Carolina Journal Video

Tackling overcriminalization in North Carolina

It’s a bad idea to let a chicken roam free on the streets. Is it an offense worthy of criminal prosecution?

At least one N.C. community thinks so. That “crime” is just one of the more outrageous examples UNC professor Jessica Smith points to when she calls for a complete rewrite of the state’s criminal code. Smith also points to other problems, including the fact that many crimes are scattered throughout the state’s law books, rather than collected in the one chapter of General Statutes devoted to criminal law.

Smith detailed her concerns about overcriminalization during a presentation Monday for the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society. Smith also offered a suggestion for addressing the overly complex and expansive criminal code through a process called recodification.