This post summarizes published criminal opinions of the Court of Appeals decided on July 7, 2020. Continue reading
Category Archives: Crimes and Elements
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly passed S.B. 315, referred to as the State Farm Bill, which was subsequently signed into law by the Governor. The bill was pending all last session and stalled, allegedly over a dispute about how to treat smokable hemp. As I understand it, the bill originally intended to clarify that hemp in all forms (including smokable hemp) was legal (here is an earlier version of the bill taking that approach). After hearing objections from law enforcement and prosecutors (as detailed in the SBI memo on the subject), the proposed bill was changed to ban smokable hemp and regulate the rest of the hemp industry in a variety of ways. When the bill was last being discussed in the news, the dispute at the General Assembly had apparently narrowed to when the smokable hemp ban was to kick in. But, the bill never passed last session, and we were without a Farm Bill until this month. So, what big changes does the bill have in store for hemp in North Carolina? Continue reading →
Under the felony murder rule, a death that occurs as the proximate result of the commission or attempted commission of another qualifying crime (robbery, kidnapping, felony involving use of a deadly weapon, and others) constitutes first-degree murder, even in the absence of premeditation and deliberation. See G.S. 14-17(a). Shea Denning wrote a great summary of the basic law on felony murder here, and she tackled the confusing merger doctrine here.
But one topic we haven’t yet covered on this blog is the issue of agency. Under North Carolina’s felony murder law, a defendant can only be held responsible for a death that was caused by himself or an accomplice to the crime, not by an adversary such as a police officer who shoots back. Recently, I was confronted with a couple interesting questions about this rule.
First, why is that the rule, and does it have to be?
Second, how does it apply to situations such as when an innocent bystander is killed by a stray bullet that could have come from either an accomplice or an adversary?
We previously reported on North Carolina state and county-level criminal charging data. In our earlier report (here) we provided data on charges, charged defendants and charged cases for felonies and misdemeanors, and broke misdemeanors down into non-traffic and traffic offenses. In this report, we present more detailed information about the nature of the felony and misdemeanor charges brought in North Carolina in 2019. For felony offenses, we provide data at the state and county level on, among other things, the number of non-violent and violent felony charges, and separate out drug charges. At the misdemeanor level, we parse the data into still more categories, including breakdowns for, among other things, DWI and related charges, non-DWI traffic charges, ordinance violations, and non-violent and violent misdemeanor charges. There is a lot to unpack in our new spreadsheet. In this report, we present some of the top line results. A spreadsheet with the data is available here. Continue reading →
Over the past couple weeks, North Carolina has joined the growing list of states in which armed demonstrators have gathered to express their opposition to virus-related restrictions on economic activity and social gatherings, or to more generally express their opposition to any restrictions on their Second Amendment rights. Dressed in patriotic or military-style gear, and armed with a variety of openly displayed handguns, rifles, or even an (inert) AT-4 anti-tank weapon, these groups have processed along city streets and sidewalks or gathered in public locations like a historic cemetery and a downtown restaurant.
Now, particularly in light of an incident over the weekend where two local attorneys walking with their children felt threatened by a demonstrator wielding a large pipe wrench, a lot of people are asking the same question: are these armed demonstrations legal?
The question seems simple. The answer is more complicated.
We’re pleased to announce that the 2019 Cumulative Supplement to North Carolina Crimes: A Guidebook on the Elements of Crime is now available for purchase. The book includes cases and legislation through December 31, 2019. Continue reading →
This post summarizes published criminal and related decisions from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in March, 2020. Decisions of interest to state practitioners will be posted on a monthly basis. Previous summaries of Fourth Circuit criminal and related decisions can be found here. Continue reading →
The Governor ordered individuals in North Carolina to stay at home and non-essential business operations to cease beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, 2020. The order, Executive Order No. 121, remains in effect for thirty days from that date. Here are a few things to know about the order and its enforcement. Continue reading →
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 →
[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.