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    NC Senate Bill 199 Provides Much-Needed Update to State’s Antiquated Sex Abuse Laws

    January 16th, 2020

    In order to close the legal loopholes that surrounded North Carolina’s definition of rape, both chambers of the NC General Assembly have unanimously passed legislation reforming sexual assault laws. The Bill, known as SB 199, has had widespread bipartisan support.

    Prior to the passage of this new legislation, North Carolina was the only state in the country where it was not considered a crime to continue to have sex with someone after that individual revoked his or her consent. Many called the state’s sexual assault law “archaic.” Luckily, this new legislation aims to improve many things, such as the following:

    Extends the Statute of Limitations

    The new legislation increases the statute of limitations for child sexual assault victims to sue their assailant. Child sexual assault victims (those younger than 18 at the time of the assault) now have until the age of 28 to bring suit.

    Expands Duty to Report

    It is now a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone 18 years or older to willfully fail to report a sex crime against a juvenile. It is also a Class 1 misdemeanor if someone 18 years or older knowingly or willfully prevents someone else from reporting the same. If someone over the age of 18 gains knowledge of a sex crime against a juvenile they must report it to the appropriate local child protective services.

    Requires School Employees to be Trained on Sex Abuse/Trafficking

    All North Carolina school districts are now obligated to choose an employee training program on reporting and preventing child sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

    Prohibits Offenders from Engaging in Online Conduct That Endangers children

    The new law prohibits high-risk sex offenders from engaging in any online conduct that could cause danger to children. In fact, it is now illegal for any high-risk sex offenders to do any of the following online:

    • To communicate with someone that the offender believes to be under the age of 16 years;
    • To contact someone that the offender believes is under the age of 16 years;
    • To impersonate a person under the age of 16 if they have the intent to commit an unlawful sex act with someone that the offender believes to be under the age of 16 years;
    • To use any website in order to gather information on someone that the offender believes is under the age of 16 years; and
    • To use a social networking website in violation of the site’s policy (which must be posted in a reasonable manner so as to be seen by users) banning convicted sex offenders from using the site.

    Bans Attempts to Drug a Person’s Food or Drink

    Implementation of the new law also now makes it unlawful for anyone to drug someone’s food or drink. If a person violates this law, the penalty would be determined by the effect that the substance could have on someone:

    • If the outcome would be mild physical discomfort without a lasting effect, the defendant would be guilty of a Class I felony.
    • For the same situation in which the impact would be greater than mild physical discomfort without a lasting effect, the defendant would be guilty of a Class H felony.
    • Those who violate the provision to abstain from distributing a controlled substance in any schedule of the Controlled Substances Act, they would be guilty of a Class F felony.
    • Any person who knowingly gives away, distributes, sells, etc. any poisonous chemical or compound that could cause serious physical pain, injury, and discomfort would be guilty of a Class C felony.

    Henson Fuerst Can Help

    If you or a loved one suffered abuse as a child or as an adult, Henson Fuerst is here for you. Our experienced North Carolina sexual abuse lawyers will do everything they can to handle your case with compassion and discretion. We’ll work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 919-781-1107 today!