Thursday, January 3, 2013

Falsely Imprisoned

On gun charges.

Seems they got a problem figuring out what a crime is in North Caroline (maybe elsewhere?) and wrongly charged and imprisoned almost 200 people.

It sounds like they were charging petty criminals that didn't commit a big enough crime for gun possession when they weren't actually prohitted persons.  For instance, a shoplisting crime when you were 18 and stupid and paid a fine and could have done up to a month in prison does not prevent you from getting a gun when you are 35 and a solid citizen.  But that's me guessing

Now these 200 probably ain't choirboys.  But they also don't belong in prison convicted of a crime they didn't commit.

[UPDATE:  Further information from Sean in the comments]

1 comment:

Sean D Sorrentino said...

This is actually pretty simple. What happened is that these people were previously convicted of Felony crimes in North Carolina. They were then caught in possession of a firearm, generally in the process of another crime.

Sounds like a slam dunk prosecution, right? Unfortunately, the Feds and NC define "felony" differently. Because there are states which do not classify their crimes by "felony" and "misdemeanor," the "felon in possession" law had to be written with an objective standard in mind. What the law actually says is that anyone who has been convicted of a crime for which the possible sentence could include a year or more in prison is considered a felon for the purposes of felon in possession.

Here's the problem. North Carolina has something called "structured sentencing." In an effort to make sentences more even across convictions, there is a sentencing guideline that the judges are supposed to follow.

If you look at the chart, you see that in order to face a possible 12 months in prison, you have to commit some pretty serious crimes or have quite a few prior convictions.

Put this all together and you have people who were convicted of Felonies in NC, were caught with a gun later, convicted of felon in possession under federal rules, but weren't really in violation of the law.

My proposal is that anyone convicted of a felony in NC gets 1 year in prison, minimum. We should also look at our laws and any crimes that don't warrant 1 year in prison shouldn't be felonies.