• 45°

Criminal record, sentence changes among new North Carolina laws

By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press

New laws began Tuesday in North Carolina that are designed to help more people convicted of lower-level crimes and nonviolent drug trafficking get records cleared or punishments eased.

The “Second Chance Act” and “First Step Act” are among nearly a dozen state laws approved since 2019 by the General Assembly and taking effect fully or partially on Dec. 1. These criminal justice reforms received renewed interest this year following demonstrations against racial inequality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The First Step Act allows a judge to deviate from mandated long prison sentences and hefty fines for drug-trafficking convictions if several conditions are met. A defendant in part has to have avoided violent activity, isn’t a repeat offender and must admit to a drug addiction problem. Supporters say the change will help people with substance-abuse issues avoid long sentences when treatment is what they need. Drug trafficking offenders sentenced before Tuesday now can also ask a judge to ease punishment retroactively.

The Second Chance Act expands the ability of people to get criminal records cleared of lower-level criminal convictions, dismissed charges and “not guilty” verdicts. These and other expunction laws are designed to remove what are deemed as youthful indiscretions that show up in background checks for employment and housing.

Parts of the law taking effect Tuesday allow people with multiple nonviolent misdemeanors to petition a court to have them removed after seven years. It also does give law enforcement agencies the ability to access the records of expunged convictions when making employment decisions about potential officers.

Another law taking effect regulates the use of delivery robots that businesses are already trying out around the world. At least 10 other states already have passed similar authorizing legislation, according to General Assembly staff. The rules would apply to delivery devices that travel on sidewalks and along roadsides. The devices must obey traffic rules, yield to pedestrians and cannot exceed speeds of 10 mph (16 kph) on sidewalks and 20 mph (32 kph) on roadsides.

Someone whose driver’s license was revoked only because the person failed to pay court-ordered fines or costs can now apply for a limited driving privilege permit that lasts up to one year. Another new law is designed to speed up the process for the spouses of military service members who’ve located to North Carolina to obtain occupational licenses.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

First female Senate majority leader elected in North Carolina

Giving back to the sounds by recycling for reefs

News

Man brandishing rifle shot by police in North Carolina

News

North Carolina promises more vaccines for providers hit by shortfalls

News

NC jobless aid office addressing millions in overpayments

News

Man hits two deer with new car, then discovered he hit $2M in lottery

News

Dare County budget amendments aim to help county employees

News

Local photographer sparks debate over mysterious flying object in the night sky

News

Teen sustains life-threatening injuries in Kill Devil Hills crash

News

The magnificent frigatebird, a rare visitor to the Outer Banks

Lifestyles

Dare County Library announces virtual enrichment series

News

Manteo returning to subscription-based recycling service

News

Federal report says pandemic hit seafood industry hard

Hyde

UPDATED: Hyde County man fatally shot while duck hunting Monday afternoon

News

Large-scale events in other parts of NC mean fewer doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Dare and other counties

News

Transition to mass vaccination sites irks NC health systems

Crime

Sheriff: Two North Carolina children abandoned in Mississippi; one dies

Crime

Kill Devil Hills man charged with gun violations

News

Grandma’s lucky numbers win Sampson County woman half of Cash 5 jackpot

News

NC-bound plane returns to gate after being hit by bird during takeoff

News

North Carolina, Catawba tribe ink casino revenue agreement

Currituck

Currituck Extension offers on-demand cooking and food preservation classes

Hyde

Hyde County Schools announces 2020-21 Beginning Teacher of the Year

News

North Carolina field hospital helps fight coronavirus surge

News

New coronavirus variant shows up in North Carolina

News

North Carolina weekly gas price update: Prices down slightly from last week