CANADA HAS LEGALIZED MARIJUANA. NORTH CAROLINA? NOT YET

The debate about the legalization of marijuana remains one of of the most polarizing issues affecting the criminal justice system. Based upon legislation that went into effect earlier this week, marijuana is officially legal in Canada with some restrictions. Marijuana is also legal in America in some states, but North Carolina is not one of them.

In North Carolina, the felony of possession of marijuana is a class I felony with a maximum possible sentence of 24 months in prison. Possession more than 1/2 ounce up to 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana is a class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail. Possession of marijuana less than 1/2 ounce is class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 20 days in jail.

North Carolina drug charges, such as possession of marijuana, have serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged in Winston-Salem with  a North Carolina drug crime such as misdemeanor possession of marijuana, felony possession of marijuana,  (PWISD marijuana), or trafficking in marijuana 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 with knowledge about drug charges to review your case and to discuss your options.

COMEDIAN KATT WILLIAMS CHARGED WITH ASSAULT

Last week, Comedian Katt Williams was charged with allegedly assaulting a man who was hired to drive him to a performance in Portland.  According to the Port of Portland police, Williams was charged with assault in the 4th degree, which is a class A misdemeanor.  Based upon Oregon law, the maximum penalty for this charge is a sentence of one year in jail.

So let’s consider the possible result if Williams was charged under similar circumstances in North Carolina.  Under North Carolina law, a simple assault is a class 2 misdemeanor.  As a result, the maximum punishment is 60 days in jail, although a probationary sentence would also be a possibility depending on the defendant’s prior criminal record.

A charge of simple assault is a serious North Carolina criminal charge with significant penalties and consequences and a lot of issues that must be analyzed and considered.   Therefore, if you are charged with simple assault or some other some other assault charge such as assault on a female or assault with a deadly weapon in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense 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, if any, are being asserted.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney to assist you. Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

EX-WIFE OF FORMER NBA PLAYER IS COMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL FOR HIS MURDER

In 2010, former NBA player Lorenzen Wright was found shot to death in Memphis.  For several years, there were no arrests, and it appeared that this crime would remain unresolved.  However, in December 2017, two people were indicted for his murder.  One of those people was Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Wright.

After her mental competency was questioned in August 2018, a doctor confirmed has since confirmed that she is competent to stand trial for her charge of first-degree murder.  No trial date has been set.

“How long do I have to settle my personal injury case?”

WINSTON-SALEM PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER – STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

I often receive phone calls when someone has been injured in an automobile accident in North Carolina and wants to pursue their rights through a  personal injury claim based upon those injuries.  Sometimes, it involves a situation where an insurance adjuster is trying to convince them to settle their personal injury case just days after the accident.  What I realize is that many people have never been involved in a car accident, and therefore they are not aware of all the rights they have with respect to a personal injury case.  One of the most frequently asked questions is the time frame involved with resolving a personal injury case.  Under the law, we refer to this time period as the statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations is a law which refers to the time period or time limit in which a legal action must either be filed or settled for certain types of claims.

For example, in North Carolina the statute of limitations for North Carolina personal injury claims is three years from the date of incident.  For North Carolina wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is even shorter.  Under North Carolina law, North Carolina wronful death claims have a statute of limitations of two years.

The following hypothetical scenario clarifies the statute of limitations for a North Carolina personal injury claim:

On September 15, 2016, Negligent Ned  runs a red light, colliding into the car being driven by Careful Carla.  As a result of the accident, Carla suffers numerous painful injuries.  Based upon North Carolina law and the statute of limitations for North Carolina personal injury claims, Carla must either file a lawsuit or settle her North Carolina personal injury claim no later than September 15, 2019.  If Carla has not settled her claim by that date or has not filed a lawsuit by September  15, 2019, she will have most likely lost her ability to recover damages for her North Carolina personal injury claim.

If you are injured as a result of an automobile accident, you need an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney with both the compassion and knowledge to handle your North Carolina personal injury claim.  We will focus on all of the issues that need to be considered for your claim, which allows you to focus on the thing that is most important to us – you getting better and feeling better.  Therefore, if you are are the unfortunate victim of a car accident, and you want to know your rights for a car accident that occurred in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney to handle your North Carolina personal injury case.   An experienced Winston-Salem personal injury attorney, with experience in North Carolina personal injury claims and North Carolina personal injury law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that all of your claims for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.  are being considered and asserted.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation with a Winston-Salem personal injury lawyer to assist you.  Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  However, if your injuries are so severe that you cannot come to our office, please give us a call, and we will come to you.

 

 

 

NASCAR CEO CHARGED WITH DWI AND DRUG POSSESSION

Earlier this week, NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France was charged in New York with Driving While Impaired (DWI) and possession of a controlled substance.  According to the police report, France was stopped for failing to stop at stop sign.  The subsequent investigation determined that France was driving in an impaired condition, and a subsequent search resulted in the police discovering France in possession of oxycodone pills.  France’s DWI charge is actually charged as aggravated driving while impaired, and this charge only occurs in New York when an individual’s blood alcohol content is 0.18 or higher.

Both of these charges are pending in New York, but what would happen if France was charged with possession of oxycodone and DWI in North Carolina?  First of all, similar to North Carolina, both of France’s charges would be misdemeanor offenses based upon the facts and circumstances of his case.  In North Carolina, the possession of oxycodone becomes a felony offense when the possession involves more than 100 pills.  France was found in possession of five pills, therefore he would be charged in North Carolina with a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of 120 days in jail.  With respect to the  charge of DWI, France’s sentence and judgment would depend on a number of factors.  Most of the time, without some type of grossly aggravating factor, an individual’s first conviction for DWI will not result in an active jail sentence.  However, one of the consequences for a DWI conviction is a one-year suspension of the drivers license, but it is also possible to immediately petition the court for a limited driving privilege on the day of conviction as long as certain requirements are met under North Carolina law.  France, however, was charged with aggravated driving due to what appears to ban alcohol content of 0.18 or higher.  Therefore, under North Carolina law, France would not immediately qualify for a limited driving privilege.  In fact, under North Carolina law, whenever an individual is convicted of DWI with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher, that individual is not allowed to obtain a limited privilege until 45 days after the DWI conviction.  In addition, a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher also requires that an interlock device be installed in the vehicle as one of the conditions of obtaining a limited driving privilege.

A Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge is a serious charge with significant penalties and consequences and a lot of issues that must be analyzed and considered.  The investigating officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle as well as probable cause to arrest you.  Drug charges are also serious cases with lasting ramifications that can affect you for the rest of your life.  Therefore, if you are charged with Driving While Impaired or a misdemeanor drug charge in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced North Carolina DWI attorney and criminal attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem DWI attorney, with experience in North Carolina DWI law and 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 lawyer to assist you.  Our office is located for your convenience in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“My charge was dismissed. Why is it still on my criminal record?”

NORTH CAROLINA EXPUNCTIONS

I’ve been a lawyer for almost 20 years, and one of the most commonly asked questions is why a dismissed criminal charge is still showing on an individual’s criminal record.  During those nearly twenty years of experience, I realize that the law regarding North Carolina expunction law is one of the most misunderstood areas of North Carolina criminal law.

Many people incorrectly believe that their criminal charges are automatically removed from their criminal record when they are found not guilty of those criminal charges or if those charges are dismissed.  In some states, criminal charges that do not result in a conviction are automatically removed from the criminal record.  North Carolina, however, is not one of those states.

So what exactly does it mean when you are charged with a North Carolina crime but not convicted?  It means that if you are applying for a job, an apartment, or even filling out a college application, you are able to answer that you were not convicted of a crime.  However, what it also means is that if a criminal record is reviewed, and an expunction has not occurred, the person, agency, or entity conducting the criminal record check will be able to see the original charges.  In some instances, even when a conviction has not occurred, the criminal charge itself may negatively influence the person who is reviewing your record.

For example, one of my former high school classmates was sharing an apartment with her boyfriend.  One day while she was at work, and her boyfriend was home, the police came to her apartment and ultimately arrested her boyfriend for several North Carolina felony drug charges.  Although she was not home at the time of the arrest, her name was on the lease, and she was also charged with several North Carolina felony drug charges.  Her charges were later dismissed, but she never sought an expunction.

Years later, while applying for a job, she was interviewed and subsequently asked about criminal charges that were discovered during her criminal background check.   Because the charges had been dismissed, she believed that no one would be able to see those dismissed charges.  In addition, I am certain that the person interviewing her wanted to know why she was ever charged in the first place.

My friend’s situation is the perfect illustration of why charges, even when they have been dismissed, can still have an impact.  Therefore, if you have been charged with a North Carolina crime that has been dismissed or there has been a finding of not guilty, I encourage you to speak with a North Carolina criminal attorney with experience in North Carolina expunction law.  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.

 

 

“My license has been indefinitely suspended. What can I do to get my license back?”

Perhaps you have received THAT letter – the one from the DMV which says your license is scheduled for an indefinite suspension.  What has caused you to receive this letter, and what should be your next step?

For most people, the indefinite suspension happens for two reasons:  (1) you failed to appear (FTA) at your scheduled court appearance for a a North Carolina traffic offense or (2) you failed to comply (FTC) with the monetary obligations for a North Carolina traffic ticket that was previously resolved.

Your failure to appear or your failure to pay can have serious consequences which lead to the suspension of your license.  What most people don’t realize, however, is that your North Carolina license isn’t immediately suspended for either reason.  For example, when you initially miss your scheduled court appearance, your ticket is marked as “called and failed”.  As long as your ticket is rescheduled within 20 days, the DMV will not be notified, and thus, you will never get the dreaded, aforementioned letter.

The problem is that most people do not reschedule their North Carolina traffic ticket within 20 days, which then leads to the DMV being notified, and a “failure to appear” being entered.   At that point, their license is still not suspended, however they must now resolve the case within 60 days.  Otherwise, their license will be suspended at 12:00 a.m. on the 60th day.

What I have discovered is that many people confuse resolving the case with rescheduling the case.  As a result, they have the mistaken belief that rescheduling the case halts the suspension process.   Once the “failure to appear” is entered, the case must be rescheduled, disposed, and all applicable court costs, fine, and fees must be paid prior to the date and time indicated in the DMV letter.

The process for suspension is similar when North Carolina traffic tickets are not paid in a timely manner.  Once the speeding ticket or other North Carolina traffic offense is resolved, you must pay the ordered court costs, fine, and applicable fees by the ordered compliance date.  Normally, if you fail to pay within 20 days of that compliance date, the DMV will be notified and a “failure to comply” will be entered.  Once again, the DMV will send a letter of notice which indicates that the person’s North Carolina license will be suspended unless the total amount due is not paid within 60 days.  Once the “failure to comply” is entered, an additional fee of $50.00 will be owed.

Therefore, if your North Carolina license is suspended, or if you have received a North Carolina speeding ticket or some other type of citation for a North Carolina traffic offense, your best option is to call an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about North Carolina speeding and traffic tickets.  By hiring an attorney, you may be able to have this case resolved without ever appearing in court.  In addition, you don’t have to worry about missing work to appear, and your attorney will appear to make sure that you don’t receive a failure to appear.

An experienced 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.

Woman Sentenced to Eight Years for Smuggling Cocaine on Cruise Ship

Melina Roberge was traveling around the world, and documenting her extravagant lifestyle by posting pictures on Instagram. Her Instagram followers, however, probably had no idea that she was funding this lifestyle by smuggling cocaine.

Roberge was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to smuggling 95 kilos of cocaine into Australia.

So what would have been the result if Roberge had been charged in North Carolina?  There are a number of North Carolina criminal laws related to the possession of cocaine, possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, sell and/or deliver cocaine, and trafficking cocaine.  The type of charge that a defendant will face is based upon the amount of cocaine and the circumstances surrounding the arrest and investigation.

In Roberge’s case, based upon the amount of cocaine, she would have likely been charged with trafficking cocaine.  Under North Carolina criminal law, criminal charges involving the possession of cocaine are distinguished in the following manner:

A charge involving 28–199 grams of cocaine will be charged as as Class G felony.
A charge involving 200–399 grams of cocaine will be charged as a class F felony.
A charge involving 400 or more grams of cocaine will be charged as a class Class D felony.

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

Members of Migos’ Entourage Faces Drug Charges After Concert in North Carolina

First of all, let’s be clear.  No member of the Grammy-nominated hip-hip group Migos has been charged.   The group recently performed at Appalachian State University, and police stopped their tour bus after smelling the odor of marijuana coming from the bus.  After the stop, a search of the bus occurred, and that search resulted in the police find 420 grams of marijuana, which is still less than a pound of marijuana.

Two passengers on the bus were charged with misdemeanor drug possession for charges involving marijuana, Codeine, and Xanax.  Jharon Murphy, who is not a member of the group, was charged with the most serious charges.   Murpy was charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana (PWISD marijuana), which is a class I felony.  Under North Carolina criminal law, a person charged with this offense faces a maximum penalty of 24 months in prison.  Does that mean that he automatically faces 2 years in prison for this charge?  Absolutely not.

With structured sentencing guidelines in North Carolina, a person’s prior record is taken into account along with the type of North Carolina criminal charge.  With that sentencing framework, judges are then provided guidance regarding the type of sentence they are able to impose.  In addition, there may be some type of plea bargain that the State and the defendant’s attorney will ask the judge to consider and accept, and that plea arrangement may provide additional terms and conditions for the judge to consider.

In any event, if you are charged with a North Carolina drug crime such as misdemeanor possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana (PWISD marijuana), trafficking in marijuana in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties such as Guilford County, Davie County,  or Davidson County), you need to speak with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney.  North Carolina felony drug charges have serious penalties and consequences, but you have rights and options.  Please call our office in Winston-Salem at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney with the experience and knowledge about drug charges to review your case and to discuss your options.

Be Careful What You Say…Your Words May Be a Crime

Former NFL offensive lineman Jonathan Martin made headlines a a few years ago when he accused several of his Miami Dolphins teammates of bullying him and creating a hostile work environment. He eventually left the team and has not played in the NFL since 2015.

Martin is now back in the news because he was recently charged with four felony counts of making criminal threats on social media against some of his former teammates and one misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded weapon. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Martin was charged in California, and the maximum punishment that he is facing far exceeds the punishment he would receive in some of the other states. In California, depending on the allegations and circumstances, a prosecutor has the option of charging this offense as felony (maximum sentence up to 4 years) or a misdemeanor (maximum sentence up to 1 year).

So what type of crimes would Jonathan Martin face in North Carolina?  First of all, let’s address the threats he allegedly made online.  Our laws generally designate the crime of communicating threats as a class 1 misdemeanor. As a result, if Martin were charged with only  communicating threats in North Carolina, he would face a maximum sentence of 120 days.  However, because his threat involved a school, Martin’s alleged conduct could result in the class H felony of making false reports concerning mass violence on educational property.  What is interesting about this charge is that the State must prove that the report of mass violence was made, but also that the defendant knew or had reason to know the report was false.  The maximum penalty for a class H felony is 39 months in prison.

With respect to gun charges in North Carolina, North Carolina is an “open carry” state with some obvious limitations and restrictions.  Convicted felons may not carry a gun, and a violation will result in a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, which is a class G felony and punishable up to 47 months in jail.  Likewise, even if it is lawful for a person to carry a gun, the gun may not be concealed without a concealed weapons permit.   A violation of that concealed weapons permit requirement will result in the charge of carrying a concealed weapon, which is a class 2 misdemeanor and punishable up to 60 days in jail.

Being charged with a North Carolina crime such as communicating threats, firearm by a felon, or carrying a concealed weapon can have serious consequences and penalties.   If you are charged with a North Carolina crime in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties (Davie, Davidson, Guilford, and Yadkin), you need to speak with a Forsyth County criminal defense attorney in Winston-Salem.  Please call our office at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal defense attorney with knowledge about North Carolina criminal charges to review your case and to discuss your options.