If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony in North Carlina, you may face a lengthy jail or prison sentence, large fines, and other punishments if you are convicted. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record that could limit your ability to obtain employment, housing, loans, and more.
You may have options to avoid these harsh consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to raise strong defenses to the charges you face or employ other strategies that can result in the charges against you being dismissed.
Reasons the Prosecutor Could Dismiss the Charges
Going to a trial and being found not guilty is not the only way to get the charges against you dropped. Your lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to voluntarily dismiss the charges for these reasons:
- Not enough evidence. The prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard of proof. Your attorney will have an opportunity to review the evidence against you and may be able to convince the prosecutor that they have insufficient evidence to convict you.
- Suppressed evidence. If the evidence against you was collected improperly or mishandled by the police, your lawyer may be able to file a motion to have the evidence excluded from being used against you. If the motion is granted, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence against you and voluntarily agree to dismiss the charges—even if they believe you are guilty.
- Changed statements. In many criminal cases, such as domestic violence, a victim’s or witness’ statement could be the key evidence to convict a defendant. If this is true in your criminal case, the prosecutor may be forced to drop the charges if the witness or victim refuses to cooperate or changes their story.
Three Programs in North Carolina That Can Result in the Charges Against You Being Dropped
Another option you have is to successfully complete a special program offered in North Carolina that would result in the charges against you being dismissed. However, the prosecutor would have to agree to allow you to enter into one of these programs, which is not guaranteed.
You have a much greater chance of the prosecutor agreeing to this proposal if you are represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney. Here are the three main programs that could help you get the charges dropped.
The deferred prosecution program would allow for the charges against you to be dropped after you successfully complete certain conditions set while you are on probation. This could include paying restitution to the victim, completing community service, drug testing, and not committing any other crimes. The eligibility requirements for this program are:
- You must have been charged with a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony.
- You must not have been on probation before or been convicted of another offense.
- The victim must be notified of your agreement with the prosecutor and not object to it.
- You must be unlikely to commit any other criminal offenses.
The conditional discharge program is similar to the deferred prosecution program. However, you must plead guilty or be found guilty of a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony before being eligible for this program. In addition, the following requirements must be met:
- The victim of the crime must be notified of this possible sentence and be given an opportunity to be heard.
- You cannot have been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony involving moral turpitude.
- You must not have ever been placed on probation.
- You are unlikely to commit any other crime other than a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Conditional Discharges in Drug Offense Cases
If you were arrested for a drug crime, you may be eligible for another conditional discharge program for drug offense convictions. This program may be an option if you were charged with a misdemeanor offense for possession of a Schedule I to VI controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance, or misdemeanor possession of drug or marijuana paraphernalia. You must also have no prior felony convictions, no convictions of Article 5 of N.C.G.S. Chapter 90, and have not received a conditional discharge in the past.
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Mecklenburg County? Our knowledgeable criminal defense team is here to aggressively defend you and help you enter in one of these or other programs that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation today.