Tracking Court Cost Waivers

Earlier this year National Public Radio ran a series on court costs entitled Guilty and Charged. The general point of the series was that “the costs of the criminal justice system in the United States are paid increasingly by the defendants and offenders”—a population that is mostly poor. Missed payments often lead to more fees, interest, probation violations, and eventually incarceration.

North Carolina is no exception to the national trend.

Read more

Stealth Constitutional Amendment Could Bring Big Changes

This fall, North Carolina voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution. The proposed amendment would allow, for the first time, bench trials for felonies in superior court. Neither the media nor advocacy groups have paid much attention to the amendment, so almost no one seems to know that it is on the table. For … Read more

Waiving a Probation Violation Hearing

A probationer is entitled to a hearing on an alleged probation violation, unless the hearing is waived. G.S. 15A-1345(e). What does it mean to waive a probation violation hearing? As a result of legislation passed in 2013, the answer to that question matters more than it used to for probation violations in district court. Ordinarily, … Read more

Waiving Court Costs

Following up on Jeff’s post yesterday about court costs and traffic citations, today’s post is about a trial judge’s authority to waive court costs. Under G.S. 7A-304, certain court costs “shall be assessed” in every criminal case where a defendant is convicted or enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. Under the pre-2011 version … Read more

Berghuis v. Thompkins

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court decided Berghuis v. Thompkins, an important Miranda case. (There are other issues in the case, too, but this post will focus on the Miranda claim.) The basic facts, taken from the Court’s syllabus, are as follows: After advising respondent Thompkins of his rights, in full compliance with Miranda v. … Read more

Knowing and Voluntary Miranda Waivers

The Sixth Circuit, sitting en banc, recently decided a very interesting Miranda case. Garner v. Mitchell, available here, is a capital case.  The defendant stole a woman’s purse, took a taxi to her house, robbed it, and set it on fire to conceal his fingerprints, killing five of the six children who were sleeping in … Read more