Bill Summary for S 199

Summary date: 

Mar 6 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 199 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 6, 2019
AN ACT TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE BY INCREASING PROSECUTORIAL OPTIONS FOR DELAYED REPORTS OF CHILD ABUSE, TO EXPAND THE DUTY TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE, TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ONLINE PREDATORS, TO EXTEND THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR A CIVIL ACTION FOR CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE SO THAT A PLAINTIFF HAS UNTIL AGE THIRTY-EIGHT TO COMMENCE AN ACTION, AND TO REQUIRE TRAINING ON CHILD SEX ABUSE AND SEX TRAFFICKING FOR SCHOOL PERSONNEL.
Intro. by Britt, Harrington, Chaudhuri.

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Bill summary

Part I.

Titles the act as The Sexual Assault Fast Reporting and Enforcement (Safe Child) Act of 2019.

Part II.

Requires a person or institution suspecting that a juvenile has been the victim of a crime to immediately report the case to the appropriate local law enforcement agency in the county where the child resides or is found. Specifies information that must be included in the report and requires the person making the report to provide their contact information. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly or wantonly fail to report the case or to prevent another person from making the report. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

Part III.

Amends GS 15-1, which sets out the statute of limitations for misdemeanors as follows. Requires that crimes of abuse be charged within 10 years of the commission of the crime. Crimes of abuse is defined to mean any of the specified 16 misdemeanors when the victim is under the age of 18. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

Part IV.

Amends GS 14-202.5 to make it unlawful for a high-risk sex offender to intentionally or knowingly access a website with terms of use prohibiting sex offenders from the site, or to intentionally or knowingly use a commercial social networking website to: access a personal webpage or profile for a person the offender knows or should have known is under 16, to contact a person the offender knows or should have known is under 16, falsely pose as being under 16, or join or view online groups that the offender knows or should have known include at least one person under 16 (previously prohibited sex offender from accessing a commercial social networking website where the offender knows that the site allows minors to become members or to create or maintain personal webpages on the social networking website).

For the purposes of this statute, high-risk sex offender is defined as: any person registered in accordance with Article 27A (Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Programs) of GS Chapter 14 who meets any of the following: (1) was convicted of an aggravated offense against a person under 18 years of age; (2) is a recidivist based on a prior conviction for an offense against a person under 18 years of age; (3) was convicted of an offense against a minor; (4) was convicted of a sexually violent offense against a person under 18 years of age; (5) is a sexually violent predator based on a conviction of a sexually violent offense committed against a minor;  (6) was convicted of a violation of GS 14-27.23 (Statutory rape of a child by an adult), GS 14-27.25(a) (vaginal intercourse with another person who is 15 years of age or younger and the defendant is at least 12 years old and at least six years older than the person); GS 14-27.28 (Statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult); GS 14-27.30(a) (engages in a sexual act with another person who is 15 years of age or younger and the defendant is at least 12 years old and at least six years older than the person); GS 14-27.31 (Sexual activity by a substitute parent or custodian), if the victim was under 18 years of age; GS 14-27.32 (Sexual activity with a student), if the victim was under 18 years of age; GS 14-43.11 (Human trafficking), if the victim was under 18 years of age; GS 14-202.3 (Solicitation of child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act), if the victim was under 18 years of age; or GS 14-190.16 (First degree sexual exploitation of a minor), if the victim was under 18 years of age.

Amends the definition of commercial social networking website to include applications, portals, or other means of accessing the internet (in addition to websites) that meet the specified requirements. Amends those requirements to (1) no longer include facilitating the social introduction between two or more persons for the purposes of friendship, meeting other people, or exchanging information; (2) remove reference to linking to other personal websites on the commercial social networking website of the user’s friends or associates that may be accessed by other users or visitors to the site; (3) include providing users or visitors (was, visitors to the commercial social networking site)  a mechanism to communication with others and remove specific references to communicating through e-mail. Amends the exclusions from the definition of commercial social networking website to now only exclude a commercial social networking website that does not include a website that (1) has as its primary purpose the facilitation of commercial transactions, the dissemination of news, the discussion of political or social issues, or professional networking or (2) is owned or operated by a local, State, or federal governmental entity.

Increases punishment for violation of the statute from a Class I to Class G felony. Adds a severability clause.

Makes conforming changes to GS 14-202.5A concerning the liability of commercial social networking sites.

Amends GS 14-208.7 to require the registration form used by sheriffs to include specified information from high-risk sex offenders. Amends GS 14-208.11(a) to make it a Class F felony to fail to provide the registering sheriff with that information.

Effective December 1, 2019.

Part V.

Amends GS 15A-622 to allow an investigative grand jury to be convened for a crime of abuse. Makes a clarifying change. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

Part VI.

Amends GS 15A-623 by adding that a district attorney may issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel a witness or other entity to produce any books, papers, documents, data, or other objects the subpoena designates that relate to the investigation, and requires service by the investigative grand jury officer appointed by the court. Allows the court to direct the witness to produce the designated items in court before trial or before the items are to be offered in evidence. Treats the information as confidential and prohibits disclosure except in connection with a criminal case related to the subpoenaed materials. Sets out the procedure under which the court may quash or modify the subpoena. Allows the judge to proceed in accordance with GS Chapter 5A (Contempt) when a person disobeys a subpoena without adequate excuse. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

Part VII.

Amends GS 1-17, to allow a plaintiff to file a civil action against a defendant for sexual abuse suffered while the plaintiff was under 18 until the plaintiff attains the age of 50. Makes conforming changes to GS 1-52 and GS 1-56. Effective from January 1, 2020, until December 31, 2020, this revives any civil action for child sexual abuse otherwise time-barred under GS 1-52 as it existed immediately before the enactment of this section.

Part VIII.

Includes a severability clause. Provides that prosecutions for offenses committed before the effective date of the 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.

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