Attorneys use practice guides in different areas of law as a way to quickly identify the rule of law and its respective authorities from which to craft a legal argument. These guides also help practitioners with the procedural elements and motions requirements of a cause of action.
About North Carolina Crimes: A Guidebook on the Elements of Crime
North Carolina Crimes: A Guidebook to the Elements of Crime (7th ed. 2012), written by Jessica Smith of the North Carolina School of Government, is a single volume, soft cover treatise detailing the elements of the criminal laws in North Carolina. This guidebook only covers the state’s substantive crimes, excluding obscure ones, minor infractions such as traffic offenses, and special offenses related to alcoholic beverage control law and fish and game law. A student, patron or attorney member can locate the call number (KFN7966.8 .N67) of North Carolina Crimes by plugging the following search terms – north carolina crimes – into the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog.
Key Features of North Carolina Crimes
North Carolina Crimes analyzes each criminal offense within its own chapter and divides each into the following four categories: elements, punishment, notes (explanatory points regarding the offense, including case law) and related offenses. State of mind, defenses, and structured sentencing are additional topics discussed in the introductory chapter of each offense. Because the clear and concise layout of the guidebook makes locating and understanding the criminal elements easy, the supervising attorneys and judges, at my externships, consider it an excellent reference guide during trial or at a court hearing. For this reason, North Carolina provides the latest version to all state prosecutors, and most state law enforcement officers and judges keep the guidebook handy at all times, as well. Law enforcement officers refer to North Carolina Crimes when they need to make a quick charging decision about a perpetrator’s alleged criminal behavior; prosecutors use the guidebook when putting their cases together; and judges rely on it when deciding the rule of law or explaining it to a jury. Essentially, North Carolina Crimes helps to keep all of the parties participating in the prosecution of a crime on the same page.
There are several useful ways to search for your topic in North Carolina Crimes. To begin, there is a master table of contents at the front of the book, listing every topic and subtopic with its corresponding page numbers, and an individual table of contents at the beginning of each chapter. North Carolina Crimes also has the following useful indexes: 1) a case index that lists the cited cases alphabetically, 2) a table of statutes that organizes the enacted laws in ascending numerical order, and 3) a subject index that helps the reader navigate to a particular subject or crime.
Researching using North Carolina Crimes
North Carolina Crimes is an excellent place to begin legal research on a criminal issue. For example, suppose you need to understand the difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in North Carolina. Upon consulting the guidebook’s table of contents, you locate the subtopic “manslaughter” within the topic “homicide” and then navigate to the corresponding pages. In North Carolina, manslaughter is a common law crime which means its rule of law stems from state court decisions and not the legislature. The “manslaughter” section highlights the elements for voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and provides an extensive list of on-point cases interpreting the scope of each element. To update the authority, you would then KeyCite with WestlawNext or Shepardize with Lexis Advance.
North Carolina Crimes: A Guidebook to the Elements of Crime uses a simple, easy-to-navigate style to detail and annotate the rule of law of the major North Carolina criminal offenses, making the guidebook an essential tool for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges.
~ Maria Fisichello, L’14 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.