ASR In North Carolina
After conviction for a felony criminal offense in North Carolina, a judge will determine your appropriate sentence based on the circumstances of the crime, any prior criminal history and other mitigating or aggravating factors. If you are sentenced to prison, a sentencing range will be given by the judge that includes both a minimum number of months that must be spent in prison as well as a maximum number of months.
Generally, you will be required to serve at least 100 percent of your minimum sentence; however, there is at least one exception to this rule: Advanced Supervised Release (ASR).
What Is Advanced Supervised Release?
Advanced Supervised Release allows an individual to get out of prison before serving his or her minimum sentence and to begin the Post-Release Supervision period.
During the sentencing phase of the North Carolina criminal process, the judge may set an advanced release date for an eligible defendant. The ASR date is the minimum sentence that an individual could have received for his or her crime based on his or her own prior criminal history. If the actual sentence was already in the mitigated range, according to the felony sentencing grid, the ASR date will be set at 80 percent of the minimum sentence.
The ASR date must be set by the judge during sentencing; the Department of Corrections does not have the authority to pick and choose who may be released early from prison under this law. The judge cannot set an ASR date if the prosecutor in your case objects; this is important to note as an objection means that you will not be eligible for early release from prison under this program. Your criminal defense attorney can answer any questions about this and may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf to ensure that he or she does not object to early release from prison to supervision in your case.
Who Is Eligible For ASR?
Advanced Supervised Release applies to individuals found guilty of a crime by a judge or jury or who plead guilty. An individual must be sentenced to prison to be eligible for ASR; if you were initially sentenced to probation but that probation was revoked, you will not be eligible for ASR.
In addition, not everyone who is sentenced to prison will be eligible for the early-release program. Eligibility for the early-release program depends on the felony class level of the offense for which you have been sentenced to an active prison term along with your prior criminal history.
The following is a brief summary of who may be eligible for ASR by felony level and prior record level:
- Class D (example: armed robbery), Prior Record Level I-III
- Class E (example: assault with a deadly weapon with intent), Prior Record Level I-IV
- Class F (example: involuntary manslaughter), Prior Record Level I-V
- Class G (example: robbery), Prior Record Level I-VI
- Class H (example: forgery), Prior Record Level I-VI
This leaves several felony convictions ineligible for Advanced Supervised Release. An individual convicted of offenses subject to mandatory minimum sentences, such as drug trafficking, may also not be eligible for ASR.
Is Release To ASR Automatic?
If an ASR date was set by the judge during sentencing, that does not mean that, regardless of what happens while you are serving your sentence, you will be released to supervision on your ASR date. The Department of Corrections is empowered to create "milestones" for an individual before he or she can be released early to supervision; these are called risk-reduction incentives.
Risk reduction incentives are intended to improve the likelihood that an individual granted ARS will not reoffend and end up back in prison. The incentives can include:
- Treatment programs, such as substance abuse treatment
- Education programs, including GED programs, vocational training or college-level coursework
- Rehabilitative programs
You must complete your risk-reduction program before being allowed out of prison early on your ASR date. If you were unable to complete the program requirements before your early-release date through no fault of your own, you may still be eligible to get out of prison early. An example of not being able to complete required incentives through no fault of your own is when an individual has accumulated pre-trial credit for time served that extends beyond the ASR date - this person could be release immediately to ASR despite having not completed any risk reduction incentive programs.
Not everyone is eligible for advanced supervised release and not everyone who is otherwise eligible will be allowed to get out of prison early if the judge is not requested to set an ASR date at sentencing. Anyone facing the North Carolina criminal justice system should talk to an experienced defense lawyer about his or her options.
This informational article is provided by the attorneys of Roberts Law Group, PLLC, a criminal defense law firm dedicated to the rights of those accused of a crime throughout North Carolina. To learn more about the firm, please visit our family of criminal defense websites. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Google+ to get the latest updates on safety and criminal defense matters in North Carolina.
North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.