New laws take effect in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – Many measures that the North Carolina General Assembly approved this year have a start date of Dec. 1st.

From laws designed to protect pregnant women behind bars, to police reform measures, the new laws count up to more than two dozen.

The laws also include how children are prosecuted in juvenile courts and the banning of the “Carolina Squat.”

Some new laws that took effect Wednesday include:

POLICE REFORM

Following recent deadly law enforcement confrontations across the U.S. and amid calls for better transparency and accountability, a new law requires law enforcement officers to report a fellow officer who used apparent excessive force to a superior within three days.

If they killed or injured someone in North Carolina, that will be recorded statewide for the first time in a database. However, the database will not be made available to the public.

Last year in Elizabeth City, frustrations grew as the family of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot and killed by Pasquotank County deputies, couldn’t immediately see the full body camera footage of his shooting death.

The process is changed to allow family members to privately view body camera footage of death or serious injury without a law office’s discretion to refuse the family’s request. It is put before a judge.

PREGNANT WOMEN BEHIND BARS

In county jails and state prisons, correctional officers and sheriff’s deputies cannot shackle expectant mothers. They’re barred from using physical restraints on women serving time or awaiting trial from their second trimester through several weeks after delivery.

The prisoner or inmate also must have time with her newborn at the hospital after giving birth and have regular visits with the baby in certain lower-security prisons once back behind bars.

“CAROLINA SQUAT”

The “Carolina Squat” is when a pickup truck or SUV raises the front end and lowers the rear to create a squatted truck.

The new measure bans it, citing the modification as “hazardous.”

JUVENILE JUSTICE

The new North Carolina minimum age law raises the minimum age a child can be prosecuted in juvenile courts from 6 to 8.

Supporters say the youngest offenders lack the intellectual capacity to understand the juvenile court proceedings and assist in their defense, according to WRAL.

Some 8 or 9-year-olds who commit a serious felony or repeat offenders would still have to go to juvenile court before a judge.

Other laws include tougher consequences for stealing a catalytic converter and also prohibiting the possession of a “skimming device” that people use at an ATM or gas pumps to steal financial information.

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