When individuals find themselves facing criminal charges in North Carolina, they may wonder if there are alternatives to the traditional court process. Deferred prosecution is one such alternative. The program seeks to give certain individuals facing criminal charges a second chance to avoid a conviction and its consequences.
The deferred prosecution program may be available to eligible individuals facing charges for certain non-violent criminal offenses. This opportunity is not granted automatically. Instead, it is only available on a case-by-case basis.
Eligibility criteria for North Carolina’s deferred prosecution program include the nature of the offense, the individual’s criminal history and the prosecutor’s discretion. Generally, this program is available for first-time offenders facing non-violent charges such as minor drug possession, theft or certain traffic violations.
If an individual is eligible for deferred prosecution, he or she must fulfill certain obligations. Participants on probation and may have to perform a specified number of hours of community service within a designated timeframe.
Depending on the nature of the offense, individuals may also need to attend counseling, drug rehabilitation or anger management programs. Participants also must adhere to scheduled meetings with a probation officer or program supervisor. They also must not commit any additional crimes during the program period. In some cases, individuals may also have to pay fines or restitution to comply with program requirements.
Typically, the probationary program lasts up to two years. Upon completing the program, criminal charges undergo dismissal. The individual also avoids a formal conviction on his or her record.