As drug laws continue to loosen around the country, resulting in lesser penalties and the legalization of marijuana in some states, it’s becoming more obvious that jail time and other punitive measures are simply not the best way to deal with most drug offenders. North Carolina has actually recognized this for quite some time, and has instituted a program known as 90-96 that results in most minor drug offenses eventually being dismissed after a defendant is put on probation and takes drug education classes.
Qualifications and Requirements of the 90-96 Program
The program takes its name from the section of the law that authorizes it, N.C.G.S. § 90-96. Once a defendant applies for the program, he or she can seek to have a drug charge conditionally dismissed upon completing a drug education program.
The law has two different requirements to enter the 90-96 program. To qualify for a conditional discharge under § 90-96(a), which applies to most defendants, you must have no prior felony convictions and no prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia. The § 90-96(a1) program is available to those felony convictions in cases that do not involve drugs, and misdemeanor drug convictions that are more than seven years-old.
The 90-96 program is available in all misdemeanor controlled substance and paraphernalia cases and simple felony drug cases, such as possession of a small amount of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine.
Drug Classes and Fees for the 90-96 Program
Court fees to enter the 90-96 program are about $200. You will have to take a drug assessment ordered by the court to determine how many hours of classes you must take. Usually, you will be required to take at least 15 hours of classes. For these classes, you will have the option of signing up through the state or a private provider.
The cost of these classes ranges between $100 and $400. The state’s nonprofit program is more affordable, but you will usually have less choice about when classes are available.
Additional fees may apply if you’re placed on supervised probation while in the 90-96 program. This costs about $40 per month.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the 90-96 Program
The biggest draw of the 90-96 program is that it avoids jail time, and is relatively inexpensive. The downside is that to enter the program, you still have to be found guilty of or plead guilty to a drug charge before the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the case at the conclusion of the program. However, once the case is dismissed you may be able to have the conviction expunged from your record, a process that takes about one year to complete.
North Carolina Attorneys On the Side of Defendants
A drug conviction can have long-term effects on your career and personal life. Entering the 90-96 program and taking drug education classes may be the best option for your case. At Remington & Dixon, PLLC, we are committed putting together best defense possible for your case, which may involve deferment programs. Contact our Charlotte criminal defense lawyers today to schedule a confidential consultation. We offer flexible payment plans.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.