Now That Marijuana is Legal in California, Thousands of Prior Convictions Will Be Dismissed

In 2016, California voters passed an initiative which made it legal to possess marijuana for recreational purposes.  That law paved the way for recreational maijuana sales in January 2018.  Last week, in response to that law, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced that his office would be dismissing thousands of marijuana-related convictions dating back to 1975.  As a result, almost 5000 felony convictions and more than 3000 misdemeanor convictions will be reviewed as a result of this decision.

Although this news is great news for for some California residents, the possession of marijuana is still illegal in the State of North Carolina.  Some of the most common crimes related to the possession of marijuana in North Carolina are the following:

Possession of Marijuana less than 1/2 Ounce – Class 3 misdmeanor

Possession of Marijuana greater than 1/2 Ounce up to 1 1/2 Ounces – Class 1 misdemeanor

Felony Possession of Marijuana – Class I felony

Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Marijuana – Class I felony

Of course, these crimes don’t include trafficking marijuana, which involve the possession of larger amounts of marijuana and more serious consequences and penalties.  Under N.C.G.S. 90-95 (h)(1), “any person who sells, manufactures, delivers, transports, or possesses in excess of 10 pounds (avoirdupois) of marijuana shall be guilty of a felony which felony shall be known as ‘trafficking in marijuana’ and if the quantity of such substance involved:

     a.         Is in excess of 10 pounds, but less than 50 pounds, such person shall be punished as a Class H felon and shall be sentenced to a minimum           term of 25 months and a maximum term of 39 months in the State’s prison and shall be fined not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000);

     b.         Is 50 pounds or more, but less than 2,000 pounds, such person shall be punished as a Class G felon and shall be sentenced to a minimum           term of 35 months and a maximum term of 51 months in the State’s prison and shall be fined not less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000);

      c.         Is 2,000 pounds or more, but less than 10,000 pounds, such person shall be punished as a Class F felon and shall be sentenced to a                        minimum term of 70 months and a maximum term of 93 months in the State’s prison and shall be fined not less than fifty thousand dollars                    ($50,000);

      d.         Is 10,000 pounds or more, such person shall be punished as a Class D felon and shall be sentenced to a minimum term of 175 months and a        maximum term of 222 months in the State’s prison and shall be fined not less than two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000).”

North Carolina drug charges involving marijuana  can have varying penalties and consequences depending on the amount of marijuana as well as an individual’s prior record.  If you are charged with a North Carolina drug crime involving marijuana such as Felony Possession of Marijuana, PWISD Marijuana, Trafficking Marijuana or some misdemeanor marijuana charge in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney  with experience handling drug charges.  Please call our office at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to review your drug case involving drug charges and to discuss your options.

 

NEW OPIOID LAW IN NORTH CAROLINA

Over the past several years, there has been an increase in the number of criminal charges related to the abuse and illegal possession of opioid drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.  Studies show that many young people who later used heroin had been previously using some form of opioid medication that is normally obtained by a prescription.   According to research done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse,  nearly 90 percent  of  young opioid drug users “had used opioid pain relievers nonmedically prior to using heroin, and their initiation into nonmedical use was characterized by three main sources of opioids: family, friends, or personal prescriptions.”

As a result, North Carolina has addressed this problem by passing a law that goes into effect on January 1, 2018.  Under the Stop Act, doctors are limited to prescribing five days’ worth of medication for people with acute injuries and seven days’ worth of medication for people who are recovering from a surgery.

Possession of Heroin, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone are all class I felonies in North Carolina.  Although a class I felony is the lowest felony class in North Carolina, an individual charged with a class I felony is subject to a maximum penalty of 24 months in prison.  However, an active prison sentence for a class I felony is not mandatory, depending on the individuals’s prior criminal record.  In fact, based upon North Carolina’s felony sentencing guidelines, many individuals who are charged with Possession of Heroin, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone are also eligible for some form of punishment that does not involve an active prison sentence.

If an individual is charged with Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver (PWISD) Heroin, Oxycodone, or Hydrocone, that individual will then be charged with a class H felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 39 months in prison.  Although a sentence that does not include active prison time is still possible, a conviction for PWISD Heroin, Oxycodone,  or Hydrocodone will likely result in a more severe punishment depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.   Once again, an individual’s prior criminal record will also be considered.  In some instances, an active sentence is mandatory for a class H felony if an individual’s prior criminal record requires the judge to order an active prison sentence.

Finally, depending on the amount of drugs involved, you could also be subjected to a charge of Trafficking.  Trafficking involves possessing larger amount of drugs with the implication that the possession of such a large amount of drugs has occurred by an individual who is somehow engaged in the sale of these illegal drugs.  When an individual is convicted of trafficking, that punishment includes a mandatory active prison sentence, and the potential active prison sentence increases depending upon the amount of drugs that were seized during the arrest.

North Carolina felony drug charges can have serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged with a North Carolina drug crime such as Possession of Heroin or PWISD Heroin in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with a Forsyth County criminal defense attorney.  Please call our office at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to review your case and to discuss your options.

Felony Sentencing: I was charged with a felony. Is it mandatory that I go to jail?

One of the most common questions that I often receive is whether someone who is charged with a felony is required to go to prison.  The simple answer is “no”.  However, the answer is still more complicated that you think.

In North Carolina, individuals who are convicted of felony crimes are subjected to felony sentencing guidelines.  As a result, to determine whether an individual is required to serve an active sentence depends on two factors:  the class of felony and the individual’s prior criminal record.  Therefore, although a judge has a lot of discretion, the guidelines also assist the judge in determining the type of judgment that may be ordered.

For example, felonies in North Carolina range from class A (most serious) to class I (least serious).  All criminal charges are obviously serious matters, but the type of punishment varies greatly from the most serious class A felony (murder) to the lease serious class I felony (possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, etc.)

After determining the class of felony, it is then necessary to determine the individual’s prior criminal record.  For certain prior convictions, an individual will receive certain points, and those points will ultimately determine the individual’s record level for sentencing purposes.  The judge will then consider the felony conviction and the record level and issue a judgment based on the felony sentencing guidelines.

A felony conviction in North Carolina carries serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged with a North Carolina felony in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with a Forsyth County criminal defense attorney to represent you.  Please call our office at (336) 725-6559 to speak with an experienced and aggressive Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney.

 

NBA Player Charged with Reckless Driving

For the second time in ten years, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been charged with reckless driving. In 2007, he was also charged with reckless driving, and one of his friends died in that incident. In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty, and as part of his sentence, he was ordered to serve 24 days in jail and to perform 500 hours of community service.  In his most recent charge, Smith has pleaded not guilty.

In North Carolina, reckless driving can also have serious consequences. Although an active sentence is unlikely in most circumstances, this charge is a class 2 misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail. In addition, a conviction for reckless driving will result in four DMV points and a likely increase in your insurance rate.

If you are charged with reckless driving in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced North Carolina traffic attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem traffic attorney, with experience in North Carolina traffic law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all of your possible defenses are being asserted.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem traffic lawyer to assist you.  Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Penalty for Unnecessary Roughness: Panthers Fan Charged with Simple Assault

The manner in which the Carolina Panthers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles was ugly.  However, the conduct displayed by one Panthers fan during the game was even worse.  During the game last Thursday, Kyle Maraghy was caught on tape punching another fan.  As a result of that conduct, Maraghy was later arrested and charged with simple assault.

In North Carolina, simple assault is a class 2 misdemeanor.  As a result, the maximum punishment for this crime is an active jail sentence of 60 days in jail.  By comparison, the crime of simple assault carries the same maximum punishment as carrying a concealed weapon, resisting/delaying a public officer, and disorderly conduct.

If you are charged with simple assault in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal law attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense lawyer, with experience in North Carolina criminal law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all of your possible defenses are being asserted.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal attorney to assist you. Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Have you previously been denied an expunction in North Carolina? Now, you may be eligible.

A criminal conviction has lasting consequences, and there are many people who could dramatically improve their lives if they were able to expunge a previously dismissed criminal charge or a prior criminal conviction from their criminal record. However, due to a new law in North Carolina, some of those people will now receive the relief and assistance they have been so desperately seeking. On December 1, 2017, new expunction laws in North Carolina will take effect that will provide broader relief for people who are looking to have their criminal records expunged. Although many people will remain ineligible for an expunction, the new law will be quite beneficial in two meaningful situations.

First, under current North Carolina law, North Carolina General Statute 15A-146 allows for one expunction for charges which are either dismissed or where there is a finding of “not guilty”. As a result, if a person is charged with multiple offenses which are later dismissed or there is a finding of “not guilty”, that person is prevented from expunging multiple offenses unless these offenses “occurred within the same 12-month period of time or if the charges are dismissed or findings are made at the same term of court”. However, under the new law, an individual will now be entitled to an unlimited number of expunctions whenever a charge is dismissed or there is a finding of “not guilty”.

Consider the following scenario:

A defendant was charged with Possession of Marijuana Less than 1/2 Ounce, a class 3 misdemeanor, on January 1, 2014. After a trial, the defendant was found “not guilty”. For the purpose of this hypothetical scenario, let’s imagine that the same defendant was then subsequently charged with Misdemeanor Larceny, a class 1 misdemeanor, on March 4, 2016. Let’s also imagine that his larceny charge was dismissed six months later after the defendant successfully completed the Deferred Prosecution Program.

Under the current law, the defendant in the previous scenario would be forced to choose which charge he would want to expunge from his criminal record. However, under the new North Carolina expunction law, the defendant will able to expunge both charges from his criminal record and still be able to expunge any future charges that are either dismissed or where there is a finding of “not guilty”.

The second situation in which the new North Carolina expunction law will be more beneficial involves individuals who are trying to expunge a prior criminal conviction. Expunging a criminal conviction in North Carolina is more difficult than most people realize because it depends on the type of crime which led to the conviction, the amount of time that has passed since the conviction occurred, a person’s age at the time of the offense, and whether there have been other criminal convictions. North Carolina General Statute 15A-145 allows for expunctions for certain misdemeanors if the offense was committed prior to the individual’s 18th birthday and for some additional misdemeanors that were committed prior to the individual’s 21st birthday. N.C.G.S. 15A-145 remains unchanged by the new expunction law.

The new expunction law, however, directly addresses which convictions are eligible for expunction under North Carolina General Statute 15A-145.5. Under current North Carolina law, N.C.G.S. 15A-145.5, certain non-violent felonies and misdemeanors are eligible to be expunged regardless of the person’s age at the time of the offense.  For those qualifying misdemeanors, the new law reduces the waiting period to file for the expunction from 10 years to 5 years. For those qualifying felonies, the new expunction law reduces the waiting period to file for the expunction from 15 years to 10 years. For both situations, however, that filing period does not begin until “after the date of the conviction or when any active sentence, period of probation, and post-release supervision has been served, whichever occurs later”.

To illustrate how the new expunction law, as opposed to the current expunction law, would apply to some qualifying criminal offenses, please consider the following hypothetical scenario:

On October 15, 2002, a defendant was charged with Felony Larceny, and the defendant was over the age of 18 at the time of the offense. The defendant pleaded guilty to that felony in Forsyth County District on December 2, 2002. As a result, the judge sentenced the defendant to supervised probation for 24 months, and the defendant successfully completed the probation. Therefore, the December was released from probation in December 2004. Let’s assume for the purpose of this hypothetical situation that the defendant did not have a prior record prior to this charge, and the defendant has not been charged or convicted of any subsequent criminal offenses.

Under current North Carolina expunction law, the defendant in the above-referenced scenario would not be eligible for an expunction of this conviction until some time in December 2019 – fifteen years after his probation has ended. However, with the new North Carolina expunction law reducing the filing period to 10 years for prior qualifying felony convictions, that defendant will be eligible to petition for his record to be expunged on or after December 1, 2017.

The changes to our current law are promising because this law will now benefit countless people and finally allow them to move past the hindrance that is often caused by not having a clean criminal record.  Hopefully, this change in our North Carolina expunction law is the first of many changes that will provide even greater expunction eligibility for more people who are seeking to have their record expunged in North Carolina.

If you are interested in having your record expunged in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties in North Carolina, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal expunction attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem expunction attorney, with experience in North Carolina expunction law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all possible expungement opportunities are being considered.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem expunction lawyer to assist you.  Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 

Tiger Woods Pleads Guilty to Driving While Impaired

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Tiger Woods’ charge of Driving Under the Influence will be dismissed as long as he complies with the terms of his diversion program. Although some states (and specifically counties) offer a diversion program for charges of Driving While Impaired (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence DUI), there are many states such as North Carolina that don’t have diversion programs for a charge that are designed specifically for impaired driving.

A Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge is about more that you blood alcohol content.  The investigating officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle as well as probable cause to arrest you.  If you are charged with Driving While Impaired in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem DWI attorney, with experience in North Carolina DWI law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all of your possible defenses are being asserted.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem DWI lawyer to assist you.  Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Revenge Porn: It’s Classless and Illegal

With the advent of cell phones with cameras and the increasing popularity of social media, acts of revenge against ex-spouses, ex-girlfriends, and ex-boyfriends have become more widespread. Unfortunately, it has become more commonplace for people to commit these acts of revenge by displaying nude and/or sexually explicit images of their ex on the internet. This form of revenge is known as “revenge porn”, and it has been a hot topic lately due to Rob Kardashian allegedly posting nude images of his ex-girlfriend, Blac Chyna.

To combat these acts of “revenge porn”, most states have enacted laws, and generally these laws makes it a crime to disclose private, sexually explicit images of another person without that other person’s consent. Just in case you’re wondering, North Carolina also has a law addressing “revenge porn”, and that law has recently been amended to include even more scenarios.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a North Carolina crime in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to represent you.  A Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney, with experience in North Carolina law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected.  If have been charged with a  crime in North Carolina, please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal defense lawyer to assist you.  Our office which is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

North Carolina Finally “Raises the Age”

Beginning in December 2019, 16-year-old and 17-year-old offenders in North Carolina, who have been charged with North Carolina crimes, will now resolve their cases in the juvenile system for all misdemeanor and some low-level felony crimes.  North Carolina was the only state still charging juvenile offenders as adults in the criminal justice system.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a North Carolina crime in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to represent you.  A Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney, with experience in North Carolina law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected.  If have been charged with a  crime in North Carolina, please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal defense lawyer to assist you.  Our office which is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Possible Change to Carrying a Concealed Weapon in North Carolina

Under current North Carolina (N.C.G.S. 14-269), it is a class 2 misdmeanor to carry a conceal gun without possessing a concealed carry permit.  A second or subsequent offense, shall result in a Class H felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 39 months in prison.  Currently however, a bill to eliminate this concealed carry permit requirement has passed through the North Carolina State House, and this bill is now being considered in the North Carolina State Senate.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon or some other North Carolina crime in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to represent you.  A Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney, with experience in North Carolina law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected.  If have been charged with a  crime in North Carolina, please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense lawyer to assist you.  Our office which is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.