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What can you do when your opioid addiction leads to drug charges?

However your addiction started, whether a prescription after surgery or recreational use at a party, you never planned to end up facing criminal charges. You know you need help but you aren’t sure where to start.

The good news is North Carolina is working hard to fight the opioid epidemic. Many people in the state recognize that the problem is a health problem, not a criminal problem, and they are looking for creative solutions to that problem. One of those solutions is first-time offender criminal diversion programs.


The 90-96 program for drug offenses

North Carolina statute section 90-96 allows low-level, first-time drug offenders conditional discharge if they complete a drug education class while on probation. A judge sets out the conditions for you, and if you meet those conditions, the judge will dismiss the charges. You may even have these charges eventually expunged from your record. You do not have to serve jail time, but you do have to plead guilty to the drug charge. Examples of charges that may qualify include:

  • Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Class I felony of a controlled substance

First time felony drug offenders may also be able to participate, although the program has more requirements, including substantial community service. Felony diversion participants may have some types of misdemeanor charges on their records, but no prior felony convictions.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program

Several counties in North Carolina are launching a new diversion program. The program diverts low-level offenders into community programs and services before police criminally charge them. The program coordinates services with mental health providers and treatment centers. LEAD is modeled after a program developed in King County, Washington. There, the program has successfully reduced recidivism rates by 58%. LEAD is currently operating in Fayetteville, Wilmington, Waynesville, Statesville and Mooresville.

Mental health jail diversion programs

The state has a jail diversion program for people with mental illnesses. Over 72% of people who are in jail with a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem. The jail diversion program is targeted for people who meet the following criteria:

  • Low-level and non-violent offenders in jail
  • Have a mental illness
  • Do not pose a risk to society
  • Agree to participate in treatment for their illness

The North Carolina judicial system is coming to realize that jail will not solve the opioid epidemic, and that it must be creative with its solutions to this problem. If you are facing criminal charges because of your addiction, one of these diversion programs might be the right path for you.

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An Award-Winning LawyerFirm founder Dustin R.T. Sullivan has been recognized as one of the leading attorneys in North Carolina. His accolades include:

  • Super Lawyer2017 Rising Star in DWI Defense Super Lawyers of North Carolina
  • Superior DUI Attorney 20162016 Superior DUI Attorney ranking for fourth consecutive year by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense
  • Super Lawyer | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Selected In 20172016 Public Service Award for Legal Aid of North Carolina
  • 10 Best 2017 | Attorney | Client Satisfaction 2015 10 Best Client Satisfaction Award by the American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys
  • NAFLA2015 Top 10 Ranking by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys
    • Top Rated On AVVO
    • Review Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Avvo
    • Top Contributor Award 2014 | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Avvo
    • Avvo Rating 10.0 | Dustin R.T. Sullivan | Top Attorney
    • 2014 Top 100 Attorneys in North Carolina by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense
    • nafdd
  • StarNews Media | Finalist for Best Attorney2013 Finalist for Best Attorney in Cape Fear region by Wilmington Star News
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