Legislation passed unanimously during the long session makes it a serious crime to destroy or intentionally damage emergency equipment used by first responders.
House Bill 98 automatically imposes a Class 1 misdemeanor charge on someone if they intentionally injure, destroy, remove, vandalize, tamper with, or interfere with machinery, equipment, or vehicles of a local fire department or the North Carolina Forest Service that’s used for fighting fires, protecting property, or protecting human life, like ambulances and other EMS vehicles.
State law already made it illegal to willfully damage another person’s personal property. If the dollar value is under $200, the perpetrator would be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and if the dollar value of the damage is more than that, the charge becomes a more severe Class 1 misdemeanor.
One may recall that in 2015, CNN reported that rioters in Baltimore, MD, looted, ransacked, and set fire to a drug store, and then sabotaged the efforts of responding firefighters by cutting holes in the fire hoses.
According to Thom Goolsby, a former state senator and practicing criminal defense attorney, a misdemeanor “is a criminal violation of the law punishable by no more than six months in jail. Misdemeanors are divided into four categories (A1, 1, 2, and 3), depending on the seriousness of the offense. These cases usually result in detention in the county jail, a fine and/or community service. Possession of drug paraphernalia, DWI and disorderly conduct are examples of misdemeanors.”
In FY 2015-16, 31% of Class 1 misdemeanor offenders received active sentences and 69% received probation; active misdemeanor sentences of less than 180 days are served in local jails and do not require any post-release supervision. The average length of probation imposed for Class I Misdemeanors was 15 months.