Follow this closely. NC is trying to amend the lengthy mandatory sentences allowed. This is set to be on the Senate’s calendar 10/21/2019.
Summary date: Oct 9 2019 – View summary
Senate committee substitute to the 3rd edition makes the following changes.
Modifies proposed GS 90-95(h)(5a), which requires a judge sentencing a person for a drug trafficking conviction or conspiracy to commit the same to impose the applicable minimum prison term provided by subsection (h). Maintains the sentencing judge’s authority to reduce the fine and sentence consistent with the applicable offense and classification and prior record level provided in specified State law, if the judge enters into the record specified findings; however, adds that the findings cannot be entered until after a hearing and an opportunity for the district attorney to present evidence, including evidence from the investigating law enforcement officer, other law enforcement officers, or witnesses with knowledge of the defendant’s conduct at any time before sentencing. Modifies and adds to the specific findings the sentencing judge must enter into the record to include: the defendant did not use violence or a credible threat of violence, or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon, in the commission of any other violation of law; the defendant has successfully completed a treatment program approved by the Court to address the admitted substance abuse disorder (previously, only required participation or agreement to participate in a program); there is no substantial evidence that the defendant has ever engaged in the sale, manufacture, delivery or transport of a controlled substance or intent to commit the same (previously, substantial evidence does not exist that the defendant was involved in the sale or delivery of a controlled substance during the commission of the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced); the defendant, to the best of his or her knowledge, has provided all reasonable assistance in the identification, arrest, or conviction of any accomplices, accessories, co-conspirators, or principals; the defendant is being sentenced for trafficking, or conspiracy to commit trafficking, for possession of an amount of a controlled substance that is not of a quantity greater than the lowest category for which a defendant can be convicted for trafficking under GS 90-95(h); and the defendant is being sentenced solely for trafficking, or conspiracy to commit trafficking, as a result of possession of a controlled substance. Makes further technical and clarifying changes.
Deletes previous Section 4 (amending GS 15A-1368.2 concerning post-release supervision eligibility).
Makes the following changes to previous Section 5, which allows a person serving an active sentence imposed solely for a violation of GS 90-95(h), or conspiracy to commit a violation under GS 90-95(i), committed before the section becomes effective, to file a motion for appropriate relief for a modification of the person’s sentence. Specifies that a motion for appropriate relief may only be granted if the following conditions are met: (1) the motion is filed within 36 months of the effective date of the act; (2) the person seeking a sentence modification has no other felony conviction under GS 90-95; (3) the person was convicted solely for trafficking, or conspiracy to commit trafficking, as a result of possession of a controlled substance; and (4) the person seeking sentence modification was sentenced for trafficking, or conspiracy to commit trafficking, of a controlled substance that was not of a quantity greater than the lowest category for which a defendant may be convicted for trafficking of that controlled substance under GS 90-95(h).
Amends the study on criminal justice data as follows. Removes the Administrative Office of the Courts from those entities conducting the study. Requires that the study identify criminal justice data elements related to individuals who have been charged with infractions or criminal offenses currently collected and maintained (was, identify the criminal justice data elements currently collected and maintained by jails, courts, and prisons). Amends the study’s purposes. Allows the Department of Information Technology (Department) to also seek input from the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice when conducting the study. Amends the issues to be examined in the study as follows: (1) requires examination of the data elements currently being collected by prisons and jails with regard to individuals who have been charged with or incarcerated for criminal offenses (was, the data element currently being collected by each local and regional detention facility with regard to each individual admitted to jail and each facility’s operation) and adds planned (not just current) systems for collecting, recording, maintaining, and searching data elements; (2) includes systems planned or under development (not just current systems) for collecting, recording, maintaining, and searching data elements with regard to individuals who have been charged with infractions or criminal offenses; (3) requires studying steps to create a statewide program to integrate data from courts, jails, and prison data systems, including options for integrating data currently collected as well as for addressing any data gaps identified, and options for making data elements available to law enforcement, judicial officials, and policymakers in an open electronic format; requires inclusion of the costs and options to fund such a program; and (4) expands and clarifies the requirement to review best practices of other states. Removes the requirements to study the data elements needed for policy makers to understand the criminal justice system; gaps in data elements and where any data elements currently collected are inaccessible or made difficult to assess or study because of certain aspects of data management and entry and actions to address those barriers; and any other related issues that the Department deems necessary. Changes the due date of the study report from March 15, 2020, to December 1, 2020.
Changes the act’s long title.
Summary date: Jul 10 2019 – View summary
Senate committee substitute to the 2nd edition makes the following changes.
Eliminates the proposed changes to GS 90-95(h), regarding sentencing for various drug trafficking offenses. Instead, enacts new subdivision (5a) to require a judge sentencing a person for a drug trafficking conviction or conspiracy to commit the same to impose the applicable minimum prison term provided by subsection (h). Allows the sentencing judge to reduce the fine and sentence consistent with the applicable offense and classification and prior record level provided in specified state law, if the judge enters into the record six specified findings, including that the defendant has not previously been convicted of a felony under GS 90-95, the defendant did not use violence or a credible threat of violence, or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon, in the commission of the offense, and the defendant admits he or she has a substance abuse disorder involving a controlled substance and is currently participating in or has agreed to participate in a treatment program to address the substance abuse disorder. Applies to sentences ordered on or after December 1, 2019.
Amends GS 15A-1368.2, regarding post-release supervision. Enacts new subsection (a1) to deem eligible for early release from prison for post-release supervision for the remainder of a prisoner’s active sentence for a drug trafficking conviction under GS 90-95(h) or (i). Limits eligibility, requiring the Commission to determine that six criteria are met, including that the prisoner has served at least 24 months of the prisoner’s sentence. Effective December 1, 2019, and applies to sentences ordered on or before November 30, 2019.
Makes the uncodified provisions regarding motions for appropriate relief for modifications of sentencing pursuant to the act applicable to sentences ordered on or before November 30, 2019 (rather than December 1, 2019).
Makes conforming changes to the act’s effective date provisions. Changes the act’s long title.
Summary date: Jun 26 2019 – View summary
Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition deletes the content of the previous edition and replaces it with the following.
Refers to amendments as “The North Carolina First Step Act.” Amends GS 90-95(h), concerning drug trafficking, by adding new subdivision (5a) authorizing a judge to reduce fines, impose a sentence lower than the applicable minimum prison term provided by statute, or to suspend a sentence altogether upon finding and stating (1) substantial and compelling reasons for doing so, (2) imposition of the applicable minimum term would (a) result in substantial injustice to the defendant and (b) is not necessary for the protection of the public. Excludes from consideration persons determined by the judge to be an organizer or supervisor in a continuing criminal enterprise. Amends GS 90-95(h)(5) to add reference to new subdivision (5a) and makes one change to add a gender-neutral term.
Amends GS 90-95 to add new subsection (j) requiring the Administrative Office of the Courts to publish annually online a report of the number of sentences modified under GS 90-95(h)(5a) for the prior calendar year, beginning on December 1, 2020.
Allows a person serving an active sentence imposed for a violation of GS 90-95(h) or conspiracy to commit a violation under GS 90-95(i) committed before the act’s effective date to file a motion for appropriate relief for a modification of the person’s sentence. Directs persons currently serving an active sentence solely for a violation of GS 90-95(h) or (i) for drug trafficking or conspiracy to commit drug trafficking may seek a modification of their sentence by filing a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) within 36 months of the act’s effective date. Requires courts to direct the state to respond within 60 days of the date of filing and to hold any necessary hearings within 180 days.
The above provisions are effective December 1, 2019.
Requires the Department of Information Technology (Department), Government Data Analytic Center, and the Administrative Office of the Courts to conduct a statewide study to identify the criminal justice data elements currently collected and maintained by jail, courts, and prisons in order to (1) identify gaps in data and accessibility of data for research purposes and for use by judicial officials and other stakeholders and (2) identify solutions for improving availability and accessibility of data to inform public policy through an integrated tool or other system. Allows the Department to seek input from specified entities and stakeholders. Sets out seven issues that must be examined in the study, including (1) the data elements currently being collected by each local and regional detention facility with regard to each individual admitted to jail and each facility’s operation and the current system for collecting, recording, maintaining, and searching these data elements; (2) the data elements needed for policymakers to understand the criminal justice system, including the demographics, reasons for involvement, and outcomes for individuals involved in the system at the county and statewide levels; and (3) a review of best practices of other states that collect local-level criminal justice data and integrate them with data from the court system and other state systems. Requires a report to the specified NCGA committees by March 15, 2020.
Makes conforming changes to the act’s titles.
Summary date: Mar 28 2019 – View summary
Separates Article 3, National Guard, of GS Chapter 127A into three Parts: General Provisions, Courts-Martial, and National Guard Family Assistance Centers. Places GS 127A-47 through 127A-63 in Part 2, Courts-Martial, making organizational changes. Makes the following additional changes to Part 2.
Amends GS 127A-50.1 to establish qualifications for the State’s trial and defense counsel in courts-martial, including designation as a judge advocate and membership in the National Guard. Provides that the military judge, the State’s trial counsel, and defense counsel in courts-martial are not required to be members of the NC State Bar.
Amends GS 127A-52, providing for the subject matter jurisdiction of courts-martial of the National Guard to be as prescribed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Manual for Courts-Martial, US, as was in use by the US Armed Forces at the time the offense was committed (was, as currently in use). Provides for the personal jurisdiction of the courts-martial to include all members of the NC National Guard at all times and in all places (previously conflated with subject matter jurisdiction provisions, and provided for jurisdiction to try accused persons of offenses committed while serving without the State and while going to and returning from service without the State in like manner and to the same extent as while serving within the State).
Amends GS 127A-56, making clarifying and technical changes. Adds that the State’s trial counsel and defense counsel have the subpoena power granted to military judges and summary court officers in the statute.
Amends GS 127A-59, concerning sentencing by a court-martial, making clarifying and technical changes.
Amends GS 127A-60, eliminating the requirement for the Governor to approve a sentence imposed by a special or general court martial of the National Guard before its execution. Makes conforming changes.
Amends GS 127A-62, now providing that a court-martial’s judgement or order can be appealed to the Wake County Superior Court (was limited to judgment which include a sentence to confinement). Provides that GS 15A-1431(f1), which provides for stays of payment of costs/fines, probation and active punishment pending appeal from magistrate and district court judge, applies to appeals under GS 127A-62 (previously provided for GS 15A-1451 to apply, which concerns stays pending appeal to the appellate division). Provides for an appeal to be made in writing and filed with the Clerk of Superior Court in Wake County within 10 days after the court-martial enters the judgment or order (was within 10 days of the Governor’s approval of the sentence). Requires a copy of the appeal to be filed with the courts-martial and served on the opposing party. Provides for the defendant’s assertion of errors, and no longer provides that all errors are waived if not asserted by the defendant. Adds a new subsection to provide for the State’s assertion of errors on appeal, including the erroneous dismissal of a charge or exclusion of evidence that substantially proves a material fact, so long as double jeopardy does not prohibit further prosecution. Grants the defendant and the State the right to interlocutory appeal, but requires the State’s trial counsel to certify to the court-martial that the appeal is not taken for the purpose to delay and that the evidence is essential to the case. Makes further clarifying and technical changes concerning appeals.
Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019. Provides a savings clause for prosecutions for offenses committed before the effective date of the act.