Announcing C-CAT 2.0

Several years ago the School obtained a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to create an online, searchable database of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in North Carolina. In 2012, after two years of legal and IT work, we launched the Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool, or C-CAT for short, to assist attorneys, reentry professionals, affected individuals, and policymakers in understanding the impact of a criminal conviction. We’re happy to announce we have given C-CAT a new look. It is available, still at no charge, at Continue reading

News Roundup

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, the nation’s police officers say that “recent high-profile fatal encounters between black citizens and officers have made their jobs riskier, aggravated tensions between police and blacks, and left many officers reluctant to fully carry out some of their duties.” In a survey of more than 8,000 officers, roughly three-quarters of respondents said that they are more reluctant to use force when it is appropriate and a similar number reported less willingness to stop and question people who seem suspicious.  While these results are generating headlines, the survey is wide-ranging and includes a variety of information about officers’ experiences in a challenging profession to which an overwhelming majority (96 percent) feel strongly committed.  Keep reading for more news.

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Sentencing Handbook for 2016-2017 Now Available

coverThe 2016-2017 edition of the North Carolina Sentencing Handbook with Felony, Misdemeanor, and DWI Sentencing Grids, authored by me and Shea, is available from the School of Government. Like previous editions, it contains instructions on felony sentencing, misdemeanor sentencing, and DWI sentencing; the sentencing grids themselves; and various appendices that may be helpful in your work. Continue reading

Alcohol Concentration Restrictions and Ignition Interlock: What’s the Law?

Among the questions I am most frequently asked is: What is the proper charge when a person violates an alcohol concentration restriction on his or her driver’s license? As soon as I answer that question, the next one comes in: Is the answer the same if the person violates an ignition interlock restriction? When I say that it is not, additional questions follow. If you too are unsure about the rules for charging and processing a person who is suspected of violating one of these types of license restrictions, I’m hoping the rest of this post will clear things up.  Continue reading

North Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Search of Vehicle Located on Premises as Within Scope of Search Warrant

The North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Lowe (December 21, 2016) ruled that a search warrant validly authorized a search of a vehicle parked on the driveway of the premises and within its curtilage, and it reversed a contrary ruling by the Court of Appeals (State v. Lowe, 774 S.E.2d 893, 21 July 2015). This post discusses the supreme court’s ruling. Continue reading

State Supreme Court Rules that the State Bar Can’t Discipline a Sitting Judge for Judicial Misconduct

Judges are lawyers, and lawyers are subject to discipline by the State Bar. Does that mean that judges are subject to discipline by the State Bar? Generally not, according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Continue reading

News Roundup

As the New York Times reports, the sentencing phase of Dylann Roof’s federal death penalty trial began this week following his December conviction on thirty-three charges arising from murdering nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Roof is representing himself during this phase of the trial.  In a brief opening statement, Roof repeatedly told jurors that he was not mentally ill.  In what is described as a “white supremacist manifesto” disclosed during the prosecution’s opening statement, Roof wrote that he did not regret his actions and had “not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.”  An opinion piece from NBC News argues that Roof “has a constitutional right not to try to spare his own life.”  Keep reading for more news.
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Petitions to Terminate Sex Offender Registration: Moir Tiers

Last month the supreme court decided State v. Moir. It is a case about how a state sex crime—namely, indecent liberties with a child—fits within the offense tiering system set out in the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).  Continue reading

Tolling the Statute of Limitations after State v. Turner

The court of appeals held last month in State v. Turner, __ N.C. App. __, 793 S.E.2d 287 (2016), temp. stay allowed, __ N.C. __ (2016), that the issuance of a magistrate’s order charging a defendant with driving while impaired did not toll the two-year statute of limitations applicable to misdemeanors. The court reasoned that the provision setting forth the statute of limitations, G.S. 15-1, was explicit in requiring that an indictment or presentment be issued within two years. The court said that only one extension of this rule had been recognized: Pursuant to State v. Underwood, 244 N.C. 68 (1956), a defendant may be tried upon a misdemeanor charged by a warrant within two years of the offense. Because Turner was not charged by presentment, indictment or warrant and the State failed to “commence the prosecution of its case” within two years of the offense, the court of appeals ruled that the trial court properly dismissed the charges.

Last month’s blog commentary included a lively dispute about whether trial courts are bound to follow Turner given the state supreme court’s issuance of a stay. Regardless of whether Turner is binding precedent (and I don’t think it yet is, given the stay), trial courts may rely on its reasoning.  Moreover, the state supreme court may ultimately decline to review the opinion or, if it does grant review, may affirm its holding. Thus, prosecutors across the state are considering whether and how the State may satisfy or toll the statute of limitations for misdemeanors charged by citation or magistrate’s order.

There are at least four categories of such misdemeanors, and the implications for each are discussed below. Continue reading

Welcome, Phil Dixon

I want to kick off 2017 by welcoming the School of Government’s new Defender Educator, Philip R. Dixon, Jr. Today is his first day on the job. You can already reach him at and 919.966.4248. Continue reading

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