What Is the First Offenders Program in North Carolina?


Are you facing a first-time criminal offense in or around the greater Charlotte area? If so, you are likely anxious about how this will affect your future. Up until now, you have been a law-abiding member of society. Now, if you are convicted of a crime, you will be stuck with a criminal record that anyone who runs a background check on you can find. That can be an obstacle for future job opportunities, housing applications, professional licensing, and more. Your chances for gaining entry into a professional career as a pilot, nurse, realtor, pharmacist, teacher, building contractor, and more may be damaged.

Luckily, a provision for first offenders of certain offenses may be available to you through North Carolina’s First Offender Programs. These are diversionary programs giving alternative sentencing that concentrates on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. They can give first offenders a second chance at life who, otherwise, would be hampered by having made one mistake that can destroy a future.

Who Can Get a First Offender Program?

Not all criminal offenses have the option of entry into a diversionary program. These programs are most common for those who have misdemeanor offenses involving drug crimes, theft or property crimes, and domestic violence.

In order to qualify for such a program, you will generally have to complete actions such as the following (depending on the offense you have committed):

  • Admit your guilt for having committed the offense
  • Enter and complete drug/alcohol education and/or rehab (if the offense was drug/alcohol related)
  • Submit to drug testing (if the offense was drug related)
  • Submit to anger management classes
  • Pay a fine to the court
  • Pay restitution to victims if the crime involved theft, shoplifting, criminal trespass, etc.
  • Complete community service hours
  • Get a job, remain in school, or go back to school
  • Accept and complete any other terms of probation ordered by the court

Once you complete the requirements specific to you, your case will be available for dismissal. Once it is dismissed, it will likely be eligible for expungement, which will mean that it will no longer be available on a routine background check run by future employers, landlords, or others. You will have a clean slate going forward.

First Offender Programs generally share similar eligibility requirements that include having no prior criminal convictions, having no charges currently pending, and not being currently enrolled in any other type of alternative sentencing. By entering into a diversionary program, you will avoid jail time which is a big plus.

Need Help in a First Offense?

If you are facing a first offense and want to know your chances for a getting into a diversionary program, we recommend that you talk to one of our knowledgeable legal team. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we have helped countless first offenders avoid incarceration and other severe penalties in lieu of probationary conditions that can get your case dismissed.

Ready to talk? Contact us at (704) 931-5535 for a free consultation.