North Carolina’s First Step Act


What is the North Carolina First Step Act?

  • North Carolina’s first step act is currently not a law; it has passed the State Senate and it is our belief that this will soon become a law.
  • North Carolina’s First Step Act is a law that, if passed, would allow for some relief when an individual is sentenced for drug trafficking. It allows for the judge, in very specific circumstances, to depart from the structured sentencing guidelines and also allows for certain people with convictions to seek relief from the court even after they have been sentenced.

When will the First Step Act become a law?

  • While there is no way to tell exactly when the First Step Act will become law, we estimate that it will not be long before both chambers of the state legislature pass the bill and that it will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

What Does the First Step Act do?

  • For those who qualify, the First Step Act will allow the Judge who is giving out the sentence to depart from the statutory limits for drug trafficking cases that are based on possession. This means the judge does not have to give the mandatory minimum and can instead impose a lesser punishment if they see fit.
  • The other option that the First Step Act opens up is for those who have already been convicted. If you have been convicted and you qualify for assistance under the terms of the First Step Act, you can file a Motion for Appropriate Relief. This would allow the judge to reconsider the terms of your sentence and potentially shorten the term of incarceration.

Who Qualifies for assistance under the First Step Act?

  • The list of criteria you must meet in order to qualify for assistance under the First Step Act is long, but generally, it includes non-violent offenders who were convicted of trafficking by possession, who have never been convicted of, nor is there evidence of ever selling and/or distributing narcotics.

If you think you may qualify and would like to speak to an attorney about the North Carolina First Step Act, contact Jetton & Meredith, PLLC at (704) 931-5535 for more information.