Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Legislation

These new laws have been passed and signed by the governor. I put them in topical alphabetical order because that's the way I am... Also, I didn't include the Justice Reinvestment Act. I posted on it earlier here.

Bond. S.L. 2011-277. (SB 135). Allows consideration of juvenile record (felonies and A1 misdemeanors) in setting bond.

Discovery. S.L. 2011-250 (HB 408). Strengthens language in discovery statute making it clear that all law enforcement agencies have a duty to give reports/etc. to the prosecutor, who then must give it to the defendant. Exempts crimestopper reports and Victim Impact Statements from the discovery law (absent a court order). Creates a presumption of good faith compliance by the prosecutor for discovery violations, further protecting them from sanctions.

DWI Punishment Enhancement and Custodial Interrogation of Jjuveniles. S.L. 2011-329 (SB 241)
  • DWI: Requires DWI Level 1 sentencing if a minor is in the car at the time of offense.
  • Interrogation of Juveniles: requires electronic recording of interrogations of juveniles in A, B1, B2 and the class C offenses of rape, sex assault, and AWDWIKISI.
DWI Punishment Enhancement Part 2 (Laura's Law). S.L. 2011-191. (HB 49). Requires an "aggravated level 1" punishment for person convicted with 3 or more aggravators present. Punishment for "aggravated level 1" is $10,000 fine and 12-36 months in prison with no parole. Can be suspended, if an intermediate sentence is imposed with 120 days imprisonment and continuous alcohol monitoring.

Exclusionary Rule. S.L. 2011-6. (HB 3). Adds a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule ("Evidence shall not be suppressed under this subdivision if the person committing the violation of the provision or provisions under this Chapter acted under the objectively reasonable, good faith belief that the actions were lawful."). Calls on the Supreme Court to overturn State v. Carter, 322 N.C. 709 (1988), which held that the good faith exclusion did not apply under NC law. Carter was based on the NC Constitution and cannot be overturned by act of the legislature. Apparently, there is litigation on-going to try to convince the courts to overturn Carter.

Expunction. S.L. 2011-278 (SB 397). Allows expunction for "non-violent" felonies committed before 18. These are class H or I felonies, except sex offenses, heroin possession, methamphetamine possession, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, assaults, and motor vehicle crimes. To get the expunction, you have to file 4 years after the sentence, complete 100 hours of community service, have a GED or high school diploma, and two personal character references.

Forensics. S.L. 2011-19 (HB 27). Creates the "NC Forensic Science Advisory Board," inside the DOJ (rather than an independent agency, as originally envisioned), to monitor the lab and create protocols. Only allows admission of forensic evidence if completed by an accredited lab. Requires discovery of lab "bench notes."

Intimidating a Witness. S.L. 2011-190 (SB 268). Increases the punishment for intimidating a witness, NCGS 14-226(a), from a Class H to a Class G felony.

New Drug Offenses. S.L. 2011-12. (SB7) Here's to winning the war on drugs!

New Schedule I Drugs:

  • Mephedrone: an amphetamine-like synthetic stimulant.
  • MDPV: a psychoactive stimulant. *Misdemeanor if less than 1 gram.
  • New Cathinone Derivatives: a psychoactive stimulant ("A compound, other than buproprion, that is structurally derived from 2-amino-1-phenyl-1-propanone by modification.
New Schedule VI Drugs:
  • Synthetic Cannaboids: and lists a bunch. My understanding is that this is far from a complete list and new synthetic cannaboids are arising every day.
Possession of <7g is a class 3 misdemeanor (like 1/2 oz of marijuana), <21g is a class 1 misdemeanor (like 1 + 1/2 oz of marijuana), possession of 21g+ is a class I felony.

Creates trafficking counts for Mephedrone, MDPV, and the synthetic cannaboids.

Sex Offender's Can't Be EMS Anymore. S.L. 2011-37 (HB 59). Hope you like being unemployed, homeless, and marginalized. I'm sure that will help with recidivism.

Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Ethen's Law). S.L. 2011-60. (HB 215). Creates offense of 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, AISI, and battery of an unborn child. No requirement is necessary of knowledge that the victim (well, I guess the victim's mother...) was pregnant (except presumably 1st degree murder under non-felony murder theory, defined in the statute as "Willfully and maliciously commits an act with the intent to cause the death of the unborn child").

Notably, 1st degree murder of an unborn child is not punishable by death.

Tampering With Ignition Interlock. S.L. 2011 (HB 761). Makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to tamper with an ignition interlock device. Person convicted of DWIs can be ordered to install an ignition interlock device, which requires the driver to blow in it and verify sobriety before the car will start.

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