Bill Summary for H 315 (2021-2022)
|View NCGA Bill Details||2021|
AN ACT TO INCREASE THE PUNISHMENT FOR CERTAIN ARSON OFFENSES; TO AMEND THE OFFENSE OF ARSON OR OTHER UNLAWFUL BURNINGS THAT RESULT IN INJURY TO A FIREFIGHTER, LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, FIRE INVESTIGATOR, OR EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN; TO REQUIRE CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD CHECKS OF APPLICANTS TO FIRE DEPARTMENTS; TO REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO DISCLOSE CERTAIN CRIMINAL CHARGES; AND TO PROHIBIT APPLICANTS CONVICTED OF CERTAIN CRIMES FROM SERVING AS VOLUNTEER OR PAID MEMBERS OF FIRE DEPARTMENTS.Intro. by McNeill, Boles, Saine, Carter.
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Repeals GS 14-60, which made the burning of schoolhouses or buildings of educational institutions a Class F felony.
Enacts new GS 14-62.3 to provide the penalties for wantonly and willfully setting fire to or burning or aiding, counseling, or procuring the burning of any commercial structure, defined as any building or structure that is not designed principally for residential purposes, or its contents. Violations are a Class D felony if the structure was occupied at the time of the burning and a Class E felony if the structure was unoccupied at the time of the burning.
Amends the following statutes to provide for the punishment stated in the statute unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law that provides for greater punishment: GS 14-61 (burning of certain bridges and buildings), GS 14-62 (burning of certain buildings), GS 14-62.1 (burning of building or structure in process of construction), GS 14-62.2 (burning of churches and certain other religious buildings), and GS 14-64 (burning of ginhouses and tobacco houses).
Adds to GS 14-64, which provides for the Class H felony offense of burning ginhouses and tobacco houses, to define ginhouse as any building or structure where cotton is ginned, and tobacco house as any barn, building, or other structure used for curing and aging tobacco. Makes organizational changes.
Amends GS 14-69.3 by adding that a person is guilty of a Class F felony for committing a felony under Article 15 (Arson and other burnings) where a firefighter, law enforcement officer, fire investigator, or emergency medical technician suffers physical injury while discharging (or attempting to do so) their official duties on the property, or proximate to the property, that is the subject of the individual's discharge of their respective duties.
Amends GS 58-79-1 to authorize the Commissioner of Insurance (Commissioner), through the Office of the State Fire Marshal (Office), and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), along with specified local fire departments and authorities (previously, the Director of the SBI through the SBI, the Office and the specified local entities) to investigate the cause, origin, and circumstances of fires, as specified. Makes conforming changes to the statute and to GS 58-79-5 to transfer the previous duties and authorities regarding investigations of the SBI Director to the Commissioner, except maintains that the Director only has the power to make arrests. Makes conforming changes and language gender-neutral. Makes conforming changes to GS 58-79-10 (power in investigations) and GS 58-79-15 (Failure to comply with summons or subpoena).
Amends GS 58-79-40 to authorize the Office to request any insurance company investigating a fire of real or personal property to release any information in its possession relative to that loss. Also requires insurance companies to notify, cooperate with, and provide relevant information to the Office if the company believes the property loss was caused by incendiary means.
Effective October 1, 2021.
Makes the following changes regarding criminal history checks of applicants to and current members of fire departments and emergency medical services required by GS 143B-943. Adds to the crimes included in criminal history any criminal offense set forth in Article 22, Damages and Other Offenses to Land Fixtures, of GS Chapter 14. Makes a technical change to reflect the title change to Article 5A of GS Chapter 14. Adds a new provision authorizing the local Homeland Security director, local fire chief, county fire marshal, or local law enforcement agency requesting the criminal history of an applicant or current member to charge the applicant or current member the fee amount charged by the Department of Public Safety.
Adds a new subsection (d1) prohibiting an applicant from serving in a paid or volunteer position with a dire department if a verified criminal history check reveals a conviction of arson or any felony conviction involving burning or setting fire under Articles 14, 22, or any other Article of GS Chapter 15 (appears to intend Articles 15, Arson and Other Burnings, 22, Damages and Other Offenses to Land and Fixtures, or any other Article of GS Chapter 14). Requires a local Homeland Security director, local fire chief, county fire marshal, or local law enforcement agency to request disclosure of any such pending charges, and upon disclosure or discovery of such charges, deny the applicant a paid or volunteer position. Separates the authorized actions of local fire departments from that of emergency medical services regarding refusal to consent to a criminal history check or use of fingerprints or other identifying information. Mandates that local fire departments deny applicants, and authorizes the dismissal of current members, who refuse to consent to a criminal history record check or use of fingerprints or other identifying information (previously both actions were permitted). Establishes that refusal constitutes just cause for the denial or dismissal. Authorizes local fire departments to extend a conditional offer of the position pending the results of the criminal history record check or final disposition of felony charges disclosed or discovered (previously pending the results of a criminal history check only). Makes conforming and technical changes.
Amends GS 153A-233 to require counties to ensure that any unit of local government or incorporated fire department with whom the county contracts for fire-fighting or prevention services obtains a criminal history record check of any person who applies for a paid or volunteer position providing such services, pursuant to the procedures and evaluations provided in GS 143B-943, as amended.
Amends GS 153A-234, concerning counties, and GS 160A-292, concerning cities, to require the fire marshal or chief to obtain a criminal history record check of any person who applies for a paid or volunteer position with the fire department, pursuant to the procedures and evaluations provided in GS 143B-943, as amended
Applies to applications submitted on or after December 1, 2021.
Provides that prosecutions for offenses committed before the effective date of this act are not abated or affected by this act, and the statutes that would be applicable but for this act remain applicable to those prosecutions.
The act is effective December 1, 2021, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.