114 new crimes added to the books last legislative session; citizens are at increasing risk of punishment for accidental infractions
NEW YORK, NY – North Carolina’s expansive and complex criminal code includes many obscure crimes that citizens could commit unintentionally. A new report from the Manhattan Institute finds that North Carolina’s “overcriminalization” problem is only growing worse: 114 new crimes were created in the 2015-2016 legislative session alone, many of which involve ordinary business practices such as the sale of bedding or transfer of money.
The report, by James R. Copland and Rafael Mangual, is an update to a 2014 study that named North Carolina’s criminal code the most expansive in the region (55 percent larger than Virginia’s and 38 percent larger than South Carolina’s). They argue that as it stands, North Carolina’s criminal code is almost impossible for the average person or business owner to navigate.
The authors have long supported the creation of a recodification commission to examine North Carolina’s criminal laws—an idea some legislative leaders have been exploring. The authors also argue that North Carolina should adopt a default criminal-intent standard that would require defendants to have knowingly broken the law in order to receive punishment.