Conditional discharge for first time drug offense in North Carolinaconditional discharge

Conditional discharge under N.C.G.S. 90-96 for first time drug offenders – A large portion of people who are incarcerated either at the state or federal level are incarcerated because of drug crimes.  Additionally, a large portion of people who have criminal records have them because of prior drug convictions.  Some states have taken some steps to reduce those numbers, including legalizing personal use amount of marijuana. Other states, such as North Carolina, which has not taken that step, have laws in place to assist first time drug offenders.

In this blog entry, we will discuss some options for first time drug offenders in North Carolina.  This is for informational purpose only and does not provide an adequate substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.  If you have been charged with a drug crime, you should hire a lawyer.

What law covers first time drug offenders in North Carolina?

North Carolina General Statute 90-96 covers conditional discharge for first time offenders in relationship to drug crimes.

How do I know if I am eligible under 90-96?

To be eligible, you must have been charged with an eligible offense and you must have an eligible criminal history. To be 90-96 mandatory, a person must not have had any prior drug convictions. In order for a charge to be eligible, it must be a misdemeanor or a low-level felony possession only charge. For example, felony possession of cocaine is 90-96 eligible, while possession of cocaine with intent to distribute is not. All misdemeanor drug crimes are eligible because none of these crimes involve the intent to distribute. It goes without saying that drug trafficking is not 90-96 eligible.

What is the process, and what do I have to do?

Under 90-96, initially you will have a conviction for the charged crime.  The conviction comes by way of guilty plea or being found guilty after a trial.  Once that is entered, the judge places the defendant under the 90-96 conditions when requested, as long as he is eligible.

The judge will then require the defendant to enter a drug treatment or drug education program.  There are also court fees that must be paid. The defendant is also not permitted to be convicted of any other crimes during this period. A review date will be set where another court appearance will be mandatory (between six months to one year away). If the review date arrives and the defendant is in compliance, their charges will be dismissed

Affects of 90-96 with regards to my criminal record

Expunction

If a defendant successfully completes the terms of their 90-96 conditional discharge, the charges will be dismissed. This means that they are immediately eligible for an expunction. You will, however, have to pay a $175 filing fee along with the petition for expunction.

If have been charged with a crime, contact us to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.