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  • Coastal South Law

Are There Second Chances Under North Carolina Law?

Facing criminal charges can be one of the most terrifying experiences a person confronts in their lifetime. Criminal charges can derail someone’s life if not handled correctly. The pressure of this knowledge can feel overwhelming, particularly if you have tried hard to live like an upstanding citizen. It feels unfair that a single criminal charge could affect the way you are viewed and treated after a lifetime. It feels even more unfair when the charge is not warranted. However, all hope is not lost. You do not have to shoulder the burden of navigating the criminal justice system on your own.

Particularly if this is your first charge, you will be relieved to learn that there are options available to you. While each case is different, there are opportunities for second chances under North Carolina law, such as conditional discharges and deferred prosecutions. An experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney can review the specific facts and circumstances of your case and help you determine the path to the best possible outcome for you.

Conditional Discharges

A conditional discharge is generally negotiated by your lawyer with the prosecution. In most cases, it requires a defendant to either plead guilty or to be found guilty. However, the defendant is then placed on probation without the guilty judgment ever being entered. If the defendant meets the terms of their probation, the charge will be dropped completely. On the other hand, if the defendant violates the terms of their probation, the charge will be entered as guilty and the defendant will be sentenced accordingly.

Deferred Prosecutions

Deferred prosecution applies to misdemeanors, as well as class H and I felonies. Most misdemeanors will be handled with informal deferred prosecution, while felonies and high-level misdemeanors will require formal deferred prosecutions. In both cases, deferred prosecution essentially means that the prosecutors will drop the charges against you in the event that you meet certain conditions. These conditions vary based on each particular case, but may include things like paying restitution to the victim or victim’s family, completing a drug or alcohol dependency course, or other conditions as determined by the court.

Not everyone can qualify for consideration of a deferred prosecution. The criteria to qualify for this kind of arrangement include that the defendant not have prior convictions or probations and that the defendant be unlikely to commit further crimes. The defendant must also be aware of and voluntarily enter into this agreement with the court, which must be offered by the prosecution.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina, it is important to retain quality legal defense as soon as possible. The sooner you get experienced legal counsel on your side, the sooner your lawyer can start zealously advocating on your behalf and ensuring that your rights are protected. In the criminal justice system, the longer you wait to retain counsel, the less your counsel can do to help, so do not waste another minute. Contact the experienced Southeastern North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers at Coastal South Law today and schedule a consultation.

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