What Is the 90-96 Program for Drug Charges in North Carolina?


As the nation progresses towards a more lenient view of marijuana, legislatures have also had to come up with more lenient ways to handle minor drug offenses. Heavy punitive measures for minor drug offenses are no longer seen as workable for individuals who are arrested and charged for such crimes as simple possession of cocaine, methamphetamine, or other street drugs. In North Carolina, the state has recognized that rehabilitation for first-time minor drug offenders is a better way to go, resulting in a diversionary program called the 90-96 Program. This Program is named after the section of law that created it: N.C.G.S. Section 90-96.

Under the 90-96 Program, prosecution of alcohol and drug offenses for first-time offenders can be deferred once the program is completed. This gives you, as a first offender, the chance to obtain a case dismissal. Essentially, you are put on probation and must complete the terms of your diversionary program to obtain this dismissal.

The requirements to enter the 90-96 program are based on two scenarios. The first one falls under section (a) of the law, which qualifies you for a conditional discharge if you have no earlier misdemeanor or felony convictions for possessing an unlawful drug or drug paraphernalia. The second scenario makes the program available to those who have felony convictions that are not drug-based as well as misdemeanor convictions involving drugs that are more than seven years old. Typical charges that are open to the program include simple possession charges; if you have been charged with intent to distribute, you will not be eligible for the program.

What Are the Requirements for a 90-96 Program?

You must sign an admission of guilt as a requirement. Although this may sound serious, it will not be a problem as long as you adhere to all of the conditions required of you within a year. You will be required to take part in drug rehabilitation or drug education classes as part of the program. Initially, a drug assessment will be ordered by the court to determine what is needed, such as the extent of classes required. Additionally, while you are on the program, you must not be convicted of any other criminal offense.

Generally, a minimum of at least 15 hours of drug education classes are involved to be paid for at your own expense. These classes are provided by the state or a private agency. You may also be required to be on supervised probation while on the program, which will also involve fees. The big plus of the 90-96 program is that you can avoid going to jail and have your case dismissed. Once it is dismissed by the prosecutor, you can seek an expungement so that the conviction is no longer on your record. This means it will no longer be accessible on a background check; it will not impede future job, career, educational, or housing opportunities.

Want to Be Admitted to the 90-96 Program? Call Jetton & Meredith, PLLC.

If you are facing a drug charge, it is vital that you seek qualified legal help to ensure that you have the best chance of a favorable outcome. At Jetton & Meredith, PLLC, we routinely handle drug cases for both first offenders and others. If you are a first offender, we can help you seek the 90-96 Program from the court where applicable. Our legal team has an abundance of combined experience in criminal defense cases; we serve clients in Charlotte and throughout Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas.

Need legal help in a drug or other criminal charge? Call us at (704) 931-5535 to book a free consultation.