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

Time Served

Which of the following defendants may be sentenced to “time served” (choose all that apply)? A. A felony defendant with 5 months of jail credit sentenced to 6–17 months. B. A felony defendant with 7 months of jail credit sentenced to 6–17 months. C. A felony defendant with 9 months of jail credit sentenced to … Read more

Misdemeanor Reclassification, the Right to Counsel, and the Budget

The legislature has agreed on a budget, and it contains some provisions that will impact misdemeanor sentencing and the appointment of counsel — potentially in tens of thousands of cases each year. Status of the budget. The current budget bill is S 402. It is available here. The accompanying “money report,” which provides narrative explanations … 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

Offense Date Ranges: Which Sentencing Law Applies?

North Carolina’s structured sentencing grid did not change from 1995 to 2009. Since then it has changed twice, once for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2009 (discussed here), and again (under the Justice Reinvestment Act) for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011. With that recent history in mind, an important first … Read more


No Relief from Fair Sentencing

In a post here Jamie discussed whether a defendant who was sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) can successfully bring a motion for appropriate relief asserting that he or she is entitled to “retroactive” application of the provisions of Structured Sentencing Law (SSL). Jamie posited—correctly as it turns out—that the answer to this question … Read more

Changes to Post-Release Supervision for Sex Offenders

I mentioned in my previous post that the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) is not the only new legislation that impacts post-release supervision (PRS). This post looks at S.L. 2011-307, which changes the way PRS applies to sex offenders. (I also mentioned that I would talk about post-release supervision for certain impaired drivers under Laura’s Law, … 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

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