Criminal Diversion Programs in North Carolina

A criminal conviction, unless expunged, will likely stay on your record forever. Even after serving time in prison, a criminal conviction will follow you, making it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, and restore your reputation. 

Fortunately, North Carolina has a few criminal diversion programs which take the place of traditional sentencing and punishment. Here, we give an overview of a couple of these programs and discuss who might be eligible for them. 

What Is a Criminal Diversion Program?

A criminal diversion program is an alternative to a conviction. It is a form of sentencing in which a defendant participates in a rehabilitation program to avoid a criminal conviction. These programs are available only to certain offenders in North Carolina. Depending on the offense and the details of the program, you may be able to have your case dismissed and your record sealed upon completion of the program. 

Conditional Discharge 90/96 Program

Certain first-time drug offenders charged with low-level drug crimes such as possession of a small quantity of illegal substances are eligible for this program. Only those defendants who do not have any prior drug convictions or other felony convictions are eligible. Generally speaking, your charges may be dismissed if you participate in community service, complete a substance use assessment program, and pay court costs and fines.

Felony Drug Diversion Program 

This program lasts for one year and is available to certain first-time drug felons. To complete the program and have a charge potentially dismissed, you must:

  • Sign an admission of guilt 
  • Submit to random drug tests 
  • Complete 225 hours of community service
  • Meet with a case manager monthly 
  • Stay in school or at work
  • Avoid further criminal charges and convictions 

Drug and Alcohol Education Programs 

There are also criminal diversion programs specifically for first-time misdemeanor alcohol offenders and first-time misdemeanor drug offenders with no intent to distribute, no prior criminal record, and who have never participated in a diversion program before. Upon completion of the program, your charge may be dismissed. To complete the program, you must: 

  • Admit guilt 
  • Complete fifteen hours of rehabilitation classes
  • Pay court fees 
  • Avoid any other criminal conviction for one year 
  • Stay in school or at work 
  • Submit to drug tests 

A Criminal Diversion Program Might Be Right for You 

In addition to the state’s formal criminal diversion programs, first-time offenders who are charged with minor crimes in North Carolina may be eligible for an informal criminal diversion program. If you’ve been charged with a crime in North Carolina, especially if you are a first-time offender, reach out to a North Criminal defense attorney to discuss whether a criminal diversion program might be an option for you.