It has been a little over a year since we announced the availability of the School of Government’s mobile app for Structured Sentencing. The app has been downloaded over one thousand times, and feedback is generally positive. Some upgrades and improvements are underway. Continue reading
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The School of Government’s mobile app for Structured Sentencing is available for download. The version for Apple devices—iPhone and iPad—is in the iTunes App Store, linked here. (You’ll need at least an iPhone 4, running iOS7.) The Android version is in the Google Play store, here. Both versions are free.
The app will help you prepare a lawful sentence for any felony or misdemeanor sentenced under Structured Sentencing and for drug trafficking. For all types of sentences, an important first step in the process is to enter the offense date of the crime being sentenced. With that information in place, the app will automatically apply the law as it existed at the time of offense—including the proper sentencing grid, available sentencing enhancements, and statutory probation conditions, among other things. It’s accurate back to October 1, 1994.
The app can store multiple sentences at once, allowing you to work up sentences for all of a defendant’s charges, or perhaps different sentencing options for the same charge (e.g., habitual/non-habitual; active/probationary; etc.), which could be useful for brainstorming, in plea negotiations, or when advising a client.
Here are some additional features.
The app will help you avoid some common sentencing errors. If your split sentence is too long (or your probation period too long, or your fine too big), a pop-up will warn you about it.
There is a searchable chart of all North Carolina crimes, sorted by offense class.
There is a prior record level calculator.
Every screen in the app has an associated help screen that addresses legal issues and frequently asked questions germane to that step in the sentencing process. For example, the help screen for prior record level collects statutes and case law on which things count for points and which do not.
When legally appropriate, the app will prompt you for sentencing options such as extraordinary mitigation, advanced supervised release, substantial assistance, and the firearm/deadly weapon sentence enhancement. The app will calculate the enhanced or mitigated sentence, such as the ASR date, for you.
The app prepares a detailed report on each sentence that is exportable to email.
Steve Winsett of Mainprocessor, LLC, in Greensboro programmed the app. Steve is a visionary who cares a lot about how the court system does its work. Christopher Tyner and Cindy Lee helped me edit and check the app’s content. Robby Poore designed some of the app artwork.
The app was created with generous funding from the C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities, a UNC–Chapel Hill award promoting innovative scholarship that positively impacts constituencies outside the university. I am grateful to the Harvey family for their support of the university, and for recognizing the importance of accuracy in the work that readers of this blog do each day.
The sentencing app is the latest addition to the School’s family of apps. Just as he led us into blogging, Jeff led us into the world of apps with his mobile search and seizure guide, ASSET (for Apple and Android). In general, I find that it’s a good strategy in life to watch what Jeff Welty does and try my best to do it too.
I hope you’ll download the app and take a look. We’re already working on some additional functionality for future releases, so I welcome thoughts about how it could be improved to help you with your work.
In Jeff’s recent announcement of the new version of the ASSET smartphone app, he mentioned that we would release another app soon. I’m pleased to report that our second app, a handheld guide to sentencing and corrections after Justice Reinvestment, is available now. It was created primarily as a field reference for probation officers, but I think others will also find it useful. The app is available here in the Google Play store.
The app is available only for Android devices. That is because it was funded through a grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and all probation officers use state-issued Android phones. Thank you to NCDPS, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Council of State Governments for their support. Of course, if anyone is interested in funding a version for iPhone, let me know!
True to the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the app’s user interface is virtually identical to ASSET—it is searchable, bookmark-able, and virtually all of the content is available for offline viewing. The substantive content was largely derived from my book on the Justice Reinvestment Act, but also goes beyond the book by including a section with searchable answers to over 60 frequently asked questions on the law. Those without an Android device who would like to review the FAQs may do so here. Thank you to attorney Christopher Tyner for his help working on that list and other aspects of the app.
I hope you’ll take a look at the app and let us know what you think—especially through ratings in the Google Play store itself. We’re still in the early stages of our experimentation with apps and want to learn more about how they fit with your work.
Last year, I announced the debut of “the School of Government’s first smartphone app, a guide to the law of search and seizure called ASSET.” Over 4,000 people installed the app, and reviews termed it a “great resource” and “very useful.”
New version. We have just finished a new version of the app. The new edition:
- Updates the app to include recent developments in the law, such as Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. __ (2013), the Supreme Court’s dog sniff case.
- Includes more case citations throughout.
- Significantly expands treatment of issues surrounding probation, parole, and post-release supervision.
For iPhone. The updated iPhone version is now available in the Apple App Store. Hopefully, current users have been prompted to upgrade. If not, you should be able to install the new version through the App Store. New users are welcome, too, of course!
And now, for Android. For the first time, we also have an Android version, which is available here in the Google Play store. We’ve had many, many requests for an Android version so we are thrilled to roll it out.
Still free, thanks to partners. The app remains completely free of charge. Several partners helped make this possible, especially the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. Also partners, but in a different way, are my colleagues here at the School of Government who helped me with the content.
Feedback and reviews. As always, we value your feedback and suggestions about the app. If you like ASSET and find it useful, please take a moment to review it in the app store. In the interest of not being annoying, we didn’t include a pop-up prompt of the kind so common in the app world. (“Would you like to give this app a five star review?”) But in order for the app to attract additional users and in order to justify continued updating and expansion of the app, we still need app store ratings and reviews.
Teaser. Finally, be on the lookout for another mobile app to be announced soon on this blog. Stay tuned!
If you have an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod touch, you can now download the School of Government’s first smartphone app, a guide to the law of search and seizure called ASSET. (That’s an acronym for Arrest, Search, and Seizure Electronic Tool, but obviously we also hope that the app will be an asset to its users.) Enter the App Store and search for “NC ASSET.” It should be the only result. Here are a few things to know about the app:
- It’s free. It isn’t just a free trial, or a free version that encourages you to buy a more robust version later. It’s just free.
- It’s designed for officers. That doesn’t mean that lawyers, judges, and others can’t use it or won’t like it. But it isn’t massively detailed and packed full of citations. It is meant as a field reference for officers who aren’t toting around their copy of Arrest, Search, and Investigation in North Carolina.
- I wrote the content. I had a lot of help with this app, both legal and technical, but the final responsibility for the content is mine. Any complaints should be directed to me. I’m also willing to accept compliments, which I will share with the other members of the ASSET team.
- It isn’t optimized for iPad. We had a limited budget for this project, so it’s professionally produced and looks great, but it is really an iPhone and iPod touch app that you can view on an iPad, too. Veteran iPad users know the drill, but you’ll have to choose between looking at a sharp, iPhone-sized image in the middle of your screen, or a larger, blurrier image produced by pixel doubling.
- There’s no Android version. At least not yet. In the poll we took a while back, most smartphone-equipped officers said they had iPhones, so we built for that platform first. If the app’s a success and there’s strong demand for an Android version, we may try to build one. We’ll have to figure out how to pay for that.
- We would like your feedback. You can provide it on the blog, through the app store, or directly to me by email. We’re interested in your thoughts about the look and feel of the app, how the app is organized, features and functions, and the level of detail. Because this is our first app, we’d really like to know what we got right and where we can improve.
You can read more about the app, and see screen shots, in the App Store. The “splash page” for the app appears below to give you a taste of it. I’m pretty excited about this new vehicle for disseminating legal information. Hope you like it, too.