In State v. Rizzitello, Docket No. a-0536-15 (App. Div. 2016), a case originating with the defendant’s arrest in Brick Township , the Appellate Division was called upon to determine whether a defendant charged with fourth degree driving during a period of license suspension for a second or subsequent DWI conviction was presumptively ineligible for admission into PTI. The answer is “no.”
In relevant part, the Court held that:
The State argues the PTI judge erred by not reviewing defendant’s application as involving an offense that carries a presumption against admission into PTI. We disagree. As the Court explained in Roseman, both N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(b) and Guideline 3(i) specify the offenses that carry statutory presumptions against admission into PTI. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(b)(2)(b), the following types of crime carry a presumption against admission into PTI: (1) “any crime or offense involving domestic violence,” as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35, including crimes committed by a defendant while subject to temporary or permanent restraints issued pursuant to the PDVA; and (2) offenses involving violence or the threat of violence, or offenses where the defendant “is armed with and uses a deadly weapon or threatens by word or gesture to use a deadly weapon.” Guideline 3(i), meanwhile, creates a presumption against admission into PTI for: (3) any “first- or second-degree crime, [and] [(4)] any crime that is a breach of the public trust.”
The fourth degree offense that defendant is charged with committing here does not carry a presumption against admission into PTI under either N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(b) or Guideline 3(i). As our Supreme Court has explained, “When interpreting statutory language, the goal is to divine and effectuate the Legislature’s intent.” State v. Buckley, 216 N.J. 249, 263 (2013). As such, “there is no more persuasive evidence of legislative intent than the words by which the Legislature undertook to express its purpose; therefore, we first look to the plain language of the statute.” Here, nothing in the text of either N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(b) or Guideline 3(i) supports classifying the fourth degree offense codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b) as the type of crime that carries a presumption against admission into PTI. If the Legislature had intended this crime to carry a presumption against admission into PTI, it would have stated it plainly in the text of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(b).