delinquent for, and does not have a pending charge of murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault, or a similar crime under the laws of any other state or the United States; and] (deleted by amendment, P.L.     , c.     (C.        ) pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     (8) whether a suitable treatment facility licensed and approved by the Division of Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services is able and has agreed to provide appropriate treatment services in accordance with the requirements of this section; and

     (9) whether [no] danger to the community will result from the person being placed on special probation pursuant to this section.

     Notwithstanding any provision of this section or any other law to the contrary, the court shall not place on special probation any person who has been previously convicted or adjudicated delinquent for, or has a pending charge of murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault, or a similar crime under the laws of any other state or the United States.

     In determining whether to sentence the person pursuant to this section, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, and shall take judicial notice of any evidence, testimony or information adduced at the trial, plea hearing or other court proceedings, and shall also consider the presentence report and the results of [the] any professional diagnostic assessment to determine whether and to what extent the person is drug or alcohol dependent and would benefit from treatment.  The court shall make all findings relevant to its determination on the record.

     As a condition of special probation, the court shall order the person to enter a residential treatment program at a facility licensed and approved by the Division of Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services or a program of nonresidential treatment by a licensed and approved treatment provider, to comply with program rules and the requirements of the course of treatment, to cooperate fully with the treatment provider, and to comply with such other reasonable terms and conditions as may be required by the court or by law, pursuant to N.J.S.2C:45-1, and which shall include periodic urine testing for drug or alcohol usage throughout the period of special probation.  In determining whether to order the person to participate in a nonresidential rather than a residential treatment program, the court shall follow the procedure set forth in subsection j. of this section. Subject to the requirements of subsection d. of this section, the conditions of special probation may include different methods and levels of community-based or residential supervision.

     b.    A person shall not be eligible for special probation pursuant to this section if the person is convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for:

     (1)   a crime of the first degree;

     (2)   a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2);

     (3)   a crime, other than that defined in section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7), for which a mandatory minimum period of incarceration is prescribed under chapter 35 of this Title or any other law; or

     (4)   an offense that involved the distribution or the conspiracy or attempt to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog to a juvenile near or on school property.

     c.     A person who is subject to sentencing under this section in accordance with subsection a. shall not be eligible for a sentence of special probation pursuant to this section if:

     (1)   the person has been:

            (a)        convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense under section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7), subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.185 (C.2C:35-4.1), or any crime for which there exists a presumption of imprisonment pursuant to subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 or any other statute; or

            (b)        previously convicted of an offense under subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5 or a similar offense under any other law of this State, any other state or the United States; [or

     (c)   previously convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes of the third degree, other than crimes defined in N.J.S.2C:35-10;] and

     (2)   the prosecutor objects to the person being placed on special probation.  The court shall not place a person on special probation over the prosecutor's objection except upon a finding by the court of a gross and patent abuse of prosecutorial discretion.  If the court makes a finding of a gross and patent abuse of prosecutorial discretion and imposes a sentence of special probation notwithstanding the objection of the prosecutor, the sentence of special probation imposed pursuant to this section shall not become final for 10 days in order to permit the appeal of such sentence by the prosecution.

     d.    Except as otherwise provided in subsection j. of this section, a person convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a crime of the second degree or of a violation of section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7), or who previously has been convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense under subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5 or a similar offense under any other law of this State, any other state or the United States, who is placed on special probation under this section shall be committed to the custody of a residential treatment facility licensed and approved by the Division of Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services.  Subject to the authority of the court to temporarily suspend imposition of all or any portion of the term of commitment to a residential treatment facility pursuant to subsection j. of this section, the person shall be committed to the residential treatment facility immediately, unless the facility cannot accommodate the person, in which case the person shall be incarcerated to await commitment to the residential treatment facility.  The term of such commitment shall be for a minimum of six months, or until the court, upon recommendation of the treatment provider, determines that the person has successfully completed the residential treatment program, whichever is later, except that no person shall remain in the custody of a residential treatment facility pursuant to this section for a period in excess of five years.  Upon successful completion of the required residential treatment program, the person shall complete the period of special probation, as authorized by subsection a. of this section, with credit for time served for any imprisonment served as a condition of probation and credit for each day during which the person satisfactorily complied with the terms and conditions of special probation while committed pursuant to this section to a residential treatment facility.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection l. of this section, the person shall not be eligible for early discharge of special probation pursuant to N.J.S.2C:45-2, or any other provision of the law.  The court, in determining the number of credits for time spent in residential treatment, shall consider the recommendations of the treatment provider.  A person placed into a residential treatment facility pursuant to this section shall be deemed to be subject to official detention for the purposes of N.J.S.2C:29-5 (escape).

     e.     The probation department or other appropriate agency designated by the court to monitor or supervise the person's special probation shall report periodically to the court as to the person's progress in treatment and compliance with court-imposed terms and conditions.  The treatment provider shall promptly report to the probation department or other appropriate agency all significant failures by the person to comply with any court imposed term or condition of special probation or any requirements of the course of treatment, including but not limited to a positive drug or alcohol test or the unexcused failure to attend any session or activity, and shall immediately report any act that would constitute an escape.  The probation department or other appropriate agency shall immediately notify the court and the prosecutor in the event that the person refuses to submit to a periodic drug or alcohol test or for any reason terminates his participation in the course of treatment, or commits any act that would constitute an escape.

     f. (1) Upon a first violation of any term or condition of the special probation authorized by this section or of any requirements of the course of treatment, the court in its discretion may permanently revoke the person's special probation.

     (2)   Upon a second or subsequent violation of any term or condition of the special probation authorized by this section or of any requirements of the course of treatment, the court shall, subject only to the provisions of subsection g. of this section, permanently revoke the person's special probation unless the court finds on the record that there is a substantial likelihood that the person will successfully complete the treatment program if permitted to continue on special probation, and the court is clearly convinced, considering the nature and seriousness of the violations, that no danger to the community will result from permitting the person to continue on special probation pursuant to this section.  The court's determination to permit the person to continue on special probation following a second or subsequent violation pursuant to this paragraph may be appealed by the prosecution.

     (3)   In making its determination whether to revoke special probation, and whether to overcome the presumption of revocation established in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the court shall consider the nature and seriousness of the present infraction and any past infractions in relation to the person's overall progress in the course of treatment, and shall also consider the recommendations of the treatment provider.  The court shall give added weight to the treatment provider's recommendation that the person's special probation be permanently revoked, or to the treatment provider's opinion that the person is not amenable to treatment or is not likely to complete the treatment program successfully.

     (4)   If the court permanently revokes the person's special probation pursuant to this subsection, the court shall impose any sentence that might have been imposed, or that would have been required to be imposed, originally for the offense for which the person was convicted or adjudicated delinquent.  The court shall conduct a de novo review of any aggravating and mitigating factors present at the time of both original sentencing and resentencing.  If the court determines or is required pursuant to any other provision of this chapter or any other law to impose a term of imprisonment, the person shall receive credit for any time served in custody pursuant to N.J.S.2C:45-1 or while awaiting placement in a treatment facility pursuant to this section, and for each day during which the person satisfactorily complied with the terms and conditions of special probation while committed pursuant to this section to a residential treatment facility.  The court, in determining the number of credits for time spent in a residential treatment facility, shall consider the recommendations of the treatment provider.

     (5)   Following a violation, if the court permits the person to continue on special probation pursuant to this section, the court shall order the person to comply with such additional terms and conditions, including but not limited to more frequent drug or alcohol testing, as are necessary to deter and promptly detect any further violation.

     (6)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, if the person at any time refuses to undergo urine testing for drug or alcohol usage as provided in subsection a. of this section, the court shall, subject only to the provisions of subsection g. of this section, permanently revoke the person's special probation.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, if the person at any time while committed to the custody of a residential treatment facility pursuant to this section commits an act that would constitute an escape, the court shall forthwith permanently revoke the person's special probation.

     (7)   An action for a violation under this section may be brought by a probation officer or prosecutor or on the court's own motion.  Failure to complete successfully the required treatment program shall constitute a violation of the person's special probation.  A person who fails to comply with the terms of his special probation pursuant to this section and is thereafter sentenced to imprisonment in accordance with this subsection shall thereafter be ineligible for entry into the Intensive Supervision Program, provided however that this provision shall not affect the person's eligibility for entry into the Intensive Supervision Program for a subsequent conviction.

     g.     When a person on special probation is subject to a presumption of revocation on a second or subsequent violation pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection f. of this section, or when the person refuses to undergo drug or alcohol testing pursuant to paragraph (6) of subsection f. of this section, the court may, in lieu of permanently revoking the person's special probation, impose a term of incarceration for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than six months, after which the person's term of special probation pursuant to this section may be reinstated.  In determining whether to order a period of incarceration in lieu of permanent revocation pursuant to this subsection, the court shall consider the recommendations of the treatment provider with respect to the likelihood that such confinement would serve to motivate the person to make satisfactory progress in treatment once special probation is reinstated.  This disposition may occur only once with respect to any person unless the court is clearly convinced that there are compelling and extraordinary reasons to justify reimposing this disposition with respect to the person.  Any such determination by the court to reimpose this disposition may be appealed by the prosecution.  Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the court at any time during the period of special probation to order a person on special probation who is not subject to a presumption of revocation pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection f. of this section to be incarcerated over the course of a weekend, or for any other reasonable period of time, when the court in its discretion determines that such incarceration would help to motivate the person to make satisfactory progress in treatment.

     h.     The court, as a condition of its order, and after considering the person's financial resources, shall require the person to pay that portion of the costs associated with his participation in any rehabilitation program, nonresidential treatment program or period of residential treatment imposed pursuant to this section which, in the opinion of the court, is consistent with the person's ability to pay, taking into account the court's authority to order payment or reimbursement to be made over time and in installments.

     i.      The court shall impose, as a condition of the special probation, any fine, penalty, fee or restitution applicable to the offense for which the person was convicted or adjudicated delinquent.

     j.     Where the court finds that a person has satisfied all of the eligibility criteria for special probation and would otherwise be required to be committed to the custody of a residential treatment facility pursuant to the provisions of subsection d. of this section, the court may temporarily suspend imposition of all or any portion of the term of commitment to a residential treatment facility and may instead order the person to enter a nonresidential treatment program, provided that the court finds on the record that:

     (1)   the person conducting the diagnostic assessment required pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of this section has recommended in writing that the proposed course of nonresidential treatment services is clinically appropriate and adequate to address the person's treatment needs; and

     (2)   no danger to the community would result from the person participating in the proposed course of nonresidential treatment services; and

     (3)   a suitable treatment provider is able and has agreed to provide clinically appropriate nonresidential treatment services.

     If the prosecutor objects to the court's decision to suspend the commitment of the person to a residential treatment facility pursuant to this subsection, the sentence of special probation imposed pursuant to this section shall not become final for ten days in order to permit the appeal by the prosecution of the court's decision.

     After a period of six months of nonresidential treatment, if the court, considering all available information including but not limited to the recommendation of the treatment provider, finds that the person has made satisfactory progress in treatment and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person will successfully complete the nonresidential treatment program and period of special probation, the court, on notice to the prosecutor, may permanently suspend the commitment of the person to the custody of a residential treatment program, in which event the special monitoring provisions set forth in subsection k. of this section shall no longer apply.

     Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the court at any time during the term of special probation to order the person to be committed to a residential or nonresidential treatment facility if the court determines that such treatment is clinically appropriate and necessary to address the person's present treatment needs.

     k. (1) When the court temporarily suspends the commitment of the person to a residential treatment facility pursuant to subsection j. of this section, the court shall, in addition to ordering participation in a prescribed course of nonresidential treatment and any other appropriate terms or conditions authorized or required by law, order the person to undergo urine testing for drug or alcohol use not less than once per week unless otherwise ordered by the court.  The court-ordered testing shall be conducted by the probation department or the treatment provider.  The results of all tests shall be reported promptly to the court and to the prosecutor.  In addition, the court shall impose appropriate curfews or other restrictions on the person's movements, and may order the person to wear electronic monitoring devices to enforce such curfews or other restrictions as a condition of special probation.

     (2)   The probation department or other appropriate agency shall immediately notify the court and the prosecutor in the event that the person fails or refuses to submit to a drug or alcohol test, knowingly defrauds the administration of a drug test, terminates his participation in the course of treatment, or commits any act that would constitute absconding from parole.  If the person at any time while entered in a nonresidential treatment program pursuant to subsection j. of this section knowingly defrauds the administration of a drug test, goes into hiding or leaves the State with a purpose of avoiding supervision, the court shall permanently revoke the person's special probation.

     l.      If the court finds that the person has made exemplary progress in the course of treatment, the court may, upon recommendation of the person's supervising probation officer or on the court's own motion, and upon notice to the prosecutor, grant early discharge from a term of special probation provided that the person: (1) has satisfactorily completed the treatment program ordered by the court; (2) has served at least two years of special probation; (3) did not commit a substantial violation of any term or condition of special probation, including but not limited to a positive urine test, within the preceding 12 months; and (4) is not likely to relapse or commit an offense if probation supervision and related services are discontinued.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.15, s.1)

 

     2. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would modify the criteria for admission into special probation pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-14, which is commonly referred to as the “drug court” program, to allow more persons to have access to the program.  Currently, a person must satisfy certain eligibility criteria to be placed on special probation.  This bill would allow courts greater discretion to place a person on special probation by making the eligibility criteria permissive, instead of mandatory, for the court.  A person who does not meet all of the eligibility criteria but who would nevertheless benefit from participation in the program would thus be eligible for special probation.

     Under the current law, a person may only be admitted into special probation if the person was convicted of a crime with a presumption of incarceration or minimum period of parole ineligibility and if the person also meets certain eligibility criteria.  The court must find on the record that:  1) the person must have undergone a professional diagnostic assessment to determine whether and to what extent the person is drug or alcohol dependent; 2) the person must have been drug or alcohol dependent at time the offense was committed; 3) the person was under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or alcohol at the time the person committed the offense or the person committed the offense to support the person’s drug or alcohol dependency; 4) treatment and monitoring will serve to benefit the person by addressing the person’s drug or alcohol dependency and will reduce the likelihood that the person will commit another offense; 5) the person did not possess a firearm at the time of the present offense or at the time of any pending criminal charge; 6) the person does not have two or more prior convictions for crimes of the first or second degree, or two or more convictions where one conviction was for a crime of the third degree, other than possession, use, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, and the other conviction was for a crime of the first or second degree; 7) the person has no prior convictions or pending charges for murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, or a similar crime under any state or federal law; 8) a suitable treatment facility is able to and has agreed to provide treatment services; and 9) no danger to community will result from the person being placed on special probation.

     Under the bill, in determining whether to place the person on special probation the court may consider these factors; the bill eliminates the requirement that the court must make these findings in order to place the person on special probation.

     The bill would not change the prohibition against admission to special probation for people who have a prior conviction or pending charges for murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, or a similar crime.

     Additionally, this bill would remove the provision that permits the prosecutor to object to special probation if the person has two or more separate prior convictions for crimes of the third degree.  Under current law, the prosecutor may object to the person being placed on special probation if: 1) the present conviction or adjudication of delinquency is for an offense involving distribution of a controlled dangerous substance on or near school property, placing a booby trap on property used to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled dangerous substance, or any crime for which there exists a presumption of imprisonment; 2) the person was previously convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for an offense involving the manufacture, distribution, or dispensation of a controlled dangerous substance; or 3) the person was previously convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes of the third degree, other than crimes involving possession, use, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance.  A court may not place a person on special probation over the prosecutor's objection except upon a finding of a gross and patent abuse of prosecutorial discretion, which finding is appealable.  Under this bill, two or more prior convictions for a crime of the third degree would no longer constitute grounds for the prosecutor to object to special probation.

     This bill would not make any changes to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-14, which provides that a person is ineligible for special probation if the offense the person has been convicted of is: 1) a crime of the first degree; 2) a crime of the first or second degree that is enumerated in N.J.S.A.2C:43-7.2, which is known as the “No Early Release Act;” 3) any crime involving a mandatory period of incarceration, other than distribution of a controlled dangerous substance on or near school property; or 4) distribution, or conspiracy to or attempt to distribute a controlled dangerous substance to a juvenile near or on school property.