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Criminal record, sentence changes among new N. Carolina laws

Added 12-01-20 02:03:02am EST - “New laws began Tuesday in North Carolina that are designed to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get records cleared or punishments eased.” - Washingtontimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Washingtontimes.com: “Criminal record, sentence changes among new N. Carolina laws”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - New laws began Tuesday in North Carolina that are designed to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get records cleared or punishments eased.

The “ Second Chance Act ” and “ First Step Act ” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Dec. 1. These criminal justice reforms received renewed interest this year following demonstrations against racial inequality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated long prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met. A defendant in part has to have avoided violent activity, isn’t a repeat offender and must admit to a drug addiction problem. Supporters say the change will help people with substance-abuse issues avoid long sentences when treatment is what they need. Drug trafficking offenders sentenced before Tuesday now can also ask a judge to ease punishment retroactively.

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The Second Chance Act expands the ability of people to get criminal records cleared of lower-level criminal convictions, dismissed charges and “not guilty” verdicts. These and other expunction laws are designed to remove what are deemed as youthful indiscretions that show up in background checks for employment and housing.

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