Shea blogged about the new crimes of death by distribution and aggravated death by distribution in G.S. 14-18.4, here. These crimes hit the books this past December, and 2020 will likely see the first prosecutions under the law. The Health In Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University School of Law has put together a toolkit to assist defense attorneys with these types of cases, available here. In full disclosure, the toolkit is part of a larger advocacy effort against these types of laws. Whatever your feelings about the policy reflected in the law, it seems likely to present new challenges for court actors applying it. This post highlights issues identified in the toolkit that may arise in NC prosecutions. Continue reading
Category Archives: Crimes and Elements
[Editor’s note: Because the information in this post cuts across multiple subject areas, the post will appear on several School of Government blogs.]
An Act to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and to Strengthen and Modernize Sexual Assault Laws, S.L. 2019-245 (S199) enacts and amends various laws related to crimes;* amends some civil and criminal statutes of limitations; requires mandatory training for school personnel addressing child sex abuse and trafficking; amends the definition of “caretaker” as it relates to child abuse, neglect, or dependency; and creates a new universal mandatory reporting law for child victims of certain crimes.
This post discusses
- the amendment to the definition of caretaker and
- the new mandatory reporting law, which requires any adult to make a report to law enforcement when a juvenile is a victim of certain crimes.
The advent of cannabis legalization across the country has led to a proliferation of new types of cannabis products. There are skin patches, food and drinks (for humans and pets), vaporizer or “vape” cartridges (or “carts”), and different concentrate or extract products (“dabs”, “wax” or “shatter”, among other names). [Click that last link and scroll down to see a chart listing the different forms of extracts and their names.] The products can be made from lawful hemp, or from illegal marijuana alike. The illegal versions have found their way into North Carolina, and questions abound regarding how to handle these cases. The questions most commonly involve wax and cartridges, so this post takes a look at the issues surrounding those cases (leaving the skin patches and edibles for another day). Continue reading →
Two years ago I wrote a blog post about North Carolina’s unusual stance on rape and consent. In its 1979 decision in State v. Way, 297 N.C. 293 (1979), the North Carolina Supreme Court appeared to take the position that if a woman consents to sexual intercourse and in the middle of the act changes her mind, the defendant is not guilty of rape for continuing to engage in intercourse with her. In my lengthy blog, I suggested ways to distinguish or limit the antiquated approach in Way. This post need not be nearly as long. Last week, the General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 199, which revised the elements of rape and other sexual offenses to recognize the right to revoke consent, whether or not sexual intercourse or another sexual act has begun. If signed by the Governor (the Governor has signed the bill), the law will apply to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019. Continue reading →
A person commits first-degree trespass when he or she “without authorization . . . enters or remains . . . in a building of another.” G.S. 14-159.12(a). But aren’t members of the public “authoriz[ed]” to enter public buildings? And given that public buildings belong to all of us, do they even count as buildings “of another”? In other words, is it possible to commit a trespass in a public building? Continue reading →
In August, the North Carolina Supreme Court weighed in on drug identification once again in State v. Osborne, ___ N.C. ___ (August 16, 2019). I wrote about the earlier Court of Appeals decision in the case, here. The new Osborne decision clarifies the application of drug identification rules as well as sufficiency of the evidence in this context. Continue reading →
Back in May, a divided Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on entrapment in an online solicitation of a minor case. Entrapment isn’t exactly a common defense (as Jeff noted here). When it comes up, it’s often in drug cases, but it can also arise in computer solicitation cases where law enforcement officers pretend to be underage. State v. Keller, ___ N.C. App. ___, 828 S.E.2d 578 (May 21, 2019), review allowed, ___ N.C. ___ (August 14, 2019), is an example of such a case and appears to be the second reported decision dealing directly with the defense in this context, so I wanted to flag it for readers. Fair warning, this post recounts some of the sexually graphic discussions at issue in the case. Continue reading →
Author’s note: The opinion discussed below was withdrawn and replaced by In re D.W.L.B, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Sept. 17, 2019). The new opinion concludes, for the same reasons provided in the earlier opinion, that the petition failed to allege that the juvenile made a false report concerning mass violence. The new opinion omits the portion of the earlier opinion holding that the petition properly alleged a violation of graffiti vandalism, explaining that even though the petition alleged facts that could constitute the crime of graffiti vandalism, the petition did not put the juvenile on notice that he needed to defend against a graffiti vandalism charge.
An elementary school student writes “BOMB INCOMING” on the wall of the boys’ bathroom at school. The student does not, in fact, know of any plans to bomb the school and has made no such plans himself. Has the student committed a crime or an act of juvenile delinquency? If so what crime or crimes has he committed?
Populate the poll below with your answer or answers and keep reading for mine.
Editor’s note: The opinion analyzed in this post was withdrawn shortly after publication and replaced with this opinion reaching the same outcome.
Last week, in State v. Ellis, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, 2019 WL 3559644 (N.C. Ct. App. Aug. 6, 2019), a divided panel of the court of appeals held that a trooper properly stopped a vehicle “after witnessing . . . a passenger in [the] vehicle . . . extend his middle finger in the trooper’s general direction.” The majority acknowledged that “there are a number of decisions from courts across the country [holding] that one cannot be held criminally liable for simply raising his middle finger at an officer.” Yet it ruled that the defendant’s conduct provided reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, namely, disorderly conduct. See generally G.S. 14-288.4(a)(2) (making it unlawful to make a gesture “intended and plainly likely to provoke violent retaliation”). Let’s take a closer look at Ellis. Continue reading →