The Grand Jury/Case Screening Unit reviews all cases in which an adult has been charged with an indictable offense in Burlington County. Although the majority of cases are prosecuted as indictable matters at the Superior Court level, some matters may be downgraded and referred to municipal court for prosecution as a disorderly persons offense. It is the responsibility of the assistant prosecutors in the Unit to screen all cases for factual and legal sufficiency. When additional issues are identified, or further investigation is warranted, the assistant prosecutors work with municipal police departments and county detectives to gather additional evidence. The assistant prosecutors also assist police officers with initial charging decisions. Once a case has been thoroughly screened and investigated, it is the responsibility of the Unit’s assistant prosecutors to present the cases to the Grand Jury.
In addition to screening each case, the assistant prosecutors in the Unit also administer the Pre-Indictment Program, referred to in this county as PIP. PIP is an alternative disposition tool for criminal matters which allows for possible pre-indictment resolutions in cases which might otherwise have been presented to the Grand Jury. Resolved cases are pled to accusations for indictable charges, with some occasionally being resolved for a lesser offense.
Another facet of the Grand Jury/Screening Unit is the Drug Court Program. Drug Court is a program for eligible defendants which focuses on treatment and rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration. The program is for those defendants who not only commit drug offenses, but other crimes motivated by his or her drug addiction. The Drug Court assistant prosecutor reviews every Drug Court application, represents the State’s interests to ensure that only qualified defendants are admitted, and prosecutes defendants within the parameters of Drug Court.
The Unit consists of five assistant prosecutors, three prosecutor’s agents, one detective and clerical personnel, and is supervised by an assistant prosecutor. In 2016, the Unit screened 5,038 complaints. Nearly 1,200 defendants were indicted.