Prior Record Level for Habitual and Repeat Offender Sentencing

In North Carolina we have a fair number of habitual and repeat offender punishment provisions—laws that increase a defendant’s punishment because of crimes he or she has committed in the past. Today’s post considers how the prior convictions needed to establish those enhancements factor into the defendant’s prior conviction level.

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Counting Joined Offenses for Prior Record Points

Before Structured Sentencing we had Fair Sentencing. Under Fair Sentencing, there was no such thing as “prior record level,” but a prior conviction could qualify as an aggravating factor, exposing a person to a longer sentence. G.S. 15A-1340.4(a)(1)(o) (1988). However, the law included an exception for any crime joinable with the crime for which the … Read more

Court of Appeals Rules on Prior Convictions from New Jersey

Last month, the court of appeals decided State v. Hogan, __ N.C. App. __, 758 S.E.2d 465 (2014), a case about the use of a defendant’s prior convictions from New Jersey in determining the defendant’s prior record level. It’s an interesting case and one that has implications for the use of such convictions in the … Read more

Consideration of Juvenile Information at Sentencing

A defendant’s prior North Carolina juvenile adjudications never count for sentencing points. That is true for felonies and misdemeanors alike. The definition of a “prior conviction” in Structured Sentencing (G.S. 15A-1340.11(7)) includes only a previous “conviction” for a “crime.” By law in North Carolina, a juvenile adjudication is not a conviction at all, and so … Read more

Prior Record Points for Out-of-State Convictions

Improper counting of a defendant’s prior out-of-state convictions is a common sentencing error. This post collects the law on the subject, including the many appellate cases decided over the past decade or so. I’ll admit, it’s the Atacama Desert of blog posts: long and dry. But the issue comes up often enough—and can have significant … Read more

Do Old DWIs Count toward Felony Prior Record Level?

Author’s note: This post has been updated since its initial publication. The original version overlooked G.S. 15A-1340.11(7), a statute that is clearly relevant to the discussion. Do old (as in, pre-1997) impaired driving convictions count toward felony prior record level? My answer is that they probably do—at least back to 1983—but there is no clear … Read more

Who Proves Prior Record?

Who proves prior convictions for sentencing purposes? By statute, the State. Sometimes, however, in the fast-paced world of district court, marshaling a defendant’s criminal record can seem like a shared responsibility, with the prosecutor, judge, and clerk all playing a role. Especially today, when more statewide information is available at a mouse click through CJLEADS … Read more

The Under Supervision Bonus Point for Sentencing

Yesterday’s post was about the prior record point that applies when all the elements of the offense being sentenced are included in one of the defendant’s prior offenses. Today’s post is about the other sentencing bonus point, which applies when the offense being sentenced was committed while the defendant was on probation, parole, or post-release … Read more

The Same Elements Bonus Point for Sentencing

In addition to the regular sentencing points assigned to a defendant based on his or her prior convictions, there are two additional “bonus points” that apply in certain circumstances. One is for defendants being sentenced for crimes committed while they were probation, parole, or post-release supervision; serving a sentence of imprisonment; or on escape. G.S. … Read more

Substantial Similarity of Prior Convictions from Other Jurisdictions

Under G.S. 15A-1340.14(e), a defendant’s prior out-of-state convictions count by default as Class I felonies if the other jurisdiction classifies them as a felony, or as Class 3 misdemeanors if the other jurisdiction classifies them as a misdemeanor. The State or the defendant may, however, attempt to depart from those default classifications through a preponderance-of-the-evidence … Read more