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Conditional Discharge in NC to Dismiss Criminal Charges

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Changes to NC Law Add a New Way to Dismiss Criminal Charges 9096

By:  D. Landon White, Criminal Defense Attorney

Recent legislation amends our probation statute, N.C.G.S. 15A-1341, and adds a new conditional discharge program whereby a defendant may seek dismissal of any misdemeanor or class H or I felony.  The new law goes into effect December 1, 2014 and operates similar to the 90-96 conditional discharge program where a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, the court does not enter judgment, and the defendant is placed on probation and given a compliance date.  If the defendant remains in compliance with all imposed conditions, the charges are dismissed on the compliance date.

The new conditional discharge program is not a mandatory provision.  The court may put the defendant in the conditional discharge program upon joint motion of the defendant and the prosecutor if the court finds:

  1. Each known victim of the crime has been notified of the motion for
    probation by subpoena or certified mail and has been given an opportunity to
    be heard;
  2. The defendant has not been convicted of any felony or of any misdemeanor
    involving moral turpitude;
  3. The defendant has not previously been placed on probation and so states
    under oath; and
  4. the defendant is unlikely to commit another offense other than a Class 3
    misdemeanor.

Similar to the N.C.G.S. 90-96(a1) conditional discharge program for certain drug offenses, receiving the benefit of the new conditional discharge statute is discretionary.  If seeking placement in the new conditional discharge, the first step is to convince the prosecutor to consent to your placement or at least keep them from opposing your motion for placement.  Next, the judge must be convinced the defendant should be placed in the conditional discharge program as the use of “may” makes placement in the judge’s discretion.

Placement in the conditional discharge program will usually require more than simply showing up and expecting the ADA’s consent and the judge’s approval.  When facing such discretionary situations with clients, Triangle Criminal Defense Group undertakes to put its clients in the best position for placement.  The attorney puts time and effort into gathering information showing the defendant’s good character and, after assessing the situation, advising the defendant of any helpful endeavors  outside of court to be completed before the court date.

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