Last time, we talked about changes to NC probation laws under the Justice Reinvestment Act. Today, we will discuss how these changes to North Carolina structured sentencing laws affect you.
For starters, felony maximum sentences have been increased and all felons will now receive post-release supervision. This applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011.
ADVANCED SUPERVISED RELEASE
If you are convicted of a class D, E, F, G or H felony, the judge may order you into the new Advanced Supervised Release program when you are released from jail or prison. This applies to defendants entering a plea or being found guilty on or after January 1, 2012.
INTERMEDIATE AND COMMUNITY PUNISHMENTS
The act also redefines the definition of intermediate and community punishments for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011. If you’re sentenced to community or intermediate probation you may be given any of the following conditions (this section applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011):
- electronic house arrest;
- community service;
- jail confinement for 2 to 3 days, for no more than six days per month during any three separate months of a probation period;
- Substance abuse assessment, monitoring, or treatment;
- Participation in an educational or vocational skills development program;
- submission the satellite-based monitoring (if a covered sex offender);
INTENSIVE SUPERVISION ABOLISHED
The act requires that Intensive Supervision, a Residential Program and the Day Reporting Center may no longer be applied to intermediate punishments for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011..
90-96 DEFERMENT REQUIRED
When an eligible defendant pleads guilty to or is found guilty of:
- misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in any schedule or amount;
- possession of drug paraphernalia; or
- felony drug possession of any schedule or amount;
the court is required (with the defendant’s consent) to place the defendant on probation without entering judgment under G. S. 90 – 96 (a). An eligible defendant is any person who has not previously been convicted of any felony, any offense under the Controlled Substance Act, or any state or federal controlled substance or paraphernalia offense. This applies to any person entering a plea or found guilty on or after January 1, 2011.
HABITUAL FELON SENTENCE ENHANCEMENT
A sentence as a habitual felon now carries a four class enhancement. This means that if you are convicted of a Class I felony and found to be a habitual felon to be sentenced under the Class E felony guidelines, a Class H Felon will be sentenced under the Class D felony guidelines and all other felonies will be sentenced under Class C guidelines. This provision applies to principal felonies occurring on or after December 1, 2011.
HABITUAL B&E CREATED
The law also creates a habitual breaking and entering status offense. If you are charged with felony breaking and entering and have one or more prior breaking and entering convictions the DA can choose to charge you as a habitual breaking and entering status offender and if you are convicted you may be sentenced as a class E felon. A second breaking and entering offense only qualifies if committed after conviction of the first offense. The principal breaking and entering offense must occur after the defendant turns 18. The habitual breaking and entering sentence must run consecutively to any sentences being served.
WHERE YOU WILL SERVE YOUR TIME
Finally, the law makes serious changes to the proper place of confinement for defendants convicted of offenses. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor and ordered to serve 90 days or less jail time you will almost certainly have to serve that time in the local jail. If convicted and ordered to serve 91 to 180 days in jail (except for DWI) you will serve your time in the statewide misdemeanor confinement program and your confinement will be determined by the North Carolina Sheriffs Association, meaning you are likely to stay in the local jail. If sentenced to 181 days or more you will be sent to DOC. All felony offenders convicted and ordered to serve active sentences will be sentenced to DOC custody. This applies to sentences imposed on or after January 1, 2012.
If you have questions, or would like to consult with an experienced attorney about your criminal legal matter, contact us for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.