What are Deferred Prosecutions and Should I Do One?


A North Carolina deferred prosecution, simply put, is a contract between a criminal defendant and the State of North Carolina. Deferred Prosecutions are a tool used in the justice system to move cases in a positive direction for both parties. In a deferred prosecution, the defendant will agree to complete certain items, and in exchange, the State agrees that upon the successful completion of the terms of the agreement they will voluntarily dismiss the action against the Defendant. In North Carolina, there are two kinds of deferred prosecution, formal and informal.

Informal deferred prosecutions are agreements between Defendant’s (often through their attorney) and the Prosecutor to accomplish some tasks in exchange for the dismissal of the case. These usually do not formally end up in front of a judge, but rather are continued by the agreement of the parties in order to give the Defendant time to complete the necessary tasks. When these tasks are done, the State simply dismisses the case noting compliance.

Formal deferred prosecutions are very different. There are several types of formal deferred prosecutions, from the well-known and mandatory 90-96, to the lesser-known and never mandatory 15A deferred prosecution. One element that all of these formal deferred prosecutions share is that they are executed contracts, in writing, completed in front of the judge. Another shared characteristic of the formal deferred prosecution is the necessity of the Defendant to admit fault or allocate. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT EVEN THOUGH A FORMAL DEFERRED PROSECUTION WOULD RESULT IN YOUR CASE BEING DISMISSED, THIS ALLOCUTION CAN STILL BE USED AGAINST YOU FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Why should you think about electing a deferred prosecution? Even in the best cases where the facts and the law are both on your side, a judge may still make the wrong decision and rule against you. A deferred prosecution guarantees that once you complete the tasks required that your case will be dismissed. That being said, a deferred prosecution is not available to everyone and is not right for everyone. It is important to have a lawyer on your side who not only understands your individual situation, but also the other potential ramifications that may come from the completion of a deferred prosecution.

If you are facing criminal charges and would like to speak with an attorney about this type of case, please contact one of our knowledgeable Criminal Defense attorneys today.