Each year the School of Government summarizes legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly affecting criminal law and procedure and motor vehicle laws. The summaries for this legislative session are now available and can be accessed here.
Looking to solve court appearance issues in your jurisdiction? Find tools that work for you with the Court Appearance Toolbox! This new, online resource from the UNC School of Government Criminal Justice Innovation Lab has off-the-shelf tools to promote court appearance and improve responses to missed appearances. You’ll find implementation guides, videos, templates, fact sheets, and much more.
The Toolbox includes examples from North Carolina and across the country. Its resources can be adapted for any jurisdiction.
To learn more about the Toolbox and how to use it, join the Lab’s FREE 30-minute webinar on Friday, December 8th at 12:30pm. Register here.
A Wisconsin official who posted a photo of his marked ballot on Facebook during the April 2022 election had felony charges against him dropped Monday. Paul Buzzell, a member of a local school board, faced maximum penalties of 3.5 years behind bars and $10,000 in fines and would have been barred from holding elected office if convicted. Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy dismissed the charges against Buzzell, expressing that a state law prohibiting voters from showing their marked ballots to anyone else is in violation of the constitutional right to freedom of speech.
According to this AP article, there has been movement in other states in favor of allowing “ballot selfies.” In New Hampshire, a federal judge held that a state law barring an individual’s right to publish their ballot violated the First Amendment. Legislators in Michigan changed state law in 2019 to make ballot selfies legal. The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill in 2020 to legalize ballot selfies, but the proposal died in the state Assembly.
Keep reading for more criminal law news.
One of the central differences between delinquency matters and criminal matters is that juvenile records are not subject to public inspection. This includes juvenile court records (G.S. 7B-3000(b)); all law enforcement records and files concerning juveniles, unless jurisdiction has been transferred to superior court (G.S. 7B-3001(b)); and all records and files maintained by the Division of Juvenile Justice (G.S. 7B-3001(c)). Part II of Session Law 2023-114 adds a new G.S. 7B-3103 to the Juvenile Code to establish a limited exception to the confidentiality of juvenile records. It allows the release of juvenile information to the public under certain circumstances. This new law applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2023.
Consider a fact pattern that takes place every day, all across the country: a police officer stops a motorist for a traffic infraction, runs the motorist’s license through a computer database and finds nothing exceptional, and returns the driver’s license and registration, perhaps along with a warning or a citation. The officer then asks the driver for consent to search the driver’s car. The driver consents and the officer finds drugs. Did the officer do anything wrong in this situation? Are the drugs subject to suppression? The answers depend on whether the traffic stop ended when the officer returned the driver’s license. As a recent case shows, that can be a complex determination.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday its adoption of a Code of Conduct setting out the ethics rules and principles that guide the justices. In a statement accompanying the rules, the Court stated that for the most part, the provisions were not new as the Court historically has been governed by “common law ethics rules” derived from a variety of sources. The Court stated that it was adopting the Code to “dispel” the “misunderstanding” that justices regard themselves as unrestricted by ethics rules. Adoption of the ethics rules did not quell the criticism related to recent reports of gifts and benefits bestowed on some justices and critics were quick to point out that the new code lacks an enforcement mechanism.
Our cell phones and laptops normally are subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy, meaning that police cannot search them without a search warrant or an applicable exception to the warrant requirement. But when a person abandons a digital device, he or she relinquishes that expectation of privacy and police may examine the device without a warrant or an exception. This post discusses when a device has been abandoned and explores several common fact patterns.
Police in Boone may have narrowly averted a mass shooting this week. According to WRAL, Peter Gabaree was asked to leave a popular bar in the college town. He went to his vehicle in the parking lot, where two patrons noticed that he was holding a handgun. They told the bar’s security staff, who called police. Officers responded and ultimately charged Gabaree with going armed to the terror of the public. In his vehicle, they found “a tactical vest, a shotgun, the pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.” The police chief described Gabaree as “preparing weapons.” Keep reading for more news.
I previously blogged about the new misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, which will take effect on December 1, 2023. For the new offense, codified as G.S. 14-32.5, a person is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor if that person uses or attempts to use physical force, or threatens the use of a deadly weapon, against another person. The person who commits the offense must have a covered relationship with the victim, as specified by the statute.
While both the new misdemeanor domestic violence statute (G.S. 14-32.5) and the existing domestic violence pretrial release statute (G.S. 15A-534.1) require both a covered offense and a qualifying relationship, the requirements do not mirror one another. This post explores the interplay between the relationships listed under G.S. 14-32.5 and G.S. 15A-534.1.
A group in Massachusetts is working to clear the names of people accused of witchcraft, according to this report from the AP. The Massachusetts Witch-Hunt Justice Project includes historians and distant relatives of the hundreds of people who were charged, tried for, or convicted of witchery in the state during the 17th century. A similar effort in Connecticut resulted in a legislative resolution of innocence on behalf of the accused and an apology. According to this story, the last witchcraft trial in North America took place in Virigina in 1706. Read on for more criminal law news.