In North Carolina, Criminal Matters Dominate List of New Laws P3 - Sparrow Law Firm

We are continuing a brief rundown of new laws that went into effect on Dec. 1. As we mentioned in our last two posts, the laws cover a lot of ground. North Carolina now has stiffer penalties for DWI repeat offenders and allows the court to expunge the criminal records of some offenders under age 18. When we left off, we were discussing the “Run and You’re Done” law.

The law requires first that there be a chase and, second, that the suspect be charged with a felony. The felony charge authorizes the sheriff to seize the vehicle. If the suspect is convicted of the crime, the sheriff may sell the car. (The law does include exceptions for teens who have no record and who are driving a family member’s car.)

Yet another law allows a homeowner to shoot an intruder — with a lawfully-owned weapon — if the homeowner believes he is in danger of serious bodily harm, including death. The law no longer requires the shooter to justify his actions; instead, he is presumed to be exempt from criminal or civil liability.

The General Assembly was moved by the death of Zahra Baker to pass another law. The 10-year-old was murdered and dismembered last year. Under the new law, it is a crime to dismember a body to hide a possible crime or to hide evidence of an unnatural death.

Criminal defense attorneys also noted a law that affects offenders after they are released from prison. In the past, only the worst offenders were subject to probation after release. A new law broadened the measure to impose probation on all offenders for at least nine months but no longer than a year following release.

With the new laws and the increased penalties, it makes sense for anyone accused of a crime to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Source: ABC11/, “35 new laws taking effect Thursday in NC,” Gary D. Robertson, Dec. 1, 2011