Facing any criminal charge for the first time may be a daunting experience. However, the court often understands that many first-time charges come from making one bad decision. In the case of a drug charge, a judge often understands that there may be an underlying addiction issue. In any case, lawmakers recognize that first-time drug offenders may benefit more from help than from punishment in North Carolina.

According to the North Carolina Drug Education School, people facing drug charges for the first time may qualify for an alternative to conviction program. Set up by the law and ran by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Drug Education School program allows a person to potentially avoid a conviction for a drug crime.

How it works

When a person faces a first-time drug charge, the judge in the case may place the person on probation and order him or her into this alternative to conviction program. The person then must complete the full 5-hour program within 150 days. If he or she does this successfully, then the judge closes the case without a conviction. If a person is under the age of 22, the court may also expunge all records related to the offense.

The curriculum in the program aims to help people learn new habits, make better choices and overcome addictions. In the program, a person may learn how to develop a plan to avoid future drug use and dig into why he or she was using drugs. It also helps people learn how drugs affect their lives and how to break through addiction.

This program gives people the chance to change and overcome a bad situation. A drug charge on a person’s criminal record could cause a variety of consequences, so being able to avoid that can give a person the chance needed to turn his or her life around.