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Misdemeanor Diversion Program

Cumberland County, with the support and approval of the Board of Commissioners, operates a Misdemeanor Diversion Program (MDP) for 16- and 17-year-olds who have no adult criminal record.

North Carolina is one of only two states that prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds charged with criminal offenses in the adult system. Even when charges are dismissed, if the arrest and court records are not expunged, the incident and youth’s record of arrest follows him or her into adulthood, creating significant impediments to employment and education. The direct and indirect (or collateral) consequences of an arrest in the adult legal system can also have an impact on public benefits, housing, licenses and legal residency status.

The purpose of the MDP is to divert first-time arrests or citations for eligible misdemeanor charges. Rather than issuing a citation or making an arrest where probable cause exists, law enforcement officers in Cumberland County instead issue a referral that initiates the diversionary process by directing the youth to contact the MDP representative in the Pretrial Services Office.

The law enforcement officer simultaneously completes an Incident Report and an MDP Referral Form to forward to his or her agency’s MDP Law Enforcement Liaison. After the liaison confirms that the youth is eligible for MDP, the liaison will then submit the information to the MDP representative, who will meet with the youth and prepare a diversion plan and require the youth to attend a mandatory court session.

Diversion plans include programming tailored for the individual youth, such as community service hours, leadership classes, mentoring and restorative justice opportunities. After a period of no more than 90 days, the MDP Coordinator will determine if there has been successful compliance with the diversion plan terms. If there is compliance, no charges will be filed. If there has not been compliance, the MDP Coordinator will notify the Law Enforcement Liaison so that the filing of formal charges can be considered.


  • 16 or 17 years old at time of offense
  • No adult criminal record (can have a juvenile record)
  • Must be a misdemeanor offense. However, sex offenses, firearms offenses and traffic offenses are specifically excluded
  • Final discretion on MDP referral remains with law enforcement officers and the District Attorney’s Office
  • Restitution, if required, must be resolved outside the MDP process

For more information, please contact the MDP representative at mdp@co.cumberland.nc.us or 910-437-1884.

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Cumberland County, NC.
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County Courthouse
117 Dick Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301