If you are charged with committing a crime in North Carolina, you will need to decide at some point whether to plead guilty or defend yourself at a trial. Even if you believe you are innocent, you may realize that accepting a plea bargain in your case is the right decision. One option that could help you is to obtain a conditional discharge of the charges against you.
What Is a Conditional Discharge?
A conditional discharge is a less harsh sentence that a judge can impose in a criminal case. A defendant can be given this option after pleading guilty or being found guilty of a crime. When a conditional discharge is granted, the individual is placed on probation, and specific conditions must be met during the probationary time period. If they comply with all the terms, their case will be dismissed by the judge after their probation ends.
When Can You Obtain a Conditional Discharge?
Only certain criminal offenses can be resolved by a conditional discharge. There are separate rules for obtaining a conditional discharge of certain drug offenses.
Under N.C.G.S. 15A-1341, a defendant who is found guilty of a Class H or I felony or a misdemeanor other than a charge of impaired driving may be eligible for a conditional discharge. In order for a conditional discharge to be granted, the prosecutor and defendant must file a joint motion with the court. In addition, the judge must find all of the following:
- Any victims of the crime have been notified of the motion by subpoena or certified mail and have been given an opportunity to be heard.
- The defendant was never convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that involved moral turpitude.
- The defendant was never placed on probation in the past and testifies to this under oath.
- The defendant is unlikely to commit any other crime other than a Class 3 misdemeanor.
If the individual successfully completes the terms of their probation, the benefit of a conditional discharge is that the charges against them will be dismissed. If they violate their probation, the judge would sentence them for the crime they pled guilty to committing.
Have you been charged with a crime eligible for a conditional discharge? Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys can help you mount a strong defense to the charges you face and assist you in deciding if a conditional discharge is a good option for you. Don’t delay the legal representation you need. Call our Charlotte office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation today.