NORTH CAROLINA STATE CONSTITUTION

 

PREAMBLE

 

We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.

 

ARTICLE I

DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

 

That the great, general, and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, and that the relations of this State to the Union and government of the United States and those of the people of this State to the rest of the American people may be defined and affirmed, we do declare that:

 

Section 1.  The equality and rights of persons.

We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Sec. 2.  Sovereignty of the people.

All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.

 

Sec. 3.  Internal government of the State.

The people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering or abolishing their Constitution and form of government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness; but every such right shall be exercised in pursuance of law and consistently with the Constitution of the United States.

 

Sec. 4.  Secession prohibited.

This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.

 

Sec. 5.  Allegiance to the United States.

Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.

 

Sec. 6.  Separation of powers.

The legislative, executive, and supreme judicial powers of the State government shall be forever separate and distinct from each other.

 

Sec. 7.  Suspending laws.

All power of suspending laws or the execution of laws by any authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and shall not be exercised.

 

Sec. 8.  Representation and taxation.

The people of this State shall not be taxed or made subject to the payment of any impost or duty without the consent of themselves or their representatives in the General Assembly, freely given.

 

Sec. 9.  Frequent elections.

For redress of grievances and for amending and strengthening the laws, elections shall be often held.

 

Sec. 10.  Free elections.

All elections shall be free.

 

Sec. 11.  Property qualifications.

As political rights and privileges are not dependent upon or modified by property, no property qualification shall affect the right to vote or hold office.

 

Sec. 12.  Right of assembly and petition.

The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.

 

Sec. 13.  Religious liberty.

All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

 

Sec. 14.  Freedom of speech and press.

Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.

 

Sec. 15.  Education.

The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.

 

Sec. 16.  Ex post facto laws.

Retrospective laws, punishing acts committed before the existence of such laws and by them only declared criminal, are oppressive, unjust, and incompatible with liberty, and therefore no ex post facto law shall be enacted.  No law taxing retrospectively sales, purchases, or other acts previously done shall be enacted.

 

Sec. 17.  Slavery and involuntary servitude.

Slavery is forever prohibited.  Involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the parties have been adjudged guilty, is forever prohibited.

 

Sec. 18.  Court shall be open.

All courts shall be open; every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law; and right and justice shall be administered without favor, denial, or delay.

 

Sec. 19.  Law of the land; equal protection of the laws.

No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land.  No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.

 

Sec. 20.  General warrants.

General warrants, whereby any officer or other person may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of the act committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and shall not be granted.

 

Sec. 21.  Inquiry into restraints on liberty.

Every person restrained of his liberty is entitled to a remedy to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the restraint if unlawful, and that remedy shall not be denied or delayed.  The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

 

Sec. 22.  Modes of prosecution.

Except in misdemeanor cases initiated in the District Court Division, no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge but by indictment, presentment, or impeachment.  But any person, when represented by counsel, may, under such regulations as the General Assembly shall prescribe, waive indictment in noncapital cases.

 

Sec. 23.  Rights of accused.

In all criminal prosecutions, every person charged with crime has the right to be informed of the accusation and to confront the accusers and witnesses with other testimony, and to have counsel for defense, and not be compelled to give self-incriminating evidence, or to pay costs, jail fees, or necessary witness fees of the defense, unless found guilty.

 

Sec. 24. (For proposed constitutional amendment see note) Right of jury trial in criminal cases.

No person shall be convicted of any crime but by the unanimous verdict of a jury in open court. The General Assembly may, however, provide for other means of trial for misdemeanors, with the right of appeal for trial de novo.

 

Sec. 24. (Contingent upon approval by voters at 2014 general election see note) Right of jury trial in criminal cases.

No person shall be convicted of any crime but by the unanimous verdict of a jury in open court, except that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in superior court may, in writing or on the record in the court and with the consent of the trial judge, waive jury trial, subject to procedures prescribed by the General Assembly. The General Assembly may, however, provide for other means of trial for misdemeanors, with the right of appeal for trial de novo. (2013-300, s. 1.)

 

Sec. 25.  Right of jury trial in civil cases.

In all controversies at law respecting property, the ancient mode of trial by jury is one of the best securities of the rights of the people, and shall remain sacred and inviolable.

 

Sec. 26.  Jury service.

No person shall be excluded from jury service on account of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin.

 

Sec. 27.  Bail, fines, and punishments.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.

 

Sec. 28.  Imprisonment for debt.

There shall be no imprisonment for debt in this State, except in cases of fraud.

 

Sec. 29.  Treason against the State.

Treason against the State shall consist only of levying war against it or adhering to its enemies by giving them aid and comfort.  No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.  No conviction of treason or attainder shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture.

 

Sec. 30.  Militia and the right to bear arms.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.  Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice.

 

Sec. 31.  Quartering of soldiers.

No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner prescribed by law.

 

Sec. 32.  Exclusive emoluments.

No person or set of persons is entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community but in consideration of public services.

 

Sec. 33.  Hereditary emoluments and honors.

No hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors shall be granted or conferred in this State.

 

Sec. 34.  Perpetuities and monopolies.

Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state and shall not be allowed.

 

Sec. 35.  Recurrence to fundamental principles.

A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.

 

Sec. 36.  Other rights of the people.

The enumeration of rights in this Article shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people.

 

Sec. 37.  Rights of victims of crime.

(1)        Basic rights. Victims of crime, as prescribed by law, shall be entitled to the following basic rights:

(a)        The right as prescribed by law to be informed of and to be present at court proceedings of the accused.

(b)        The right to be heard at sentencing of the accused in a manner prescribed by law, and at other times as prescribed by law or deemed appropriate by the court.

(c)        The right as prescribed by law to receive restitution.

(d)       The right as prescribed by law to be given information about the crime, how the criminal justice system works, the rights of victims, and the availability of services for victims.

(e)        The right as prescribed by law to receive information about the conviction or final disposition and sentence of the accused.

(f)        The right as prescribed by law to receive notification of escape, release, proposed parole or pardon of the accused, or notice of a reprieve or commutation of the accused's sentence.

(g)        The right as prescribed by law to present their views and concerns to the Governor or agency considering any action that could result in the release of the accused, prior to such action becoming effective.

(h)        The right as prescribed by law to confer with the prosecution.

(2)        No money damages; other enforcement. Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating a claim for money damages against the State, a county, a municipality, or any of the agencies, instrumentalities, or employees thereof. The General Assembly may provide for other remedies to ensure adequate enforcement of this section.

(3)        No ground for relief in criminal case. The failure or inability of any person to provide a right or service provided under this section may not be used by a defendant in a criminal case, an inmate, or any other accused as a ground for relief in any trial, appeal, postconviction litigation, habeas corpus, civil action, or any similar criminal or civil proceeding. (1995, c. 438, s. 1.)