Consolidation of Sentences

North Carolina sentencing law allows multiple convictions to be consolidated for sentencing. Consolidation of felonies is governed by G.S. 15A-1340.15(b); G.S. 15A-1340.22(b) covers misdemeanors. The rule is the same for both types of crimes: when you consolidate offenses for judgment, the court imposes a single judgment, with a single sentence appropriate for the defendant’s most serious conviction. It’s a pretty extraordinary thing when you think about it. Notwithstanding all the fine-tuned, mandatory math that goes into the sentencing of a single offense under Structured Sentencing, the law allows virtually unfettered discretion to disregard all but the most serious offense for a defendant convicted of multiple crimes. Today’s post collects some of the rules for consolidation. Continue reading

Search Warrants for Suicide Scenes

Here’s a question that comes up from time to time: May a search warrant issue for a residence in which an apparent suicide has taken place, in order to rule out the possibility of foul play? Generally, I don’t think so, for the reasons given below. Continue reading

News Roundup

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I was on the debate team in high school and college, and I coach a high school debate team now. I’ve coached several students who went on to debate for Harvard, two of whom won collegiate national championships and one of whom won a world championship, a rare feat for an American debater. So I was pretty surprised to read this article from The Guardian, which reports that a team of New York prison inmates defeated a team of Harvard debaters a couple of weeks back. Kudos to the inmates. I know from experience that those Harvard kids are sharp. Continue reading

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Revised Sex Offender Flow Chart (October 2015 Edition)

With the General Assembly done for the year, it’s time to post an updated sex offender registration and monitoring flow chart. A major reorganization of the sex crimes in Chapter 14 necessitated more changes than usual. Continue reading

Must Officers Now Arrest, Rather Than Cite, for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession?

This session, the General Assembly made some changes to the statute governing the fingerprinting of criminal defendants. Inside and outside the School of Government, people are divided about whether the statute now requires officers to arrest, rather than cite, individuals for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses. Continue reading

Technical Corrections Act Clarifies New DWLR Law

Earlier this legislative session, the General Assembly enacted the North Carolina Drivers License Restoration Act, S.L. 2015-186, which amended the state’s driving while license revoked law and relieved certain defendants of the mandatory license revocations that historically have followed convictions for this offense. I blogged here about the particulars of the act, which recodified various violations of G.S. 20-28 and eliminated additional license revocations for certain types of DWLR convictions. Three questions about the import of the act immediately arose. Now that the technical corrections bill has become law, I have answers.squareDWLR chart_edited-1

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Supreme Court Preview: 2015 Term

It’s the first Monday in October, which means it’s the first day of the Supreme Court’s 2015 Term. Read on to learn about the criminal law cases that the Court will consider. Continue reading

News Roundup

While the General Assembly has closed up shop, Congress is going strong, and a bipartisan group of Senators has introduced the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, which would reform federal mandatory minimums in drug cases, expand the “safety valve,” and require a complete inventory of all federal criminal offenses. The last item especially intrigues me, because several efforts at listing all federal crimes have failed in the recent past. Doug Berman summarizes the legislation here, and a critical reaction to it is here. Continue reading

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Revoked, but Still on Probation?

I was surprised by one of the provisions included in the omnibus criminal law bill, S.L. 2015-247, that Jeff summarized yesterday. The act amended G.S. 15A-1347 to say that when a defendant whose probation is revoked in district or superior court appeals that revocation, “probation supervision will continue under the same conditions until the termination date of the supervision period or disposition of the appeal, whichever comes first.” The change was effective immediately when the governor signed it on September 23, and people are already asking what it means. Here are my thoughts. Continue reading

Omnibus Criminal Law Bill

The General Assembly has just adjourned for the year. Last week, it passed, and the Governor signed, an omnibus criminal law bill, S.L. 2015-247. This post briefly summarizes its main provisions. Continue reading