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North Carolina Department of Justice and Office of the Attorney General

In North Carolina, the attorney General is elected by people every four years. The attorney general is the state’s top lawyer and senior most law enforcement officer. The duties and authority of the Attorney General is mentioned in the Statues and Constitution of North Carolina.

The constitution of North Carolina was first written in the year of 1776 which is also when the Attorney General’s office was established. In the initial 1800s, the department of Justice was created by the General Assembly, as a part of the Government’s reorganization program.

As per the constitution of the state, the attorney general is given the authorization to practice law in the state courts. Being the head of the Department of Justice in NC, the Attorney General provides advice and legal representation to all the commissions, agencies and departments of the state governments. Public officials can also seek legal opinions from the office of the Attorney General. Also the attorney general handles all the criminal appeals from the trial courts of the State.

The Attorney General has the responsibility to take legal actions when the public interest of the state is at stake. The State bureau of Investigation, that helps the law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes and provides with expert analysis on the details collected from a crime scene, is also headed by the Attorney General.

Technical and training assistance is extended to the law enforcement agencies by the North Carolina Justice Academy. This academy is also part of DOJ. The commissioned staffs employed by DOJ regulate the standards and trainings for the law enforcement agencies.

Responsibilities and Duties of the Attorney General in North Carolina

The people of NC choose the Attorney General to lead the Department of Justice. The statues and Constitution of North Carolina have set specific duties and power for the Attorney General. Following are some of the duties and responsibilities:

  1. In legal matters, the attorney general represents all the commissions, agencies and departments of the state government.
  2. At the request of the Governor, General Assembly or any other state official, the attorney general will provide his or her legal opinion.
  3. The attorney General advises and consults with the county and municipal attorneys, magistrates, district attorneys and judges when assistance is requested and when allowed by the Rules of Professional conduct.
  4. On behalf of the state, the Attorney General could intervene in the proceedings of any bodies or agencies run by the federal or state government, regulatory officers or any of the courts.
  5. May institute court proceeding on behalf of the State, its agencies or its citizens in any and all public interest matters
  6. The attorney General has the authority to institute court proceeding when it comes to the matters of public interest.
  7. All criminal appeals coming from the trial courts of the state are also handled by the Attorney General.

The Office of Attorney General:

  1. Cannot prosecute specific crimes unless the local district attorney would request for the same.
  2. Does not have direct authority over the courts, law enforcement agencies or district attorneys.
  3. Cannot provide legal opinions to private organizations or individuals, except for select cases.

Standards and Trainings for Law Enforcement

The Criminal Justice Education & Training Standards and the NC Sheriffs’ Education and Training Standards regulates the certification and training for juvenile justice officers, correction officers, law enforcement officers and deputies of sheriffs. Both the offices maintain staff at DOJ.

Both the offices meet on a quarterly basis to discuss the topics for training and certification. They also hear to cases of officers or deputies who have violated the rules of the commission. The attorneys of the Department of Justice represent the commissions.

The NC Justice Academy provides training to the law enforcements officers in various topics including supervision, management, self defense, firearms, investigation of traffic crash, investigation of crime, policing as per a community and antiterrorism.

The Law Enforcement Liaison Section of DOJ extends technical assistance and legal guidance to the law enforcement agencies in the state. It also provides legal counsel to the North Carolina Company Police Program, Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, SBI’s Division of Criminal Information and to other commissions in the state.