In what is easily the largest set of sweeping changes to Structured Sentencing in NC since it was implemented in 1994, the legislature last year passed the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2011.
In this two part series, we will discuss what impact this new piece of legislation will have on you and your case. We will first discuss the Act’s impact on probation violation cases. Next time, we will see what impact the Act has on sentencing in your case.
The following changes to probation took effect as of December 1, 2011:
1. All future probationary sentences will include an absconding condition. The law requires that all future probationary sentences will provide that the probationer not abscond. This one is not a big change, as absconding violations have been universally enforced for some time.
2. There are new limits on a judge’s authority to revoke probation. Under the new law, a judge can only revoke your probation (activate your sentence) if you commit a new crime while on probation or you abscond. For other violations the court is limited to imposing a split sentence or it can sentence you to a new 90 day active sentence (or up to 90 days for misdemeanor violations). Now, the court can’t revoke your probation and activate your sentence for non-new crimes or non-absconding violations until you have previously been sentenced to two 90 day violation sentences.
3. Intensive Probation no longer exists. The new law abolishes intensive supervision as it accounts for over half of all intermediate punishments.
4. Probation officers can now impose brief stints of jail time without a court order. Your probation officer can now change the terms of your probation and include 2-3 day sentences if you waive your right to a hearing and to counsel.
So what does this mean? In essence, if you receive a probation violation for something other than absconding or committing a new crime, your chances of having your probation revoked and your sentence activated have been reduced substantially.
You can also read more about the reaction to the new law from prosecutors, defense attorneys and politicians here.
As always, if you need further assistance or would like to discuss your case with an attorney, please Contact Us to schedule a free consultation.