A new set of laws are set to take effect Tuesday, Aug. 1, in North Carolina. Among them is S.B. 626, Modify Human Trafficking and Rioting Laws, which includes a provision that allows more human-trafficking victims to collect compensation under the Crime Victims Compensation Act.
Victims can now be compensated if crimes they committed while being trafficked were “contributory misconduct under duress.” The Crime Victims Compensation Act previously prohibited victims from receiving compensation if they were participating in a felony at the time.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, North Carolina ranks 12th in the nation for incidents of human trafficking, with nearly 25% of the cases reported involving minors.
Unanimously approved by both chambers of the NC General Assembly, Senate Bill 626’s compensation provision went into effect when Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill on June 30.
SB 626 also adds language specific to human-trafficking offenses to certain NC General Statutes provisions and stiffens the penalties for rioting or inciting a riot. Those provisions in the bill go into effect Aug. 1 and Dec. 1, 2023.
The act makes additions to N.C. General Statutes Chapter 50D starting on Aug. 1, including allowing human trafficking victims to apply for and receive “permanent civil no-contact order[s]” against individuals found guilty of human trafficking offenses. Chapter 50D previously did not have any language specific to human trafficking victims.
Recommended by the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission, the legislation also expands upon current language defining individuals guilty of sex trafficking offenses, adding people “who patronizes or solicits another person who would otherwise be a victim” of sex trafficking.
The NC Senate’s proposed budget released in April directs $20 million over two years to the NC Housing Trust Fund to provide shelter to human-trafficking victims, among other groups.
The bill’s anti-riot clauses increase the severity of a felony for those participating in a riot, including for those who incite a riot that causes more than $2,500 in damage or “is a contributing cause of a riot in which there is a death.” Those provisions become law on Dec. 1.
A bill that shortens the time a learner’s permit holder can obtain a limited provisional license from 12 to six months also becomes law. Gov. Roy Cooper allowed SB 157, Limited Provisional License Modification, to become law in May without signing it.
“For years, NC’s graduated drivers license process has significantly improved safety for all motorists, however, this legislation passed by a large margin because it should help reduce the waiting time for young people wanting their license,” Cooper said in May in a prepared statement. “I have concerns that this law could make our roads less safe, and I encourage the Division of Motor Vehicles and the legislature to monitor its effects closely.”
The other major change in the bill was allowing teen drivers to transport an additional passenger under limited circumstances. Current state law allows for the teen driver to transport only one passenger under age 21 who is not an immediate family member. No additional passengers are allowed if the driver is transporting any family member under age 21.
The bill changes that by allowing the teen driver to exceed the old limit if a single additional passenger under age 21 is not a family member but “is a student being driven directly to or from school.”
Other bills becoming law include SB 91, Amend Rule 4/Acceptance of Service, which makes it a Class A1 misdemeanor, the most serious misdemeanor in North Carolina, for anyone who participates in or coordinates a street takeover, including things like racing, burnouts, and “doughnuts.” Fines start at $1,000. Police will have the authority to seize vehicles, as well.
Finally, HB 193, AOC Ct Changes/Amd Expunction, allows for changes to the courts, including allowing the increase of lobbyists for the Conference of District Attorneys from one to as many as four.