As the struggle to contain the COVID-19 crisis grinds on, including concerns about the possible spread of the virus in jails and prisons, there has been a renewed interest in finding alternatives to sentences that involve extended periods of incarceration. It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that Jamie Markham has written about such alternatives many times over the years. But in light of the current health situation, I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit some of those topics, collect them together in one post, and try to expand on a few of the suggestions and options.
I should also acknowledge that this post was prompted, at least in part, by the fact that I only recently learned about an unusual type of sentence known as the “Holbrook Holiday.”
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission released last November a report recommending several changes to the state’s impaired driving laws and correctional policies. The report marked the culmination of more than three years of study that included examination of DWI sentencing and correctional data as well as consideration of input from law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and providers of substance abuse treatment. The report’s fifteen recommendations address issues ranging from pretrial conditions of release for defendants charged with impaired driving to the place of confinement for defendants serving active sentences.
Recently, I was teaching a class about the habitual felon laws when a participant asked a question that I had never considered. We know that a defendant convicted of drug trafficking may be convicted as a habitual felon, and when that happens, the defendant’s term of imprisonment is determined under Structured Sentencing based on the elevated offense class set forth in the habitual felon statutes, not based on the mandatory term of imprisonment set forth in the trafficking statute. But what about the mandatory minimum fine listed in the trafficking statute? Must that be imposed, or is the defendant “habitualized out” of all the sentencing-related provisions of the trafficking laws? Apparently, this issue comes up regularly in practice. Continue reading →
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission has just published its annual Structured Sentencing Statistical Report for Felonies and Misdemeanors. Today’s post covers some highlights from the report. Continue reading →
In a previous post I wrote about State v. McNeil, a case that resolved the question of how to count prior convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, in light of that crime’s 2014 division into Class 1 (non-marijuana) and Class 3 (marijuana) offenses. Today’s post is about prior convictions for second-degree murder—split into Class B1 and Class B2 varieties in 2012—in light of State v. Arrington, a case recently decided by the supreme court. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, the students and I spent the afternoon at Central Criminal Court in London, formerly called the Old Bailey and located at the intersection of Old Bailey and Newgate streets in the heart of London’s law district. I can guarantee that this post will not be as captivating as Rumpole of the Bailey, the British television series about fictional barrister Horace Rumpole. But, like most trips to court, it was certainly interesting. Continue reading →