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 http://ccat.sog.unc.edu/. Continue reading
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.
The 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
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
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
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
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.
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