Deferral Agreements or Diversion Programs
Lower level criminal charges, including felonies, can result in a deferred prosecution agreement whereby the client agrees to perform community service, provide restitution, or complete drug or alcohol treatment programs.
Successful completion of the program results in either a reduction of the charges, or a complete dismissal of the criminal counts.
If a client is committed to abiding by the agreement, and is intent on completing the requirements, a deferred prosecution agreement or diversion program can be an effective way of resolving a case.
Diversion programs can be formal or informal. Formal agreements can be specifically authorized by statute, or can be written agreements between the prosecutor and the defendant. These agreements are usually negotiated by the prosecutor and defense lawyer.
Diversion agreements are not common in the federal system, except in very minor drug cases.
The 90-96 Drug Program
A 90-96 drug program may be offered, including drug treatment, community service, and the requirement that the person not commit new offenses during the period of the program.
A felony diversion program requires the client complete 225 hours of community service during a year, receive a Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) assessment, and complete recommended treatment.
The misdemeanor program requires an assessment, treatment, and 75 hours of community service during the year.
The Alternative Program
Special programs exist for nurses (and other medical professionals) accused of diverting pharmaceuticals from patients or hospitals. The North Carolina Nursing Board oversees the program for nurses which, if completed, restores a nurse's full license. These programs are demanding, requiring additional treatment, regular drug testing, and a psychological evaluation by a professional employed by the Board. The demanding nature of the program means a high failure rate.
A medical professional criminally charged with prescription fraud or the diversion of controlled substances may be offered a diversion agreement that requires them to complete the Nursing Board's program.
Domestic Violence Deferrals
Domestic violence cases involving first time offenses often result in a deferred prosecution agreement. These agreements require the person to complete some type of anger management treatment or Domestic Offenders Sentenced to Education (DOSE) program. In less serious cases, a person may simply need to have no contact with the victim, and complete individualized therapy.
In Wake County, domestic violence deferral programs almost always require the participant to relinquish his rights to ever request an expungement. Evidence of the arrest will always exist in these circumstances, which can cause problems in the future with employment or obtaining certain professional licenses.
Admission of Guilt
A formal deferred prosecution agreement requires the defendant to admit guilt at the beginning of the program. The admission of guilt usually includes a waiver of trial and appeal rights. The admission of guilt ensures that if the person fails to complete the program, the prosecutor can ask the court to record the conviction and enter judgment.
Where the person completes the program, the admission of guilt usually has no collateral effect, except for non-citizens who wish to remain in the country and for people who wish to pursue professional licensing or certain careers in the law, law enforcement, or government.
Immigration cases are among the most complicated because United States immigration law permits immigration officials to use any admission of guilt, even that admission does not result in a criminal conviction, to preclude citizenship, or even result in removal from the country.