The North Carolina General Assembly has been hard at work this legislative session, having already passed several bills affecting criminal law and procedure. There are a handful of laws that have already taken effect. As is typically the case, most of the other laws have an effective date of December 1 to allow the courts to prepare for the changes. This post provides a brief summary of the criminal law and related legislation enacted thus far during this legislative session.
The man who authorities say was operating the boat that crashed into 17-year-old Sheyenne Marshall while she was knee-boarding on Lake Norman on July 4, 2015, killing her, faces charges for boating while impaired, a Class 2 misdemeanor, operating a vessel in a reckless manner, a Class 2 misdemeanor, and involuntary manslaughter, a Class F felony. After the accident, Marshall’s family lobbied the legislature for stiffer penalties for impaired boating. Less than a year after Marshall was killed, the General Assembly enacted Sheyenne’s law, which increases the penalties for impaired boating that causes death or serious injury to another.
Have you ever been involved in a case in which the defendant was convicted of a criminal charge, did his time, and then was served with an outstanding warrant even though the warrant was pending when he was convicted of the other charge? If the warrant had been served earlier, the defendant could have taken care all of his criminal business at once. Doing so would save the court time, allow the State to come up with an appropriate resolution of all the charges, and allow the defendant to coordinate his defense and, if convicted, seek concurrent sentences or a combination of active and probationary time. If resolved before a single court at the same time, the charges could be consolidated for judgment (G.S. 15A-1340.15(b)) and also would result in fewer prior record points (G.S. 15A-1340.14(d)).
A little-noticed piece of legislation from 2015, S.L. 2015-48 (H 570), attempts to address the problem of unserved warrants. Effective October 1, 2015, the legislation directs law enforcement agencies, the Division of Adult Correction, prosecutors, and the courts to identify and attempt to resolve outstanding warrants while other charges are pending or the defendant is in custody.
No doubt in response to funeral protests by groups like Westboro Baptist Church, in 2006 NC amended its disorderly conduct statute, G.S. 14-288.4, adding a provision prohibiting disorderly conduct at a funeral. Under current law a person commits this offense when he or she: (1) intentionally (2) causes a public disturbance (3) by engaging in … Read more