My colleague Jeff Welty recently wrote about S.L. 2023-123 and changes to our death by drug distribution laws. He mentioned changes to the mandatory drug trafficking fines for certain drugs there, but I wanted to follow up on that point with the details. The new law, with new fines for certain controlled substances, takes effect on December 1, 2023. This post examines the coming changes to drug trafficking fines. Consistent with my defender-focused role, it also explores potential constitutional issues defenders might consider raising in cases where the new fines apply.
The General Assembly last amended our satellite-based monitoring (“SBM”) laws in 2021, substantially reworking who qualifies for SBM, the process of petitioning for termination of SBM, and the potential length of SBM (among other changes). If you are still adjusting to those new rules, buckle up. Tucked into the back of S.L 2023-143 (SB 20) are new amendments that once again substantially revise North Carolina’s SBM scheme (in Part VIII, starting at page 44 of the linked bill), effective for SBM orders entered on or after October 1, 2023. This post examines those changes and their potential implications.
Effective January 1, 2023, the state correctional system was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to its own cabinet-level department, the Department of Adult Correction. S.L. 2021-180, sec. 19C.9. The new department includes prisons and probation; juvenile justice will stay in the Department of Public Safety. After 16 years at the School of Government, I will be taking a leave of absence to work as the Senior Policy Advisor for the new department.
Most crimes on the list of reportable offenses automatically and mandatorily require registration upon conviction. As discussed in an earlier post, however, some crimes require registration only if the sentencing court orders it. After I wrote that post, the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued an opinion on what findings can properly support a trial court’s conclusion that a conviction will require sex offender registration. Today’s post discusses that case, State v. Fuller, 2021-NCSC-20, ___ N.C. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Mar. 12, 2021).
A new case from the Supreme Court of North Carolina gives us a chance to revisit the issue of a defendant’s confrontation rights at a probation violation hearing.
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission released its biennial Correctional Program Evaluation, better known as the Recidivism Report. It is prepared in conjunction with the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, as required by G.S. 164-47. The full report is available here. It covers defendants placed on probation or released from prison in Fiscal Year 2019, and examines their subsequent arrests, convictions, and incarcerations during a two-year follow-up period.
Under G.S. 15A-1347(b), if a defendant waives a probation revocation hearing in district court, he or she may not appeal the revocation or imposition of a split sentence to superior court for a de novo violation hearing. That law was enacted in 2013 as part of legislation designed to streamline the superior court caseload, focusing it on contested cases and those implicating a defendant’s right to a jury trial. S.L. 2013-385. I wrote a post about that law in 2014, here, wondering about some of the then-new law’s wrinkles. The Court of Appeals considered its first case under G.S. 15A-1347(b) last year in State v. Flanagan, 2021-NCCOA-456, 279 N.C. App. 228 (2021).
Last week, Jamie blogged about the 2021 Structured Sentencing Statistical Report from the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. As Jamie noted, that report contains detailed information related to felony and misdemeanor sentences imposed in Fiscal Year 2021, including the most commonly used felony grid cell, the number of convictions by district, average probation length, and typical sentencing outcomes for the most charged offenses. Because that report analyzes felony and misdemeanor convictions and sentences imposed under the Structured Sentencing Act, it does not include information about one of the most commonly charged misdemeanors in North Carolina: driving while impaired, which is sentenced under the sentencing scheme set out in G.S. 20-179. The Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission prepares a separate report each year analyzing those convictions, and the Driving While Impaired Convictions Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2021 is available here. Read on for highlights from the report, which contains data about convictions under G.S. 20-179 from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
Today’s post takes a look at the latest Structured Sentencing Statistical Report from the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission.