New NC crime measures take effect Sunday
Posted November 29, 2013
Updated December 1, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — More than 40 new laws are scheduled to take effect on Sunday, Dec. 1, most dealing with criminal offenses and punishments. Some of this year's list came straight from the headlines.
SHOOT GUN INSIDE/TO INCITE FEAR: In October 2012, 20-year-old Justin Murphy opened fire inside a Walmart in Kernersville, sending terrified shoppers running for cover. No one was injured. Under existing law, Murphy could only be charged with a misdemeanor, so he was able to keep his gun. As of Sunday, firing or trying to fire a gun inside a building will become a felony - and could cost the shooter his or her gun ownership rights.
KILAH'S LAW: Named for Kilah Davenport, a Union County toddler beaten nearly to death by her stepfather, Kilah's Law increases criminal penalties across the board for child abuse, increasing the maximum sentence to 33 years. It also requires child abuse convictions to be clearly labeled as such in criminal records.
CAYLEE'S LAW: Named for Caylee Anthony, the Florida toddler who vanished and was later found dead, Caylee's Law makes it a felony for parents or caregivers to fail to report a missing child to authorities within 24 hours. It also makes it a crime to fail to report child abuse that causes serious injury.
NC SCHOOL BUS SAFETY ACT: It's a story WRAL has brought you too many times recently – schoolchildren hurt or killed at a bus stop when nearby drivers fail to obey the "Stop" arm. Starting Sunday, drivers who pass a stopped school bus will face higher fines and penalties, and can even lose their licenses. The law also encourages school districts to use the money from the higher fines to buy video cameras for buses.
RESPECT OUR FALLEN HEROES: This new law takes aim at Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based religious group that travels the country to stage disruptive protests at funerals, often targeting fallen servicemembers. The state's disorderly conduct law now requires more distance between protestors and a funeral, memorial service, or processional, and it bans protests starting from 2 hours before until 2 hours after such an event. It also makes second and third offenses a felony.
LILY'S LAW: The new measure allows murder charges to be brought against someone who injures a child in utero if the child dies of those injuries after birth. It's named after Lillian, the daughter of Danna Fitzgerald of Mebane. Fitzgerald was 27 weeks pregnant when she was shot in the abdomen by her then-estranged husband. Fitzgerald survived the shooting. The child, Lily, was born, but later died of the injuries she sustained.