Many counties in North Carolina offer deferred prosecution programs for first time offenders. In order to be a first offender you cannot have any other criminal convictions on your record and you cannot have participated in a first offenders program in the past. Provided you complete all requirements of the program, including community service, paying any fees to the Program, and paying restitution to the victim, the charges against you will be dismissed at the end of the probationary term.
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony as a first offender in North Carolina? Do you need a Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney to help you navigate the system? Depending upon the county you’re in, you may be eligible to participate in a Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP). North Carolina’s General Assembly has approved of Deferred Prosecution for first offenders who have been charged with Class H and I felonies and misdemeanors (shoplifting, larceny etc.). Deferred Prosecution is designed to admit first offenders who – if convicted – would likely receive only a probationary sentence anyway. And if admitted, the first offender is basically on probation, with probation-like punishment such as performing community service, being under the supervision of a probation officer, and paying deferred prosecution fees. If completed successfully, the charges against the first offender will be dismissed on their criminal record. Then the first offender will be able to have the record of the charges expunged.
There are benefits for the alleged victim as well. For example, the victim does not have to wait years to receive restitution, and instead can receive it immediately from the first offender. The victim can know that the first offender has accepted responsibility for the crime. Also, the victim does not have to attend many/any court appearances.
The most important aspects of Deferred Prosecution that the first offender must be aware of are the required written admission of guilt and signing the Punishment Contract, which are often combined into one piece of paper. The first offender must admit guilt to the charges in writing. This is a significant requirement because if the first offender does not complete the probationary requirements successfully, the written admission can be used against the first offender in a traditional prosecution, though the first offender may still plead not guilty. Additionally once someone has entered the first offenders program they are no longer eligible for the program if later charged with another crime.
The Punishment Contract explains everything the first offender must complete during the probationary term. The typical requirements are paying a Deferred Prosecution Program fee, completing community service hours, and not committing any new crimes during the probationary period. The typical fee is $250. In Wake County, the usual number of community service hours is 75. If the first offender violates any provisions of the Punishment Contract, prosecution is reinstated and the written admission can be used against the Defendant. A Wake County criminal defense attorney with our law office can help explain the process during a free initial consultation about your case.
The last aspect of Deferred Prosecution worth knowing is that it is a voluntary program implemented by the local District Attorney’s office. As a voluntary program, no first offender is entitled to participate in Deferred Prosecution. First offenders are admitted at the discretion of the District Attorney’s office. Having an attorney to represent you and to argue your case for admission to Deferred Prosecution is a good idea.
If you would like advice as to whether you are eligible to participate in Deferred Prosecution as a first offender, call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC at (919) 585-1486 or submit an online email through this website.