We are picking up the discussion about the slate of new laws that went into effect on Dec. 1. The majority of the 35 measures relate to criminal matters, and many have been covered at length by the media as well as in this blog. A couple of examples are Laura’s Law, the law that increases the penalties for repeat DWI offenders, and Ethen’s Law, better known as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
As we said, most of the laws add new crimes or increase penalties. The law we highlighted in our last post — allowing the court to expunge criminal records for some underage offenders — is just one of two that increase protections for suspects or offenders.
The second law grew out of the News & Observer’s (and then the state’s) investigation of the crime lab at the State Bureau of Investigation. One of the chief complaints from defense attorneys was that the lab often failed to turn over evidence favorable to the defendant.
With the new law, investigators must turn over all evidence in a felony case to defense counsel. This must happen even if the prosecutor fails to put in a formal request for the information.
The General Assembly passed the “Run and You’re Done” law as a public safety measure. The law deals with high-speed chases on public roads. We’ve all heard the stories of car crashes that result from such chases; this law is meant to deter suspects from fleeing police by allowing officers to seize a suspect’s car.
We’ll get into the details in our next post.
Source: ABC11/abclocal.go.com, “35 new laws taking effect Thursday in NC,” Gary D. Robertson, Dec. 1, 2011