A host of new state laws take effect December 1, including a number of criminal justice measures.
Under the act known as Death by Distribution, state prosecutors will be able to hold drug dealers accountable for overdose deaths related to their illicit sales. The new law is part of an effort by state officials to address the opioid epidemic. Prosecutors could charge dealers with murder without having to prove malice. The law raised some concerns that good Samaritans who would otherwise notify authorities about an overdose would be deterred from calling. The law contains a provision granting immunity from prosecution to people in such situations.
Conner’s Law increases the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer with a firearm, more than doubling the maximum sentence for such an offense. The law was named for North Carolina State Trooper Kevin Conner, who was fatally shot by the driver of a pickup truck he pulled over on a highway in Columbus County in October 2018. The prosecutor in Conner’s case is seeking the death penalty against the trooper’s alleged killer.
The law known as Raise the Age also takes effect December 1. North Carolina was the last state in the nation to reclassify 16 and 17-year-old criminal offenders as juveniles. Lawmakers allocated more than $30 million dollars this fiscal year to account for the change's implementation, includng the hiring of more court counselors and the expansion of juvenile detention centers.