In a previous post I wrote about State v. McNeil, a case that resolved the question of how to count prior convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, in light of that crime’s 2014 division into Class 1 (non-marijuana) and Class 3 (marijuana) offenses. Today’s post is about prior convictions for second-degree murder—split into Class B1 and Class B2 varieties in 2012—in light of State v. Arrington, a case recently decided by the supreme court.
Jeff wrote on Monday about efforts by North Carolina government officials to combat the opioid epidemic.The initiatives he highlighted, such as addiction treatment and needle exchange programs, primarily attack the problem from a public health perspective. Jeff noted the contrast between this approach and the criminal-drug-law enforcement response to the spread of crack cocaine in the 1990s.
That’s not to say, however, that the criminal justice system isn’t responding to the current crisis. In counties across the State, including New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Pitt, Union, and Wake, prosecutors are pursuing second-degree murder charges against defendants who are alleged to have provided the opioids leading to victims’ deaths.
This post explores the basis for murder charges based on the unlawful distribution of drugs and what the State must prove at trial to establish a defendant’s guilt.
When I think of unlawful racing, scenes from old movies come to mind. I see guys (more specifically, James Dean and John Travolta) in white t-shirts and leather jackets behind the wheels of vintage Fords and Mercurys. Unfortunately, however, unlawful racing has not been relegated to the past. There were nearly 500 charges for unlawful speed competition in North Carolina last year, a misdemeanor offense that can result in the revocation of a person’s driver’s license as well as the seizure of the motor vehicle driven—not to mention serious injury or death.
In 2014, 1,284 people were killed in traffic accidents in North Carolina. Most of those people were occupants in a passenger car, though motor vehicle crashes also claimed the lives of 172 pedestrians, 190 motorcyclists and 19 bicyclists. Seventy percent of the fatalities resulted from crashes that did not involve an alcohol-impaired driver. While it is fairly easy to determine the appropriate criminal charge when a person drives while impaired and proximately causes the death of another, it is less obvious what the appropriate charge is when a driver’s violation of another type of traffic statute proximately causes someone else’s death.
I’ll save you the suspense: Yes. Read on for an explanation.
Most impaired drivers arrive at their destinations without harming themselves or anyone else. And few such drivers are actually stopped by police. That may explain why eight percent of people nationwide who were over 16 years old reported riding in a vehicle with a driver they thought may have consumed too much alcohol to drive … Read more
Senate Bill 105, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly overwhelmingly and appears certain to become law (either with the Governor’s signature or because of the passage of time without her veto), increases the penalty for most second-degree murders. Second-degree murder is currently a B2 felony, but for offenses committed on or after December … Read more
Jeff wrote here about a recent high-profile case in which a defendant, Raymond Cook, was charged with multiple felony offenses after he drove while impaired and crashed into a young woman’s car in North Raleigh, killing her. In Cook’s case, the jury found the defendant guilty of impaired driving, involuntary manslaughter and felony death by … Read more
Our murder statute, G.S. 14-17, defines first-degree murder, then proceeds as follows: “All other kinds of murder, including that which shall be proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium . . . cocaine . . . or methamphetamine, when the ingestion of such substance causes the death of the user, shall be deemed murder … Read more
Among the most recent batch of opinions issued by the Court of Appeals was State v. Tellez, in which the court upheld the defendant’s conviction of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of felonious hit and run arising from a fatal car crash. Here are the facts: Defendant went to a party in … Read more