The North Carolina General Assembly has been hard at work this legislative session, having already passed several bills affecting criminal law and procedure. There are a handful of laws that have already taken effect. As is typically the case, most of the other laws have an effective date of December 1 to allow the courts to prepare for the changes. This post provides a brief summary of the criminal law and related legislation enacted thus far during this legislative session.
Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who has been charged with leaking classified documents, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six federal counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defense. The classified Pentagon documents were discovered online in March, but prosecutors say that Teixeira had been sharing them on the internet since around January. Teixeira held a top-secret security clearance starting around July 2021 and was trained in the definition of classified information, classification levels and proper handling of such materials. If he is convicted on all six counts, he could face up to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million. Keep reading for more news.
Last month, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S.L. 2023-14 (S 20) which largely covers changes to abortion laws. Within this bill is also a newly defined “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” which takes effect for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023. This post discusses the utility of the new offense and the implications that it may have on a defendant’s gun rights.
A Wake County couple was arrested last week on animal cruelty charges for poisoning three dogs belonging to a neighbor. Ironically, the husband was a donor and board member of a local dog rescue. The rescue group has since announced on Facebook that he has voluntarily resigned. Keep reading for more news.
Pretrial release is generally set by magistrates at a defendant’s initial appearance. As a special approach to setting conditions of pretrial release, the “48-hour rule,” as it is known in domestic violence cases, shifts that responsibility to judges. The rule comes from G.S. 15A-534.1, which provides that a judge rather than a magistrate must set a defendant’s pretrial release conditions during the first 48 hours after arrest for certain offenses. The 48-hour rule generates a lot of questions. Below, I have answered some fundamental questions that have arisen with this rule.
In December, the North Carolina Supreme Court decided State v. Atwell, 2022-NCSC-135, ___ N.C. ___ (2022)—its third time weighing in on the issue of forfeiture of counsel. The defendant had had five court-appointed attorneys when the trial court determined that the defendant was engaging in delay tactics and entered an order of forfeiture. A majority of the Court of Appeals found no error. In reversing this decision, a majority of the Supreme Court concluded that the record did not show that the defendant engaged in the level of conduct sufficient to warrant a finding of forfeiture.
This post discusses State v. Atwell, forfeiture guidelines as set forth by the state Supreme Court, and suggested practices in dealing with forfeiture of counsel issues.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: legislative summaries are now available. Though the North Carolina General Assembly has not yet adjourned, it does not expect to have votes during any of the sessions held for the remainder of the year. Nevertheless, there can always be surprises. For now, you can read summaries of … Read more
What do you typically think of when you hear the word “strangulation”? If you are like most people, the word probably triggers a mental image of hands around someone’s throat. Thinking forward to the aftereffects of strangulation, you might imagine bruises around a person’s neck, redness, scratches, or other visible signs of injury.
Although those are common results, it is not uncommon for a person to present with no external injuries after having been strangled. Rather, a person could potentially be suffering from serious internal injuries. If overlooked, internal injuries can result in severe or permanent conditions.
North Carolina’s strangulation law requires both that the perpetrator “strangle” the victim and inflict “physical injury.” This post explores the meaning of those elements, the potential issues that may arise in applying them, and the approach other jurisdictions take toward the crime of strangulation. The post closes with some observations about whether North Carolina’s current definition of strangulation adequately addresses the ways in which the crime may occur.
I’m happy to announce the publication of my new bulletin, Units of Prosecution: Charging Multiple Counts for the Same Conduct. The bulletin explores a common issue that arises in various contexts: when does conduct constitute one continuing offense and when does conduct constitute more than one offense?
The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed S.L. 2022-30 (S 766) which increases the penalties for organized retail theft, provides additional penalties for damage to property or assault of a person during the commission of organized retail theft, and clarifies the procedure for the return of seized property to the lawful owner. The new criminal provisions go into effect on December 1, 2022 and apply to offenses committed on or after that date.