One argument made in the national conversation about overcriminalization is that too many minor activities are made criminal and that it’s not efficient, effective, or fair to address this activity through the criminal justice system. Additionally it is argued that many low-level crimes—such as panhandling and sleeping in public places—criminalize poverty and homelessness when those issues should be treated as social needs. There is a lot more to the debate about overcriminalization but I’ll stop there.
In trying to get a sense as to how big an issue this is for North Carolina, I decided to look at how many and what types of ordinance violations are charged as crimes in North Carolina. I realize that ordinance violations aren’t the only offenses that warrant examination; I’m just starting with ordinance crimes.