Sentencing in North Carolina can be confusing for attorneys, let alone defendants. While we strive to do everything we can to prevent our clients from being found guilty, at The Dummit Law Firm we are also diligent in taking time to understand the ramifications of sentencing, and explaining that to our clients.
As part of that duty, we keep our fingers on the pulse of the North Carolina Legislature. The Justice Reinvestment Act, passed in 2011, created a new program called Advanced Supervised Release, or “ASR.” The program seeks to provide incentives for people to complete programs that would reduce the likelihood of that person reoffending once they are released. Importantly, this program can reduce the actual time defendants spend in prison, and can even reduce that time below their “minimum sentence.”
Who is eligible for ASR?
Eligible defendants are those defendants who enter a plea of guilty or are found guilty of most crimes on or after January 1, 2012. Additionally, only certain classes of felonies and prior record levels qualify. For instance, a defendant is eligible for the program if he or she is found guilty of a Class D felony, but only if his or her prior record level is between I-III, while all those found guilty of a Class H felony, regardless of prior record level, is eligible for the program.
Below is a North Carolina Felony Sentencing Chart. The shaded areas represent those offense classes and prior record levels that are eligible for Advanced Supervised Release.
How much time do I have to do if I qualify for the ASR program?
This will depend on your charge, prior record, and sentence. The general rule, though, is that your release date, or ASR date, is the shortest mitigated sentence, or, if you already received a sentence in the mitigated range, 80% of your minimum sentence.
For example, if you are convicted of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture, Sell or Deliver, a Class G felony, have a prior record level III, and are sentenced to the presumptive range of 13-17 months, your sentence can be reduced to the shortest mitigated sentence of nine months. Under the same example, if you were already sentenced in the mitigated range, say 10-13 months, your sentence would be reduced to 80% of the minimum sentence, or eight months.
What does ASR entail?
The Advanced Supervised Release Program mandates that inmates in the program attend “risk reduction incentive” programs to be determined by the Department of Corrections. Typically, these are classes you take while in custody. Additionally, your ASR early termination date may be terminated if you are terminated from the program.
How do I get ASR?
Typically, you must ask the judge to enter you into the ASR program at the time your sentence is imposed. That is why it is very important to have a good criminal defense attorney to assist you.