Many of our clients are first time offenders and have never had any experience with the criminal justice system. Often these clients are high school or college students that made a mistake involving drugs, alcohol, or shoplifting that they are trying to correct. Outside of general anxieties, the most common question is what type of consequences they can expect to see in court.
Fortunately, North Carolina offers leniency to individuals with clean criminal records, especially if the charged offense is a misdemeanor. While the specific policies of formal first offender programs can be complex and you should call an attorney to discuss your particular circumstances, first time defendants may be eligible for a conditional deferrral. Under a conditional deferral agreement, the defendant contracts with the State for a dismissal of the charges in exchange for completion of either community service hours or a drug/alcohol assessment and education classes.
In addition to completing the required community service or education classes, the defendant cannot pick up any new criminal convictions during the period of time the charges are pending. The risk for the defendant is that failure to complete his or her obligations under the agreement can result in automatic entry of a guilty plea. Despite this danger, it is often in a client's best interest to take advantage of the first offender conditional deferral since it allows the individual to retain control of their case and have the charge(s) dismissed so long as they are able to responsibly satisfy the terms of the agreement. Upon dismissal of the charges, most clients are also eligible to have the charges expunged from their record.
If you've been charged with a crime and have an otherwise clean criminal history, you may be eligible to participate in one of North Carolina's first offender programs. Contact the attorneys at Dysart Law a call for a free consultation either through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 919-747-8380.