If you have been charged with a crime in Mars Hill, North Carolina, one of the options for handling your case is to apply for Deferred Prosecution.  Regardless of whether you have been charged by a Highway Patrolman, a Mars Hill Police Officer, the Mars Hill Campus Police, or a Madison County Sheriff, as long as you do not have prior convictions (other than traffic tickets) on your record and have not previously entered a deferred prosecution arrangement, you can apply for deferred prosecution.

Charges that are typically allowed by the Madison County District Attorney to be handled by a deferred prosecution agreement are: misdemeanor larceny, shoplifting, injury to property, possession of drug paraphernalia (PDP), misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (including possession of marijuana), and possession or consumption of alcohol underage (underage drinking).

Successful completion of a deferred prosecution agreement would result in the Madison County District Attorney taking a voluntary dismissal on your case and put you in the position to have the charge permanently removed from your record.

The steps to voluntary dismissal by such an agreement would include:

1) Speaking the District Attorney regarding your eligibility to go through Deferred Prosecution. Your approval for deferred prosecution will depend on: prior criminal involvement, the type of charges you are facing, and your ability to complete the terms of the deferral. Having an attorney speak with the DA on your behalf can be extremely beneficial in getting approved for deferred prosecution.

2) Enter a written Agreement to Defer Prosecution with the district attorney. There is a lot of room for negotiating with a deferred prosecution agreement. The term of the deferral (typically 3-6 months), whether the deferral period will be supervised (require you to report to a probation officer) or unsupervised, the amount of community service hours (if any), and the amount of restitution to be paid can vary greatly in each particular case.  Having an attorney on your side during this negotiation can be helpful, particularly in making sure that the terms of the agreement are clear and you understand what is expected of you.

3) Complete all requirements per the agreement (ex. community service, obtaining a drug assessment and completing treatment, paying all necessary fees/fines/costs, etc.).

4) Do not pick up new charges during the period of deferment.

If you follows these steps successfully, you case will be dismissed by the District Attorney at the end of the period of deferment. You may or may not need to appear in court to review your deferment in front of a judge to effectuate this dismissal. Once your case has been dismissed you may be eligible to file a petition for expungement, which is a method of having the charge permanently removed from your criminal record.  It is recommended that you discuss with a lawyer your eligibility for expungement and whether filing an expungement makes sense, as expungements are typically only granted one time in North Carolina. To insure your expungement is submitted properly it is wise to have a legal representative help you prepare and file the petition for expungement.

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