What Is a Conditional Discharge?

One of the tactics a skilled Greenville criminal defense lawyer will use to avoid a trial for lesser drug charges is trying to obtain a conditional discharge. This will help you move on with your life, without a criminal conviction on record.

However, you must understand that this way of concluding your case comes with conditions and obligations for you. To give you a clear understanding and realistic expectations, here are the key facts about conditional discharge.

How Does Conditional Discharge Work in South Carolina?

The conditional discharge is a pretrial diversion option to avoid facing a trial and getting a potential conviction. Once successfully completed, all details related to the charges against you will be erased from your criminal record.

This option is available for drug charges involving simple possession of a controlled substance and for disorderly conduct charges.

The types of drugs found in your possession can be:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • LSD and other hallucinogenic substances
  • Ecstasy
  • Meth

You may apply for a conditional discharge only for the first drug charge on your record. Having other criminal charges on your record does not disqualify you – just not for drug crimes.

Finally, it is important to remember that the conditional discharge is a privilege, not a right. The judge, the prosecutor, the law enforcement officer who arrested you and any alleged injured party have an input that will determine whether your request will be granted.

Requirements of the Conditional Discharge

The rules you must follow after obtaining a conditional discharge depend on the court that granted it. In South Carolina, you may submit an application for a conditional discharge to:

first-time drug offenses may be erased from your record

The Magistrate or Municipal Court

This is the lower court, where cases involving smaller potential sentences are tried – less than 30 days in jail. This is a less formal procedure and it also involves fewer rules to follow:

  • You will not be placed under probation, as this type of court does not have the authority to order it
  • You must document community service hours (between 30 and 60 days, depending on the charge)
  • You may or may not be required to undergo counseling for substance abuse
  • You must pay a $150 fee

Once your attorney submits evidence that you completed all these requirements, your case will be dismissed.

The General Sessions Court

This court tries cases involving more severe penalties. If your court is tried at this type of court, you must hire an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer to represent you and try to obtain conditional discharge.

In this situation, the conditions are more severe:

  • You must enter a formal guilty plea
  • You will be placed on probation
  • You must complete community service
  • You will be subject to drug screening
  • You may be ordered to undergo counseling
  • You must pay the $350 fee required by the court

Expungement after Conditional Discharge

Once you successfully completed all the requirements of each court detailed above, you will have the right to petition the court to destroy any documents related to:

  • The arrest
  • The indictment
  • The trial
  • The guilty plea
  • The dismissal
  • The discharge

This means that your criminal record will contain no trace of this specific drug charge.

How Many Times Can You Benefit from the Conditional Discharge?

The conditional discharge is granted only once and only for the first drug-related offense on your record. However, having benefited from it, you are not excluded from other types of pretrial interventions in the future.

A Skilled Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Obtain a Conditional Discharge!

Simple possession of drugs for personal use is a serious crime in South Carolina. But, if you are a first-time offender, you may be able to get a clean record and move on with your life without the stain of a criminal conviction.

However, you will need an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer at Baldwin Law to negotiate a conditional discharge with the prosecution. This is a privilege, not a right, and your lawyer needs to present convincing evidence in your favor.

Contact us as soon as possible after being charged to start building your defense. We offer a free case evaluation to each new client, so call us today: 864-777-4615!

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