What You Need to Know About North Carolina Criminal Diversion Programs

Any felony or misdemeanor conviction could mean extended court supervision, high fines, and jail or prison time, even for defendants with no criminal record. Any criminal conviction has lasting consequences in terms of things like the ability to obtain student aid, the freedom to pursue certain careers, and even find a nice place to live. So, Raleigh criminal defense attorneys work very hard to avoid criminal convictions whenever possible.

Fortunately, Wake County offers a number of pretrial diversion programs in many drug and alcohol cases. So, in many cases, defendants do not have to go to trial to obtain a favorable outcome. If a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer presents an effective defense, such as an improper search in a drug possession case, prosecutors are even more willing to offer pretrial diversion. Some programs for adults include:

  • 90-96 Conditional Discharge Program – First-time offenders charged with low-level drug cases, like possession of an extremely small amount of drugs or possession of drug paraphernalia, are eligible for this program. Prosecutors normally dismiss the charges after the defendant performs community service, pays a small fine, and completes other program requirements.
  • Drug Education Program – All first-time misdemeanor drug offenders usually qualify for this program. Program requirements are a bit higher, including a conditional admission of guilt. Other program requirements include random drug testing and full-time employment or education. Wake County’s DEP also includes some life skills courses.
  • Felony Drug Diversion Program – This diversion program, which lasts an entire year, is for first-time drug felons. In addition to the DEP requirements, participants in the felony diversion program must complete 200 hours of community service and report to a case manager at least once a month.
  • Alcohol Education Program – This modified DEP is geared toward alcohol-related offenses. Non-DWI offenders, such as possessing a fake ID or MIP (Minor In Possession of alcohol), can get their cases dismissed if they complete program requirements within the time allotted.
  • Informal First Offenders Program – Generally, overworked prosecutors offer pretrial diversion in most non-violent misdemeanors, as well as some felonies. As mentioned, if a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer presents a solid defense, favorable plea bargains which include things like pretrial diversion are more common.

Wake County also offers several pretrial diversion programs for juvenile offenders. Typically, most youthful defendants are eligible for pretrial diversion. The mindset in these situations is rehabilitation, whereas the mindset is punishment if the offender is an adult.

  • Misdemeanor Diversion Programs – In some cases, this diversion program avoids both an arrest and conviction record. Each program has different requirements, according to the defendant’s needs and the nature of the offense.
  • Juvenile Diversion Team – This early intervention program is designed to keep children out of the system altogether. The JDT addresses issues like missed school attendance, disruptive behavior in class, and running away from home.

Plea bargaining in America probably goes back to the Salem witch trials in 1692. However, those trials definitely did not include pretrial diversion programs. These kinds of plea bargains began in the 1960s and have grown exponentially since then.

If you face criminal charges in North Carolina, the Raleigh criminal defense lawyers at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law, may be able to get your entire case dismissed, or at least help you avoid serving time behind bars. For more information, fill out the form to the right or call us at (919) 887-8040.