The North Carolina legislature recently passed S.L. 2021-68 which amends the existing financial transaction card theft statute to include knowingly possessing, selling, or delivering a skimming device. Continue reading
Category Archives: Crimes and Elements
Nearly 15 years ago, the General Assembly created the misdemeanor offense of failing to appear for two years for an implied consent offense. See S.L. 2006-253 (enacting new G.S. 20-28(a3), effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2006). The new provision was proposed by the Governor’s Task Force on Driving While Impaired in order to impose special sanctions for a person who fails to appear in court for this particular kind of motor vehicle offense. Those sanctions include driver’s license revocation for a person convicted of a violation of G.S. 20-28(a3)(2).
In the early years after the statute was enacted, there were many questions about which offenses it applied to. Offenses charged before December 1, 2004 for which the person had already failed to appear for two years before the statute’s effective date? Arguably not, for ex post facto reasons, as Jeff opined here. What about offenses charged a bit later for which the defendant already had failed to appear before December 1, 2006? Perhaps not, given the presumption of prospective application, as I wrote here. More recently questions have arisen about how to calculate the two-year statute of limitations for such an offense. Suppose, for example, a defendant was charged with DWI on January 1, 2017. The defendant failed to appear in court. On June 2, 2021, the State charged the defendant with failure to appear for two years after being charged with an implied consent offense. Does the two-year statute of limitations in G.S. 15-1 bar the prosecution?
I received an interesting question recently when I taught about the intersection of criminal defense and Chapter 35A incompetency. Suppose a person is adjudicated incompetent in a Chapter 35A proceeding and a guardian is appointed. Suppose that same person had been convicted of a crime requiring registration as a sex offender and compliance with the other obligations of Chapter 14, Article 27A. The person is required to register changes to their address (including providing notice to law enforcement of an intention to move out-of-state), to their academic and employment status, and to notify the State of changes to their name or online identifiers, including e-mail addresses. G.S. 14-208.7; G.S. 14-208.9. What effect does declaration of incompetency have on these registration requirements? Who is responsible for ensuring that the incompetent adult complies with these registration obligations—the adult or their guardian? Continue reading →
By now, we’re all aware of last week’s crisis that caused people to hurry to the pumps and fill up on gas. If not, here’s the news: a hacker group launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, a company that operates pipelines for gasoline, causing shortages of gas and panic buying on the east coast. Most likely, any criminal action against the group will happen at the federal level, but this post highlights relevant North Carolina laws that could apply if this or any similar acts are prosecuted within this jurisdiction. Continue reading →
If you haven’t, Catfish is a TV show that uncovers stories of online romantic relationships in which one person is involved with (and has usually sent money to) another person they have never seen. Some of the “couples” will have communicated online for several months without having ever seen one another, and the investigation usually reveals that the person on the other end was not who they claimed to be.
The show gave rise to the popular term “catfish,” which Merriam-Webster defines as the act of deceiving someone by creating a false personal profile online. Though it may be the most common, catfishing is merely one form of online impersonation. While many people may find it entertaining, catfishing and other methods of online impersonation can come with serious consequences.
Last week, President Biden announced several new executive actions on firearms, including: calling for an updated report on firearms trafficking; nominating a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and ordering the Department of Justice to draft new regulations that will treat handguns equipped with pistol braces as short-barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act, along with publishing a model “red flag” law for states to use as a guide. Jeff Welty and Shea Denning have previously written about red flag laws here and here.
One order in particular seems to be getting a lot of attention: instructing the DOJ to issue a proposed rule within 30 days to address “ghost guns.” I’ve gotten a few questions recently from law enforcement officers and prosecutors about ghost guns and the applicable law, so this post provides a summary of three topics: (i) what are ghost guns; (ii) why are they coming up as an issue now; and (iii) what do our existing state and federal laws say about them?
About a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, an increasing number of businesses have transitioned to touchless and contactless payments, with the use of cash taking a backseat to debit and credit cards. Not coincidentally, with increased use of financial cards comes increased financial card theft. Continue reading →
Last week, the SOG offered a criminal law update featuring various members of the criminal law faculty. If you missed it and are interested viewing the recording, the webinar should be posted here within a few weeks. This post will be familiar to those who attended, as I covered the topic there. Consider watching the program—it is free to view for educational purposes, and a modest cost if you need the CLE credit. For those that prefer their criminal law updates from the blog, read on! Continue reading →
I was recently updating a list of review questions for a course on larceny offenses when I came across a version of this scenario: a woman tells her friend that she left one of her items behind in the store and asks the friend to go retrieve it for her, but in fact the woman never purchased it. If the friend goes back and gets it, what’s the crime and who gets charged?
The question usually prompts a good discussion about conventional charging options like conspiracy, acting in concert, aiding and abetting, or being an accessory. Phil Dixon wrote this helpful post summarizing the most common theories of principal liability and their pleading requirements, but none of those are a perfect fit for these facts. The woman wasn’t present at the scene and didn’t personally take the item, and the friend was unaware of what was happening so there was no common purpose or criminal intent on her part.
I think the best answer is the rarely mentioned “other” theory of principal liability we have in North Carolina: Acting Indirectly, also known as the Innocent Agent doctrine.
In North Carolina, victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Our state’s Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) laws are in Chapter 50B of the General Statutes. A person seeking relief under Chapter 50B may file a civil action in district court alleging acts of domestic violence and seeking entry of a protective order. If the court enters a DVPO, a violation can have criminal consequences. This post reviews the criminal offenses involving violations of DVPOs.