Happy Justice Reinvestment Day

It’s December 1, and a lot of new laws (the News & Observer counts 35) come into effect today. Among them is the Justice Reinvestment Act—or at least portions of it. To help with the transition, I’ve created a Justice Reinvestment resource page that includes links to “cheat sheets” summarizing the law (including relevant effective date provisions); every blog post I’ve written about the act; a free two-hour webinar; and the legislation itself.

My phone has been ringing off the hook this morning with everyone asking more or less the same thing: What do I have to do differently in court today? Barring something unusual I don’t think anything needs to change right away. The changes to the felony sentencing grid itself are effective for offenses committed on or after today, so it will take at least a little bit of time for them to show up in court. The misdemeanor grid is unchanged.

The first change that I expect to really hit the courtroom is the change to courts’ authority to revoke probation for certain types of violations (discussed here). That change is effective for “probation violations occurring” on or after December 1, 2011, which I interpret to mean offending behavior occurring on or after today (not violation hearings held, or violation reports filed, but rather actual violations occurring on or after today). So, even that change will have a little bit of a lag, and violations committed before today should be handled under existing law.

The one thing that kicks in right away (but doesn’t really affect anything anyone needs to do in court) is that people placed on probation today or later are not subject to the tolling law. G.S. 15A-1344(g) is repealed, effective for people placed on probation on or after December 1. S.L. 2011-412.