New NC Laws: Deferrals for misdemeanors/ Class H or I felonies and reduced penalty for marijuana paraphernalia

1) Misdemeanor and Felony Deferrals- Amended G.S. 15A-1341 (probation), effective December 1, 2014, provides that when a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of a Class H or I felony or a misdemeanor, the court may, on the joint motion of the defendant and the prosecutor, defer further proceedings for the possibility of conditional discharge. The court must make certain findings (defendant has not been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, not previously placed on probation, etc.) without entering a judgment of guilt and place the defendant on probation to allow the defendant to demonstrate good conduct. Another conditional discharge provision provides that when a defendant is eligible for the drug treatment court program, a court may, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the defendant’s consent, defer proceedings and place the defendant on probation to allow participation in and completion of the drug treatment court program.On fulfillment of the terms and conditions of a conditional discharge, a plea or finding of guilt previously entered must be withdrawn and the court must discharge the defendant and dismiss the proceedings. However, if there is a violation of a term or condition of conditional discharge, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided.
2) Reduced punishment if defendant possesses marijuana paraphernalia. New G.S. 90-113.22A
creates the Class 3 misdemeanor of possession of marijuana paraphernalia, and marijuana is removed from the current Class 1 misdemeanor of possession of drug paraphernalia in G.S. 90-113.22. Also, the new Class 3 misdemeanor is made a lesser-included offense of the Class 1 misdemeanor. These changes are effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2014.
S.L. 2014-119 (H 369)