North Carolina Criminal Law Updates for December 1, 2015

North Carolina Criminal Law Updates for December 1, 2015

Effective December 1st, a new batch of criminal laws will go into effect in North Carolina. These include new laws aimed at curbing the abuse of mentally disabled patients, making certain acts of graffiti vandalism a felony and making it a felony to assault a hospital worker who is on the job are among dozens that go into effect in December.

Dec. 1 is typically the date that new criminal laws go into effect. Among the new crimes going in effect this year are:

BURT’S LAW: Senate Bill 445 is named “Burt’s Law” after Burt Powell, a young man with developmental disabilities who was sexually abused over the course of a year by a manager in a nursing home. The measure makes it a crime for any staffer or volunteer in an adult care home for those with mental illness or developmental disabilities to fail to report abuse or physical harm to a resident. Covered individuals must now notify the Division of Social Services, local law enforcement or the local district attorney’s office within 24 hours of the incident.  The legislation also increases the penalties for intentionally injuring residents and for taking their personal property.

SEX ABUSE: House Bill 113 makes it a felony for teachers, coaches and other school personnel who are less than four years older than a victim to engage in sex acts with a student. The new legislation also requires the sheriffs in a county where a college or university is based to “provide a report containing sex offender registry information for any registrant that has stated that they are a student or employee, or expected to become such, of that higher education institution.”

E-LIQUID CONTAINERS: Senate Bill 286 requires that the small vials of fluid that are used in vapor products or electronic cigarettes must have child-proof caps if they contain nicotine. Violating the statute is a Class A1 misdemeanor and makes the violator subject to damages to someone harmed by an improper container.

CONDITIONAL DISCHARGES OF DWI. HB 273 mandates that DWI offenses are not eligible for conditional discharge or expungement. Shea Denning with the School of Government had a very good blog post summary of the legislation that you can read here.

STATE FAIR RIDES: A 2013 accident during the North Carolina State Fair has led to a new law creating penalties for those who tamper with the safety devices on amusement rides. Two years ago, a ride called the Vortex sent five people to WakeMed after, investigators said, the operators of the machine bypassed automatic shutoff switches. The new bill makes ride operators liable for fines and criminal penalties if they are caught doing something similar. Those fines and penalties increase if someone is injured as a result.

DESIGNER DRUGS: House Bill 341 adds 12 “NBOMe” compounds, which are synthetic hallucinogens that mimic the effects of LSD, to North Carolina’s schedule of Schedule 1 controlled substances. Certain variants of Ritalin, a stimulant, would be added to a list of drugs subject to lesser restrictions. NBome is often marketed as “legal” or “natural” LSD. At least 20 people have died from using the substance nationwide. These synthetic drugs are mostly made in China, have no known legitimate purpose, and the chemical companies are constantly altering the compounds to stay one step ahead of the law. You can read the story that served as inspiration for the bill here. You can also read more about the final passage of the bill from the Independent and from WRAL.

LICENSE PLATE READERS: Senate Bill 182 regulates the use of automatic license plate readers by police, sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement agencies. The law prohibits law enforcement from keeping records of when a car passed by a particular location for more than 90 days. The exception would be cases where a law enforcement agencies ask in writing that a particular set of information be retained if they are able to show “reasonable grounds to believe that the captured plate data is relevant and material to an ongoing criminal or missing persons investigation.”

NEW GUN LAWS: House Bill 562 limits the background checks sheriffs can conduct on those applying for a pistol purchase permit, the paperwork needed to buy a handgun for those who don’t have a concealed handgun permit. Under the new law, Sheriffs will be allowed to look at only five years of a person’s history when deciding if they meet the “good moral character” provisions laid out for obtaining a permit to buy a handgun.

REVENGE PORN: House Bill 792 now makes it a felony to post explicit photos or video of anyone without his or her consent if the posting is intended to harass, extort or intimidate the victim. It also gives victims the right to sue perpetrators for damages. The common term for these offenses is “revenge porn” because it is often committed by people who have broken up by those whose pictures and videos they are posting. More from WRAL.

DOCTORS AND MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL GUARD: Two separate bills create new crimes for felony assault. House Bill 691 makes it a felony to assault a member of the National Guard who is discharging his or her official duties. House Bill 560 makes it a felony to assault a doctor or other licensed health care provider who is discharging his or her duties at a hospital.

CYBERSTALKING: Senate Bill 238 adds GPS tracking to the definition of “cyberstalking,” which is a Class 2 misdemeanor under state law. Parents are still allowed to use GPS devices to track their children’s locations, and people can still put GPS devices on their own vehicles, as long as their intent is not to track another adult. However, it is now illegal to use a GPS tracker or similar technology to keep tabs on an adult.

You can view a full list of all legislation going into effect from July 1, 2015 thru January 1, 2016 by clicking here.

Whether you’re charged with possession of NBOMe, illegally using a GPS tracker, or maybe even one of the new e-liquid offenses – GAY JACKSON & McNALLY, LLP is here to provide you with the very best possible legal representation and advice. If you need criminal law representation, call 919-269-2234 or email