What Is the 90-96 Program for Drug Charges in North Carolina?
Getting caught with drugs does not have to mean time in jail. In North Carolina, an alternative punishment called the 90-96 program allows people with certain drug charges to avoid the harshest penalties. If you complete the program, you could get your charges dismissed, which in turn would allow you to have the charges expunged from your record.
What Is G.S. 90-96?
G.S. 90-96 is a law allowing conditional discharge of certain drug offenders’ convictions. Upon conviction, an eligible defendant is placed on probation, and the actual judgment of the case is not entered into the criminal record.
If the defendant fulfills all the probation requirements, including a drug education program, the charges get dismissed, and the conviction is discharged. Essentially, the individual no longer has a conviction on their record. The arrest and charges may remain on their record unless later expunged through a separate application process.
What Offenses Qualify for the Program?
To qualify for the 90-96(a) program, a defendant cannot have any prior felony or misdemeanor convictions involving possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia.
The 90-96(a1) program is available to defendants with felony convictions that do not involve drugs or who have misdemeanor drug convictions over seven years old.
The Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) (S.L. 2011-192) made changes to G.S. 90-96 regarding who qualifies for the program. Anyone with any misdemeanor controlled substance or drug paraphernalia case or a simple felony drug case may qualify for the 90-96 program. A simple felony drug case includes possession of a small amount of a scheduled substance.
What Are the Program’s Requirements?
The court may order a variety of requirements for a defendant taking part in the 90-96 program. Some of those requirements may include:
- Paying court fees
- Taking a drug assessment
- Taking at least 15 hours of drug education classes
- Paying for drug education coursework
- Complying with supervised probation
- Paying fees for supervised probation
Additionally, the judge may order you to do community service or pay restitution before completing the program.
What Happens if the Terms Are Violated?
If the terms of the 90-96 program are violated, the court may enter a guilty verdict and sentence the defendant. In some of these cases, the defendant may face time in jail and significant fines.
If you are accused of violating the terms of your 90-96 program, you should immediately reach out to a drug crime lawyer who can present a strong defense in your case. You could try to negotiate new terms or defend against violation allegations.
What Happens When You Complete the Program?
The JRA and G.S. 90-96 allow discharge and dismissal of any misdemeanor or felony simple possession crime regardless of the schedule or amount of the illegal substance. Possession of drug paraphernalia can also be discharged and dismissed upon successfully completing the 90-96 program.
One of the biggest perks of the 90-96 program is that once completed, defendants can apply for an expunction of the charge dismissed from their record. In order words, there will be no indication that they were charged with a crime.
What Is the Cost & Duration of the Program?
The duration of the 90-96 program is up to the judge in the court where you were charged. The judge determines how long you have to take drug education classes, the length of your probation, and whether your probation is supervised or unsupervised.
The 90-96 program also has several costs, including, but not limited to:
- Court fees
- Drug education class costs
- Monthly supervision fees for probation
- Community Service fees
Discuss 90-96 Program Eligibility with a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were charged with certain drug offenses, you may have options other than going to jail and paying hefty fines. To find out if you are eligible for the 90-96 program, contact the legal team at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Lawyers. We will evaluate your case and help you get the best outcome possible.