Bill Summary for H 511 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Oct 9 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 511 (Public) Filed Thursday, March 28, 2019
AN ACT TO INCREASE JUDICIAL DISCRETION IN SENTENCING FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING OFFENSES.
Intro. by Grange, Szoka, Goodwin.

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Bill 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.

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