NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

New Laws starting December 1, 2013

For a list of all bills that passed and have or will become law from July 1st, 2013 to January 1st, 2014, click here

A number of laws passed during the 2013 North Carolina Legislative Session will take effect on December 1, 2013.

New and more severe punishments for adults who abuse or endanger children or who fail to report malice against them are among more than 40 pieces of legislation about to take effect in North Carolina. Other laws enforced starting December 1 will reduce potential punishments for misdemeanors labeled the least likely to require incarceration — changing from community service or probation to a fine in most cases.

Child abuse/endangerment:

One law would more than double maximum prison terms for the most serious child abuse charge from roughly 15 years to 33 years. Another requires that parents alert authorities when they neither know the location of their child under 16 nor have had contact with the child for 24 hours. Failing to do so will be a low-grade felony, with no jail time on a first offense. The two laws are named for preschoolers. One is Kilah Davenport of Concord, who authorities say was severely beaten in May 2012. The other law is in memory of Caylee Anthony, the Florida girl whose disappearance went unreported by her mother for a month in 2008. In the aftermath of the Anthony case, many states passed laws similar to the one that the North Carolina General Assembly approved this year and Governor Pat McCrory signed. North Carolina didn’t have an exact time period after which a parent was required to report a missing child to authorities, a bill sponsor of “Caylee’s Law” said. “The real driving force behind this legislation was the overwhelming number of communications by constituents who were outraged,” said Rep. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston.

The legislature also voted to require a minimum $500 fine for motorists convicted of passing a stopped school bus picking up or dropping off students. A driver who hits a child will face a felony charge and a $1,250 minimum fine, rising to at least $2,500 if the collision results in death.

Other new laws would increase punishments for those who make methamphetamine when children are present and require those convicted of human trafficking to register as sex offenders if the victim was under 18.

Reduced punishments for misdemeanors:

The state is reclassifying 25 misdemeanor crimes that rarely result in incarceration and reducing them to the lowest grade of misdemeanor or an infraction, making them punishable only by a fine, according to state budget documents. They include speeding 15 mph over the speed limit or in excess of 80 mph, failing to carry a valid license while driving, fishing without a license and writing worthless checks under $2,000. All crimes ranked in the lowest category of misdemeanor will now result only in a fine — a $200 maximum — unless the person has at least three prior convictions. Budget-writers reduced $2 million from the Office of Indigent Defense Services for handling these cases, saying legal counsel isn’t required when no incarceration is possible.

Other new laws taking effect December 1 will:

  • Allow districts to enter into agreements with local law enforcement agencies to provide volunteer school resource officers for security on school campuses. The effort is part of a broad school safety program approved in the state budget.
  • Make clear that authorities can charge someone with murder if the death of a child was caused by injuries suffered in the womb even if the death occurs after delivery.
  • Make it a crime for someone to drive an ambulance, fire truck or police vehicle while drinking or while alcohol remains in the driver’s body.
  • Exempt someone from laws prohibiting the possession of needles or other sharp objects considered drug paraphernalia if the person tells a police officer or sheriff’s deputy about to search him that he is carrying those items. The exception is designed to prevent an officer from punctures that could lead to communicable diseases.
  • Increase the fines for parking unlawfully in a private lot from $100 to $150, but the law only applies in several of the state’s largest counties and cities by population.
  • Create the felony criminal offense of shooting a gun within an enclosed area to incite fear.
  • Increase maximum penalties against companies that violate agriculture seed marketing and ingredient rules to $10,000 from $500.
  • Increase the distance and length of time that protesters at a funeral must stay from mourners and a service.
  • Create a “wildlife poacher fund” designed to pay rewards to people who provide tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of those who commit major wildlife-related crimes. The fund will be paid for with higher fines from wildlife and boating law violations.
  • Make it a felony to escape from a county jail if the escapee originally was held on a felony. The previous law required the prisoner to have been convicted of a felony to make the escape a felony, too.

(Gary D. Robertson, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 11/23/13).


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This entry was posted on November 27, 2013 by in Advocacy and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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