If you have been charged with a misdemeanor drug offense in North Carolina, such as possession of less than a half ounce of marijuana, you may be eligible for the 90-96 conditional discharge program if you are a first time offender — meaning you have not been convicted of a felony or any previous drug offense.
Under the 90-96 program, a defendant charged with a misdemeanor drug offense can have his or her charge dismissed after a certain period of time (usually six months) after completing certain conditions of probation. Often, these conditions include a drug and alcohol abuse assessment, counseling or awareness classes, and sometimes, although rarely, community service. If the defendant does not receive any other charges during the probation period and successfully completes all conditions of his or her probation, the charge will be dismissed.
If a defendant requests the option of the 90-96 program, he or she will be required to meet with the program coordinators briefly, who will explain the program in detail, including the requirements, costs and time frame. The defendant then has the option to participate in the program or choose another route. If the defendant chooses to participate, the assistant district attorney will sign off on it, and then the defendant will quickly appear in front of the judge. The judge will ask if the defendant understands the conditions of the program and whether he or she consents to participate. The judge will then set a return date to show the defendant is in compliance. If he or she is in compliance, the charge will be dismissed. Generally, a criminal defense attorney can appear on the compliance date in place of the defendant, however that is up to the judge and assistant district attorney. The criminal defense lawyers at Guirguis Law can appear on your behalf for a compliance date in Wake or Durham County. For more information, contact us at (919) 832-0500.
What happens if a defendant fails to complete the 90-96 program properly? In this situation, the court will often find the defendant guilty. Sometimes, but not always, the court will allow the defendant more time to complete the conditions. This tends to happen if the defendant can prove he or she suffered a long term illness or some other very unfortunate circumstance.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor possession or possession of drug paraphernalia, contact Guirguis Law at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on how we can help.