A conviction in North Carolina can result in serious penalties such as jail or prison time, as well as a permanent criminal record, which can make it difficult to get employed, find a place to live, apply for college, and turn your life around after serving time. Fortunately, the courts understand that many people facing criminal charges are not repeat offenders and/or suffer from substance abuse, which is why criminal diversion programs are available in the state.
There are several adult diversion programs for first-time offenders or those accused of minor offenses, as well as individuals dealing with alcohol or drug addiction. When a person meets all conditions of a program, his/her charges will be dismissed.
Here are some of the criminal diversion programs for adults in North Carolina:
- Informal First Offender Program – If you have been charged with a low-level misdemeanor or felony offense, your criminal defense lawyer could come to an agreement with the Assistant District Attorney overseeing your case. Common conditions include community service, court fees, restitution, and counseling.
- Alcohol Education Program – If you have been charged with an alcohol-related misdemeanor, you may enter this program. Once you sign an admission of guilt, you must complete 15 hours of classes, pay court and program fees, and avoid committing another criminal offense for one year, continue working or going to school, and submit to random drug testing.
- Drug Education Program – If you are a first-time misdemeanor drug offender, this program offers you education and life skills to help you overcome your addiction. If you have been charged with a drug crime other than possession, have been convicted of a crime, or have previously participated in a deferral program, you are not eligible for this program. The terms of this program are the same as the alcohol education program.
- Conditional Discharge 90/96 Program – Another program designed to help first-time drug offenders, such as drug or paraphernalia possession, you must complete a drug abuse assessment program, pay court costs and fines, and perform community service.
- Felony Drug Diversion Program – If you are charged with a first-time felony drug offense, you may enter this program that lasts one year. After you sign an admission of guilt, you must complete 225 community service hours, submit to random drug testing, continue working or going to school, avoid any criminal convictions, and meet with a case manager each month.
The following are a few diversion programs available for youth offenders:
- Misdemeanor Diversion Programs – Designed for juvenile offenders who are 16 or 17 years of age, these programs are customized based on a participant’s needs in order to develop healthy life skills.
- Juvenile Diversion Team – While this program is not available for youth offenders already in the juvenile court system, it is designed to address runaways, truancy, and classroom disruption. The purpose is to help minors avoid being involved in the court system at some point in their lives.
- Alternative to Commitment Projects – Rather than being placed in a youth development center, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils created programs to help prevent and reduce juvenile crime and delinquency.