Misdemeanor Reclassification, the Right to Counsel, and the Budget

The legislature has agreed on a budget, and it contains some provisions that will impact misdemeanor sentencing and the appointment of counsel — potentially in tens of thousands of cases each year. Status of the budget. The current budget bill is S 402. It is available here. The accompanying “money report,” which provides narrative explanations … Read more

Court Costs and Traffic Citations

Court costs support many different programs and purposes. The principal statute concerning court costs in criminal cases is G.S. 7A-304. (Under G.S. 15A-1118, these costs also apply to infraction cases.) G.S. 7A-304 establishes various court costs for the support of “courtroom(s) and related judicial facilities,” “courthouse phone systems,” “retirement and insurance benefits [for] . . … Read more


The Link Between License Revocations and Failures to Appear

In 1985, the General Assembly reclassified certain minor traffic violations as a new type of non-criminal violation, termed an infraction. S.L. 1985-764. Though the legislation provided that infractions were to be processed in much the same manner as misdemeanor criminal charges (they were to be calendared and prosecuted by the district attorney, proved beyond a … Read more

Searching Cell Phones for Evidence of Texting While Driving

The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that cell phones generally cannot be searched without a warrant incident to arrest. That court’s decision is here. The law in North Carolina appears to be otherwise, as I’ve noted here and here. But reading the Ohio decision reminded me of a topic some colleagues and I were discussing … Read more