Gun-Toting Felons

North Carolina law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms.  See G.S. 14-415.1.  I’ve had several recurrent questions about this offense, so here’s an FAQ about FIP (felon in possession): 1. Doesn’t North Carolina allow felons to possess long guns? Not anymore.  North Carolina’s FIP law used to have lots of exceptions, including exceptions for long … Read more

News Roundup

This post simply highlights and links to some of the criminal law news that’s broken over the last few days, since there’s been an unusual amount of it. First, the National Academy of Sciences issued an apparently scathing report about the state of the nation’s crime labs.  Newspaper story here, full report available for purchase … Read more

Proposed Changes to Sentencing Laws

With the growing prison population and the shrinking budget, there’s some talk of changes to North Carolina’s sentencing laws. An article in the paper last week made general reference to sentencing alternatives proposed by the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. I thought people might be interested in knowing a little more about the specifics of … Read more

Recording Interrogations

A couple of sessions ago, the General Assembly enacted G.S. 15A-211, which requires that custodial interrogations in homicide cases be recorded. The idea is to “eliminate disputes about interrogations,” id., and particularly, to prevent and record any coercion by law enforcement that might result in a false confession, and to prevent false claims of coercion. … Read more

U Visas for Undocumented Crime Victims

Criminal lawyers are paying more attention to immigration issues in cases where the defendant is not a United States citizen, and that’s a good thing. But my sense is that many lawyers don’t know about a provision of immigration law that applies in certain cases where the victim is not a United States citizen. It’s … Read more

Going off the Grid

In addition to sentencing in the mitigated range of the Structured Sentencing grid, there are two ways defendants can receive more lenient punishment in North Carolina: extraordinary mitigation and substantial assistance. Each law applies only in certain circumstances, and sometimes there’s confusion between the two. Extraordinary mitigation—or, more precisely, Dispositional Deviation for Extraordinary Mitigation under … Read more


The News and Observer has had several interesting criminal justice articles over the past few days — including one about the great potted plant caper, available here: — but the one that struck me the most was this one, about “sexting”: Apparently, posting naked pictures of oneself on Myspace is soooooooo 2008.  Kids who are really … Read more

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have some training opportunities coming up here at the School of Government. Since this blog is intended to be of interest to both sides (as well as judges, law enforcement, and others), I thought I’d plug all of the training opportunities. A program for (relatively) new prosecutors will run from … Read more