What is a Conditional Discharge and How Can it Help Me?


If you have been charged with a crime, you may qualify for a diversion program or some sort of deferred prosecution that ends in a dismissal of the charges. For instance, a prosecutor may agree to dismiss a minor drug charge if you complete treatment, or the state may dismiss a larceny charge if you pay restitution to the prosecuting witness. But if you do not qualify for deferred prosecution or your county does not offer that program, then you may still qualify for a conditional discharge.

A conditional discharge is when the accused pleads guilty or is found guilty but instead of a judgment being entered by the court, a period of supervised probation is instead imposed. The length of that probation is up to the judge. At the end of that period, as long as the person has fully complied with probation, their charges will be dismissed. If that person fails, the judgment will be entered and the conviction becomes permanent. Let’s discuss the types of conditional discharges and which ones may apply to your situation:

Conditional Discharge Under N.C.G.S. 15A-1341(a4)

This is the most common form of conditional discharge. Anyone who pleads guilty to or is found guilty of any Class H or Class I felony or misdemeanor other than driving while impaired may be placed on conditional discharge probation upon a joint motion with the prosecutor. This means that the prosecutor must consent to allow the conditional discharge to occur. Before placing a person on conditional discharge probation under N.C.G.S. 15A-1341(a4), the court must find that:

  1. Each known victim has been notified and given an opportunity to be heard;
  2. The defendant has not been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude;
  3. The defendant has not previously been placed on probation; and
  4. The defendant is unlikely to commit another offense other than a Class 3 misdemeanor.

That means if you have been placed on probation for any previous offense, even unsupervised probation, you will unfortunately not qualify for this type of discharge.

G.S. 90-96

There are conditional discharges for drug offenses under this statute. These apply to eligible parties who plead guilty to or are found guilty of the following offenses:

  • Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in Schedules I–VI;
  • Felony possession of a controlled substance such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine;
  • Misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia or marijuana drug paraphernalia

People are eligible for a discharge who:

  1. Have no prior felony convictions of any type;
  2. Have no prior drug convictions; and
  3. Have never received a prior discharge and dismissal under G.S. 90-96

Drug Treatment Court

A court can place a convicted person on conditional discharge probation to participate in Drug Treatment Court. These programs are intensive and usually require a year or more of regular treatment sessions and monthly court dates to complete successfully. This type of Conditional Discharge is available to anyone regardless of their conviction history, so long as the county in which the charges are pending has access to a Drug Treatment Court. Mecklenburg and Gaston counties have one of these programs.

When Will I Want a Conditional Discharge?

An experienced lawyer will try many different ways of getting your case dismissed before a conditional discharge. Since every person normally gets one attempt at a dismissal through conditional discharge, any opportunity should be taken to find a way to dispose of the case before plea. Whether that is through drug or mental health treatment, paying restitution, or good old-fashioned negotiation, our attorneys at Jetton and Meredith try to get the prosecutor to consider not pursuing the charges. But if that fails, because the state’s evidence is strong or those methods are not agreeable to the prosecutor in your particular case, then a conditional discharge is a great option for you. It is a 100% chance for you to keep your record clean, so long as you do what you are asked to do by probation. That involves clean drug tests, staying out of trouble, meeting once a month with your officer, and paying any fines or restitution.

There are many convictions that cannot be expunged from your record that may be eventually dismissed and expunged by a Conditional Discharge. Here is a list of non-expungable charges that can be conditionally discharged:

  • Any assault conviction will permanently remain on your record
    • Simple Assault
    • Assault on Female
    • Assault with Deadly Weapon
    • Assault on Government Official
    • Assault By Pointing Gun
    • Assault in the Presence of a Minor
    • Assault by Strangulation
  • Any misdemeanor conviction that is a Class A1 offense will permanently remain on your record
    • Child Abuse
    • Sexual Battery
    • Stalking
    • Domestic Violence Protective Order Violation
    • Interfering with Emergency Communication
  • Any Class H or I felony drug conviction involving the sale or delivery of a controlled substance
    • PWISD, selling, or delivering marijuana
    • PWISD Cocaine, Heroin, or Methamphetamine
  • Felony Breaking and Entering

If the state is willing to allow you to enter into a conditional discharge, then you will have an opportunity to keep any of these permanent convictions off of your record.

Have you been charged with a crime and you are looking for a way to keep it off of your record? Contact our experienced lawyers at Jetton and Meredith at (704) 931-5535. We will fight to get the result that you deserve!