New Bill Proposed by North Carolina Legislator Intended to Streamline State Criminal Code

Posted by Blake Caulder | Sep 21, 2017

Overcriminalization is a potent ailment that has infected every level of government across the nation. This proliferation - which has criminalized mundane behavior through the expansion of legislation - has particularly affected residents on a statewide scale. The collective of state residents who attempt to abide by the law in good faith are the demographic most impacted by overcriminalization, as its prevalence has increased rates of accidental crimes by usually law-abiding citizens.

Like many other states, North Carolina's criminal code contains an inordinate amount of crimes. State residents have criticized the ever-growing criminal code, arguing that features such as occupational licensing offenses and other untraditional offenses have become a major contributor in the state's issue of overcriminalization.

Senate Bill 114

In an effort to remedy this issue, North Carolina state representative Dennis Riddell has introduced a tax reform bill called “Create the Criminal Code Recodification Commission,” or SB 114. As its name suggests, SB 114 intends to reach outside the realm of tax reform and modify the state's restrictive criminal code.

According to Riddell, the law is considered one of the first steps in redrafting a “new, streamlined, comprehensive, orderly, and principled criminal code.” Riddell, along with other legislators who are supportive of the bill, claim that the act of committing a crime without being aware the act is a crime is becoming a common phenomenon in the state. They hope that the new bill will minimize the large number of residents who find themselves on the wrong side of the law for actions that, for instance, violate occupational license offenses.

A North Carolina health blogger, Steve Cooksey, fell victim to unknowingly committing an occupational license violation when he answered his reader's questions regarding health and nutrition. The N.C. Board of Dietetics/Nutrition came across his blog and informed that he was breaking the law because he was giving advice but was not a licensed nutritionist. A similar incident happened to Steven Pruner. He sold hot dogs near Duke University Medical Center without a permit and was arrested for it. Although his sentence was suspended, he was placed on unsupervised probation for an entire year - an incredibly harsh penalty for simply selling hotdogs.

While occupational licensing isn't the main focus of the bill, it indirectly addresses this extremely prohibitive system by recommending agencies, administrative boards, and local governments be subject to restrictions when it comes to creating new criminal laws. It also encourages legislators to examine current criminal offenses and determine if they should be reduced to infractions punishable by a fine only.

As of now, it is too early to tell if the bill will pass. Lawmakers on all sides of the political spectrum have expressed conflicting opinions about the bill. It remains in the Senate's Committee on Rules and Operations due to concerns about tax breaks.

Experienced North Carolina Defense Attorneys

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a crime in the state of North Carolina, you should immediately consult with a skilled attorney. The attorneys at Caulder & Valentine are dedicated to protecting the rights of defendants who have been charged with a variety of offenses. Contact them today for a consultation.

About the Author

Blake Caulder

Blake is a North Carolina native who was born in Marion, but grew up in Rutherfordton. While he was truly blessed to be raised in a loving, caring, and stable home, Blake realized at a young age that not everyone had that opportunity and always had a heart to help his friends who were hurting. Upon graduating high school, Blake began working with his father who has a real estate office in Bat Cave, North Carolina, while at the same time, attending Gardner-Webb University. Blake was seeking what direction to go with his career. At the time, the most reasonable thing appeared to be to join his father in his real estate practice. But putting aside the financial aspect and given his passion to help people, Blake wanted to do something that would allow him to take that passion to a whole other level. That's when Blake found the practice of law. Upon graduating from GWU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, Blake was accepted to Elon Law School and was a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. After completing his first year of law school at Elon, Blake transferred to Charlotte School of Law to be closer to home and his wife. As an attorney, Blake genuinely cares about each individual client. His first and foremost goal is to help every client achieve the best possible outcome in their case and he strives to make a difference in their lives. Blake practices in the areas of family law, criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury, and estate planning. While attending law school, Blake acquired significant legal experience in multiple practice areas by interning with both the law firm of Tomblin, Farmer and Morris, PLLC and the legal department of Family Dollar. In addition, Blake defended clients in criminal cases through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic and provided legal services to individuals who were starting businesses through the school's Entrepreneurship Clinic. When not practicing law, Blake loves being involved in the community, participating in the local prison ministry and community service opportunities. He is grateful to have a wonderful wife, Daniella, and they are blessed with two children, Coleman Blake and Candrea Renea.