September 27, 2021

North Carolina lawmakers approve criminal justice reform bills

2 min read

The North Carolina General Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that would reform a slew of criminal justice laws in the state.

The House approved a criminal reform bill that increases police oversight and requires more screenings for officers.

Senate Bill 300 requires new mental health and wellness training, psychological screenings and FBI criminal background checks for law enforcement officers. It creates an “early warning” system to track and document use-of-force incidents. Officials would be required to create a public database of officers facing suspensions and revocations.

Most notably, if SB 300 becomes law, immediate family members would be able to see video footage within three business days after a serious police incident that results in death or serious injury after a request to the courts. Rep. Marcia Morey, D–Durham, filed an amendment Wednesday that would have eliminated the court process and immediately release the footage with approval from law enforcement officials. The amendment failed.

The House approved SB 300, 100-2. The new version of the bill must be sent back to the Senate for approval.

A bill that would allow more offenses to be removed from a person’s state criminal record is on its way to Gov. Roy Cooper. The Senate voted, 48-0, to approve Senate Bill 301, which allows a person to petition the court to remove a second or third nonviolent crime from their record within 24 months once 20 years have passed since the conviction or sentence completion.

Current law allows people to seek expungement for more than one nonviolent misdemeanor or one nonviolent felony, with some exceptions.

The bill would change vehicle burglary’s classification from a violent felony to a nonviolent felony, making it eligible for expungement. It also clarifies that offenses can be expunged in more than one county if the petitions are filed within a 30-day period.

SB 301 allows a person to get an eligible offense removed from their record if they had a DUI more than five years before filing the petition. DUIs, however, do not qualify for expungement under law.

The law now allows only a prosecutor or the offender to petition the court to expunge a juvenile’s record. SB 301 also would let a private or court-appointed attorney file the petition.

The House unanimously approved SB 301, 115-0, on Aug. 11.

This article was originally posted on North Carolina lawmakers approve criminal justice reform bills

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