The following are legislative updates from the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA), provided by Executive Director Monika Johnston-Hostler and Staff Attorney Joe Polich.
New Laws Passed – Long Session 2015
Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015 – Session Law 2015- 62
Signed by Governor on June 5, 2015
- Increases wait times and administrative burdens for those seeking and providing abortion services
- Provides for electronic filing of all 50B and 50C proceedings in all counties in North Carolina
- Changes the age definitions for statutory rape crimes in NC from “13, 14, or 15 years old” to “15 years old or younger.”
Joe’s take: Electronic filing is a huge success in pilot counties in North Carolina – including Alamance and Guilford counties. Electronic filing increases access to the civil legal system and streamlines the court proceedings in general. In counties with electronic filing, all parties will leave the hearing with copies of any pertinent orders and those orders will already be filed with the Clerk of Court.
No-Contact Order/No Expiration – Session Law 2015-91
Signed by Governor on June 19, 2015
- Creates Chapter 50D, which provides a non-expiring civil no-contact order for victims of sex offenses that resulted in a criminal conviction
- Violation of a 50D order is an A1 misdemeanor (the most serious misdemeanor charge)
- There are increased penalties for the commission of a felony that violates the order
Joe’s take: the 50D order does not require victims of sexual assault to re-live the experience in open court every year to renew their order. However, the major shortcoming to the new 50D order is that it requires a criminal conviction of the perpetrator, which we know is difficult at best to obtain. On the plus side, these orders “have teeth,” violations carry serious consequences.
Protect Our Students Act – Session Law 2015-44
Signed by Governor on June 2, 2015
- Increases penalties for vaginal intercourse between school personnel who are not teachers, coaches, administrators, or school safety officers and who are less than 4 years older than the student from an A1 misdemeanor to a Class I Felony.
- The punishment for teachers, coaches, administrators and school safety officers remains the same (more serious class G felony)
Joe’s Take: This law still only applies to students and school personnel who are currently at the same school.
Soliciting Prostitution Immunity for Minors – Session Law 2015-183
Signed by Governor on August 5, 2015
- Instead of being treated as criminals, minors who are found participating in sex work will be treated as “undisciplined juveniles” and taken into protective custody. Law enforcement will report the detention to the county DSS.
- The juvenile will also be immune from prosecution for soliciting “as a prostitute.”
Joe’s Take: I’m interested in finding out how this plays out from county to county, particularly in those counties where DSS’s are stretched thin. This is, however, a huge victory for people who are participating in survival sex work or are victims of human trafficking.
Privacy/Protection from Revenge Posting – Session Law 2015-250
Signed by Governor on September 25, 2015
- Makes it a crime to share pictures or video of “intimate parts” or “intimate acts” when the person depicted in the picture/video had a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”
- That “reasonable expectation” is defined so that it must have been shared within the confines of a “personal relationship” as defined by 50B-1(b)
- Punishable by a class H Felony for adults, Class 1 misdemeanor for first offenses for minors. Class H felony for subsequent offenses for minors.
- Effective December 2015
Joe’s Take: This is a good start. The definition of “reasonable expectation of privacy,” by basing it on our 50B statute, exposes two large gaps. Firstly, same sex relationships where the partners do not live together will not be covered. Secondly, “personal relationship” requires some level of romantic involvement. There are many instances of picture/video sharing that does not occur within the context of a relationship defined by 50B.
Clarify Statutory Scheme for Sex Offenses – Session Law 2015-181
Signed by Governor on August 5, 2015
- Reassigns numbers and renames many of our criminal sex offenses
- This is a response from feedback from the judicial branch stating that the names were confusing and had led to prosecutorial mistakes
- Please refer to this chart for a full explanation
NCCASA’s legislative agenda most often comes from member questions and concerns. If you have an idea for a new law or a change to an existing one, please get in touch with them.
NCCASA is currently considering efforts to:
- More reasonably address the issue of consensual teen “sexting” by moving away from charging those who practice it by child pornography charges
- Changing North Carolina’s statutory language in our sex crime statutes so that people who voluntarily drink alcohol until the point of “incapacitation” are included
- Create new state law that provides for a civil court procedure to remove custody rights from fathers who parented their child by rape without requiring a criminal conviction of that father. This would align NC law with provisions of the federal Justice to Victims Of Human Trafficking Act.
- Expand the scope of our new “Revenge Porn” law
- Expand the scope of 50B/50C/50D protective orders so that violence that occurred in other states can be used to justify the granting of a protective order
The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is an inclusive, statewide alliance working to end sexual violence through education, advocacy, and legislation.