Following the federal First Step Act which was signed into law in 2018 to change federal sentencing guidelines, North Carolina lawmakers began drafting the North Carolina First Step Act to reduce drug trafficking sentences in specific cases. To learn if this law affects your case or can reduce your sentence, our criminal lawyers in Raleigh are sharing a closer look at the NC First Step Act.
What Is the NC First Step Act
S.L. 2020-47, also called the North Carolina First Step Act is designed to update drug trafficking sentencing laws outlined in the North Carolina General Statute 90-95(h) by adding an addendum. Prior to the addition, judges had to follow strict mandatory sentencing guidelines when a defendant was being sentenced for drug trafficking or conspiracy to commit drug trafficking. Often these mandatory sentences overwhelmingly affect those in marginalized communities and are seen as overly punitive.
With the new law in place, those who are serving a mandatory minimum sentence for drug trafficking can file for a reduced sentence, and judges are given the authority to suspend sentences, reduce fines, and reduce time in prison. However, there are very specific exceptions to who is eligible for this leniency.
Who Is Eligible for Reduced Sentencing Under the First Step Act?
In order to be eligible for a reduced sentence, the judge who is sentencing an existing case or hearing the request for a reduced sentence under the First Steps Act must enter findings that the following standards are met.
- The defendant accepts responsibility for their conduct;
- The defendant has not been convicted of a drug charge as outlind in the General Statute 90-95;
- The defendant did not commit a violent act or possess a weapon during the crime or during any other violation of the law;
- The defendant admints to having a substance abuse disorder and has completed a Court-approved treatment program;
- The mandatory minimum sentence would result in significant injustice;
- The sentence is solely for trafficking or conspiracy to commit trafficking as a result of possession, not manufacturing, transporting, or delivering the controlled substance;
- The defendant provided reasonable assistanct to identify any accomplices or co-conspirators.
Speak with an Attorney to Discuss Drug Trafficking Charges Today
If you are under investigation, have been charged, or seeking a reduced sentence for a drug offense, reach out to our drug trafficking defense attorneys in Raleigh today. For a free consultation, call us at (919) 887-8040 or fill out our contact form below to get started.