The criminal code of North Carolina consists of thousands of pages scattered throughout general statutes, local ordinances and agency regulations. The records include laws that reach back more than two hundred years ago. Recently, the state legislature has turned its attention on overhauling the criminal code in an effort to make the criminal justice system more effective.

in 2018, the North Carolina legislature began working on the Criminal Law Recodification Working Group bill, which called on state agencies and local units of governments to submit a list of crimes created by their departments. According to the Carolina Journal, the state criminal code is in need of a comprehensive overhaul. The benefits of reform could be far-reaching, making the code clearer and more stream-lined, while working to strengthen other reforms such as occupational licensing and the bail system. The work by lawmakers provided a snapshot of criminal laws in place, but even since then a whole new set of crimes have been placed on the books.

A bill moving forward in the Senate seeks to halt the growth of the state’s criminal code. Provisions in SB 584, according to the North Carolina League of Municipalities, would allow units of government to keep criminal enforcement of their local codes. One important exception does exist. Larger communities must show that all of local government’s ordinances were subject to a criminal penalty. The bill has passed the House and Senate, but has been given an extension for communities to report. One purpose of the bill was to reduce the growth of the state’s criminal code.