The 90-96 program provides for a conditional discharge of certain drug offenses in North Carolina after completion of a drug education class while on probation. Under NCGS 90-96(a) and NCGS 90-96(a1), successful completion of the conditions set by the Judge results in dismissal of the eligible charges. This statewide statutorily created program allows many defendants the opportunity to have misdemeanor and even felony drug related charges dismissed and ultimately expunged from their record completely. This list includes but is not limited to drugs such as marijuana, but also includes cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine, opiates, and LSD.
What charges qualify for conditional discharge under 90-96?
Requirements for conditional discharge under 90-96(a):
Requirements for conditional discharge under 90-96(a1):
How much does the 90-96 program cost?
The fees usually include ~$200 in Court fees and whatever fees are required for the drug education classes. Drug education class fees typically run another $100-$400 depending on whether you use a non-profit State run program or a for-profit private provider. Although a private provider may cost more money one advantage is it gives you control over whether the provider you choose requires random drug testing. Another advantage is private providers often have weekend and evening classes that may better fit your work schedule. Perhaps the best reason to choose a private provider, if you can afford it, is a private provider knows you have a choice, and hence they tend to treat you with much more respect.
Do I have to pay probation fees on the 90-96 program?
If the Judge places you on supervised probation then you may face probation fees of ~$40 per month. Best case scenario is unsupervised probation (where you don’t have monthly meetings or fees) for six (6) months or less.
Can I be drug tested on the 90-96 program?
Yes- although this requirement varies by County, Judge, and drug education provider.
What if I have had a prior conviction years ago?
If you have not had any convictions in the prior seven (7) you may still be eligible for the more intensive program under NCGS 90-96(a1) which requires a minimum one (1) year probation term.
What do the drug classes involve?
The drug education requirement generally requires a drug assessment that results in a recommendation of at least 15 hours of classes.
Is a 90-96 the same as deferred prosecution?
No- In the 90-96 program the defendant is convicted, but placed on probation without the Court entering judgment, pending review at the end of the probation period. This is different than a deferred prosecution that does not involve an initial conviction. That being said successful completion of the 90-96 program is similar to a deferred prosecution because the eligible charges are ultimately dismissed.
Do I have to have an attorney to apply for the 90-96 program?
An attorney is not required, but is always advisable especially in criminal Court. If you cannot afford to hire legal counsel you may be eligible for a Court appointed attorney.
Is there any advantage to hiring an attorney?
An attorney may convince the District Attorney you are not guilty and therefore the case should be dismissed outright, without going through the 90-96 program. Another possibility, depending on the County, is a formal or informal deferred prosecution as opposed to the 90-96 program.
Are there risks to entering the 90-96 program?
You can only enter this program after you have been found guilty or plead guilty. This means that if you violate any terms imposed by the Judge relating to probation, drug classes, drug testing, new charges, paying fees, etc... then you may be immediately sentenced. Do not waive your right to a trial if you have any doubts about whether you can successfully complete the program.
Can I expunge the charges after successful completion of the 90-96 program?
Yes- you may eligible as soon as the case is dismissed. The expunction process takes another 9-12 months to complete and there is a ~$175 filing fee to the Court.
90-96 AOC Forms: