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Relief from a Criminal Conviction (2020 Edition)

Termination of Satellite-Based Monitoring Obligations

Lifetime Monitoring

North Carolina statutes provide for lifetime satellite-based monitoring in certain circumstances, but the constitutionality of lifetime monitoring is doubtful under recent decisions by the North Carolina appellate courts.

North Carolina statutes provide that a person who is subject to lifetime sex offender registration under Part 3 of Article 27A of G.S. Chapter 14—that is, a person who has been convicted of an aggravated offense, classified as a recidivist, or found to be a sexually violent predator—is automatically subject to lifetime satellite-based monitoring. They also provide that a person convicted of a violation of G.S. 14-27.23 (rape of a child by an adult) or G.S. 14-27.28 (sexual offense against a child by an adult) is subject to lifetime satellite-based monitoring. (For offenses committed before December 1, 2015, these statutes were codified as G.S. 14-27.2A and G.S. 14-27.4A. S.L. 2015-181 (H 383).)

The North Carolina courts have struck down as unconstitutional lifetime satellite-based monitoring for people classified as recidivists. See Jamie Markham, Satellite-Based Monitoring Is Unconstitutional for All Unsupervised Recidivists, N.C. Crim. L., UNC Sch. of Gov’t Blog (Sep. 12, 2019). For the other lifetime categories, the North Carolina courts have considered in each case whether satellite-based monitoring is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. To date, no North Carolina decisions have found that the State has met its burden of establishing that lifetime monitoring is a reasonable search. See, e.g., State v. Hutchens, ___ N.C. App. ___, 846 S.E.2d 306 (2020). If the State has not terminated lifetime monitoring in light of North Carolina case law, a person may be able to file a motion for appropriate relief or other court action to terminate or reduce the period of monitoring.

A person also may petition the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission for termination of lifetime satellite-based monitoring if he or she meets the requirements of G.S. 14-208.43, set forth in Table 29. There is not an official form petition. Before pursuing this step, which has additional restrictions for relief, a person may first want to seek a ruling from a court about the constitutionality of the lifetime monitoring obligation. 

Monitoring for Period of Years

For people convicted of an offense subject to the 30-year registration program, the sentencing judge may require satellite-based monitoring in some circumstances. See G.S. 14-208.40(a)(2) (offense against minor). A court may impose a period of satellite-based monitoring for the length of registration or for a shorter period, such as the period of any probationary sentence. A person may have grounds to file a motion for appropriate relief or other action to address the constitutionality of monitoring, particularly if the requirement extends beyond the term of probation or post-release supervision. See generally State v. Thompson, ___ N.C. App. ___, 852 S.E.2d 365 (2020) (finding that additional five years of monitoring beyond post-release supervision was not unreasonable search). In addition, a person may be able to make a motion to the court to modify a condition of probation. See G.S. 15A-1344(a) (authorizing court to modify terms of probation). cf. State v. Clayton, 206 N.C. App. 300 (2010) (holding that trial judge could not impose satellite-based monitoring in response to probation violation).

If the requirement to register as a sex offender is terminated, the Post-Release Supervision Commission must, on request of the person, terminate satellite-based monitoring. See G.S. 14-208.43(d1) (requiring termination of satellite-based monitoring if registration is terminated).

 

Table 29. Termination of Lifetime Satellite-Based Monitoring Obligations by Post-Release Supervision Commission

Matters Subject to Termination of Satellite-Based Monitoring Obligations

Principal Restrictions on Termination of Registration

Applicable Statutes and Forms

  • Conviction of an offense subject to Part 3 of Art. 27A of G.S. Ch. 14 or under G.S. 14-27.23 or G.S. 14-27.28 (lifetime satellite-based monitoring program)
  • Petition may not be filed until one year after completion of sentence, including any period of probation, parole, or post-release supervision
  • No additional reportable convictions during period of satellite-based monitoring
  • Substantial compliance with Art. 27A of G.S. Ch. 14
  • Commission finds that person is not likely to pose threat to safety of others