Prior Record Level for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon

The court of appeals issued opinions today. I haven’t looked at all of them, but State v. Best jumped out at me because it provides an authoritative answer to a question that I have often been asked: when a defendant is convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, may his prior felony (the … Read more

Stipulations to Questions of Law for Sentencing Purposes

Defendants often stipulate to prior convictions for the purpose of establishing their prior record level. Form AOC-CR-600, the prior record level/prior conviction level worksheet, includes a section (Section III, at the top of Side Two) to note that that stipulation. The court of appeals said in State v. Hussey, __ N.C. App. __ (2008), that … Read more

District Court is in Session . . . But for How Long?

Editor’s note: This post has been revised slightly in response to a helpful comment from a reader. A district court session usually lasts one day, so many court actors have gotten in the habit of thinking that a district court session is a day as a matter of law. Some North Carolina publications refer to … Read more

The New Felony Sentencing Grid

For the first time since 1995 we have a new felony punishment chart for Structured Sentencing. Two pieces of legislation from the past session, S.L. 2009-555 and S.L. 2009-556, made changes that will become effective December 1, 2009 and apply to offenses committed on or after that date. The first law restructures the point ranges … Read more

Juveniles and Prior Record Level

I am occasionally asked about the adult sentencing consequences of a defendant’s juvenile history. The first-order answer is easy: juvenile adjudications never count toward felony prior record level or misdemeanor prior conviction level. This is true of all juvenile adjudications, even those for acts that would be Class A – E felonies if committed by … Read more

Prior Record for Recidivist (and Recidivist-ish) Crimes

I am frequently asked about what convictions may count toward a defendant’s prior record level in prosecutions under the habitual felon law and other similar laws, like habitual impaired driving. For habitual felon prosecutions, the answer is pretty clear—G.S. 14-7.6 says convictions used to establish a person’s status as an habitual felon may not also … Read more