“Revoking” Deferral Probation

Do the Justice Reinvestment Act’s limitations on a judge’s authority to revoke probation apply in deferred prosecution and conditional discharge cases? Defendants can be placed on probation as part of a deferred prosecution or conditional discharge. The statutes governing that probation don’t spell out every detail of what it looks like. Instead, they typically incorporate … Read more

Revoked, but Still on Probation?

I was surprised by one of the provisions included in the omnibus criminal law bill, S.L. 2015-247, that Jeff summarized yesterday. The act amended G.S. 15A-1347 to say that when a defendant whose probation is revoked in district or superior court appeals that revocation, “probation supervision will continue under the same conditions until the termination date of the supervision period or disposition of the appeal, whichever comes first.” The change was effective immediately when the governor signed it on September 23, and people are already asking what it means. Here are my thoughts.

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The Right to Be Present at Sentencing

A North Carolina defendant has a common law right to be personally present when a criminal sentence is pronounced. That right is separate from the constitutional right to be present at trial, State v. Pope, 257 N.C. 326 (1962), and a waiver of the sentencing right should not be inferred from the defendant’s absence at trial. When a defendant is tried and found guilty in absentia (because he or she fled in the middle of the trial, or perhaps behaved in a disorderly fashion), we generally recommend that prayer for judgment be continued until the defendant can be brought before the court for sentencing. See Jessica Smith, N.C. Superior Court Judges’ Benchbook: Trial in the Defendant’s Absence. In one case the court of appeals held that a trial judge did not err by proceeding to sentence a defendant after he fled the courthouse, primarily because his lawyer remained and did not ask for a continuance. State v. Miller, 142 N.C.App. 435 (2011). But in light of earlier cases, the better practice is to wait. See, e.g., State v. Stockton, 13 N.C. App. 287 (1971) (citing several supreme court cases deeming sentences entered in a defendant’s absence to be defective).

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No Revocation Solely for Conviction of a Class 3 Misdemeanor

When I talk about the “commit no criminal offense” probation condition, it’s almost always about one particular issue. May a pending charge (or even uncharged conduct) be considered as a violation of that condition? Or must there be a conviction for that offense before it may be considered? I talk about that issue at length … Read more

The Absconding Donut Hole

In 2012, a person on supervised probation for an offense that occurred before December 1, 2011 moves to another state without permission. Months later he is arrested there and brought back to North Carolina for a violation hearing. May he be revoked for absconding? I don’t think so. This post discusses why. Effective for offenses … Read more

FAQs About CRV

Under amended G.S. 15A-1344(a), for probation violations occurring on or after December 1, 2011, a court may only revoke probation for a violation of the “commit no criminal offense” condition or for violations of the new statutory absconding condition set out in G.S. 15A-1343(b)(3a). For all other probation violations occurring on or after that date, … Read more

Confrontation at Probation Violation Hearings

Under G.S. 15A-1345(e), a probationer is entitled at a probation violation hearing to “confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses unless the court finds good cause for not allowing confrontation.” What does that statute mean by confrontation? The statute’s language comes directly from a 1973 case called Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973), in which the … Read more

Class H and I Felonies in District Court

Under G.S. 7A-272(c), the district court has jurisdiction to accept a defendant’s plea of guilty or no contest to a Class H or I felony in certain circumstances. The law extending this limited jurisdiction to the district court came into effect in 1996 (S.L. 1995-725), and it has been used more and more over time. … Read more

Revocation-Proof Convictions

According to data from the Division of Community Corrections, 1270 probationers had their probation revoked in December 2010. Of those, 232 revocations were based on new crimes. I’ve written before about some of the issues associated with new criminal charges as a violation of probation, a post you can read here. To sum that post … Read more

The Exclusionary Rule and Probation Hearings

North Carolina’s appellate courts have long said that a proceeding to revoke probation is not a criminal prosecution or a formal trial. Instead, probation hearings are generally regarded as informal or summary. State v. Hewett, 270 N.C. 348 (1967). Formal rules of evidence do not apply at violation hearings, meaning hearsay is generally admissible. G.S. … Read more