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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.

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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.

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Former Carolina Panthers Player Arrested for Possession of Cocaine

Free-agent Greg Hardy, who most recently played for the Dallas Cowboys was arrested in Dallas on Monday for felony possession of cocaine.  According to the police, Hardy’s vehicle was searched after he was stopped for a traffic violation.  Prior to his stint with the Cowboys, Hardy played five years for the Carolina Panthers.

Hardy was charged in Texas, and therefore, he faces a maximum sentence of 2 years.  If he had been charged in North Carolina, felony possession of cocaine is a Class I felony, with a minimum sentencing range of probation up to a maximum active sentence of 15 months.  In North Carolina, defendants who are convicted of a felony are sentenced according to structured sentencing, whereby judges are able to sentence defendants within certain limits, and a defendant’s sentence is dependent upon the defendant’s prior criminal record as well as the type of felony.

If you are charged with felony possession of cocaine or some other North Carolina crime, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal law attorney.  Depending on your prior record and the facts and circumstances of your case, you have a lot of options with respect to how your case is resolved.  Please call us today for a free consultation at (336) 725-6559 in our office which is located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  In addition to Forsyth County, we also handle cases in the counties of Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin.

 

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Officer’s False Testimony Leads to More than 100 DWI Dismissals

Last week, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office dismissed a total of 175 cases, including 104 DWI cases, after the investigating officer gave false testimony in at least three prior cases. Now, the video has been released for one of those cases, and the video clearly contradicted the officer’s testimony. In court, the officer testified that the suspect refused to take the breathalyzer test, that she did not ask for a witness to be present, and that she did not try to call anyone to ask them to be a witness.  All of these statements were false statements.

Always remember that whenever you are charged with Driving While Impaired in North Carolina, you are presumed to be not guilty, and the State has the burden of proof to prove that you are guilty.  Your rights for any DWI case include, but are not limited to the following:

1. You have the right to either take or refuse a breathalyzer test.
2. You also have the right to call a witness and have that witness present to watch you take the test.

A conviction for Driving While Impaired in North Carolina carries serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged with Driving While Impaired in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, please call our office at (336) 725-6559 to speak with an experienced and aggressive Winston-Salem DWI attorney.

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NC Man Arrested After Not Returning a VHS Tape

In 2002, James Meyers rented a VHS tape, “Freddy Got Fingered.”  The video rental store, which is no longer in business, alleged that the video was never returned.  As a result, the store filed a charged against him for the misdemeanor of Failure to Return Rental Property.

Meyers was stopped recently for a minor a traffic violation, and he was then informed that he had an outstanding arrest warrant for allegedly not returning the video.  After having the warrant served, Meyers’ court date was scheduled for April 27, 2016.  Due to the age of the case and the fact that the store is no longer in business, I would not be surprised if this case is ultimately dismissed.

If you are charged in North Carolina with a crime such as Failure to Return Rental Property, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal law attorney.  Please call us today for a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal law attorney at (336) 725-6559.  Our office is located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in addition to Forsyth County criminal cases, we also handles cases in the counties of Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Stokes, and Yadkin.

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Woman Charged with Animal Cruelty for Taping a Dog’s Mouth Shut

A  woman is facing a misdemeanor charge of Cruelty to Animals in Wake County District Court for allegedly taping her dog’s mouth shut.  The investigation began after Katharine Lamansky allegedly duct-taped her dog’s mouth and posted the pictures on Facebook.  Animal control officers investigated and  have not taken the dog from Ms. Lamansky after noting that the dog was not injured and was “well cared for.”

In North Carolina, a charge for animal cruelty is a class 1 misdemeanor.  As a result, the maximum punishment is 120 days in jail. If you are charged with animal cruelty or some other North Carolina crime, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney.  Please call us today for a free consultation at (336) 725-6559 in our office which is located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  In addition to Forsyth County, we also handle cases in the counties of Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin.

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Jury Selection

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Foster vs. Chatman. In this case, the central issue to be determined is whether black jurors were improperly excluded due to their race. The Supreme Court has previously held in the case of Batson v. Kentucky that excluding jurors based on their race is unconstitutional. If we’re really serious about reforming the criminal justice system, all aspects of our system have be considered, and jury selection is an important part of the process.

In North Carolina, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, your trial occurs in District Court.  Therefore, in addition to making decisions about evidence and other criminal procedure issues, the presiding judge also serves as the jury and renders a verdict.   If a defendant is found guilty in District Court, the defendant may then appeal that decision within ten (10) days to Superior Court.   In Superior Court, the misdemeanor appeal result in a trial in front of a jury who will then have the duty of rendering a verdict.  If a defendant in North Carolina is charged with a felony, that trial will always take place in Superior Court, and once again with the option of having a jury trial.

Being charged with a crime is a serious matter, and if you go to trial, jury selection is an important part of that process.  If you are charged with a crime in North Carolina, call our office at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to discuss all of your rights and options with respect to your case.

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North Charleston Reaches Settlement in the Death of Walter Scott

In April 2015, Walter Scott was stopped for a minor traffic violation.  Minutes later, Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer as he fled the scene and was later shot in the back.  Video footage that was later released showed that Scott was unarmed, and that footage contradicted the officer’s account that Scott had tried to grab the officer’s taser.  Yesterday, the city of North Carolina reached a settlement with Walter Scott’s family in the amount of $6.5 million.

Click on the link below for more information about this story:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/walter-scott-north-charleston-settlement/

 

 

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DRUG PARAPHERNALIA:  A MODEST PROPOSAL

While there are many laws that I would like to see modified, perhaps one of the laws that is most deserving of modification is the offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.  According to North Carolina General Statute 90-113.22, “it is unlawful for any person to knowingly use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance which it would be unlawful to possess, or to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the body a controlled substance which it would be unlawful to possess.” So what is drug paraphernalia?  Under North Carolina General Statute 90-113.21, drug paraphernalia is defined as “all equipment, products and materials of any kind that are used to facilitate, or intended or designed to facilitate, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, including planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, and concealing controlled substances and injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled substances into the human body”  Along with this broad definition, the statute also lists several specific examples of items that are classified as drug paraphernalia.  Some of those examples include scales, plastic bags, rolling papers, pipes, and bowls, just to name a few.   The fact that the possession of drug paraphernalia is unlawful is not surprising.  However, the possible punishment for the possession of drug paraphernalia is surprising and may lead to unfair and nonsensical results in some cases.

Let’s start with the basics.  Any individual who is convicted of the possession of drug paraphernalia shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, which means that a conviction for this offense may result in a possible maximum jail sentence of 120 days.  This sentence may not seem that unfair for an individual who is also charged with a felony drug offense or a misdemeanor drug offense which is also a class 1 misdemeanor.  However, the unfairness becomes apparent for an individual who is charged with a class 3 misdemeanor along with the offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.  An individual charged with a class 3 misdemeanor faces a possible maximum sentence of only 20 days, and one example of a class 3 misdemeanor drug offense is the possession of up to one-half  ounce of marijuana.  In many instances, individuals who are charged with a class 3 possession of marijuana are also carrying or storing that marijuana in a plastic bag or that individual is also in possession of rolling papers or cigar papers to smoke the marijuana which is currently in their possession.

In that scenario, individuals who are charged with both the class 3 misdemeanor possession of marijuana and class 1 misdemeanor of paraphernalia (plastic bags, cigar papers, or rolling papers) actually face more time for possessing paraphernalia than for actually possessing drugs.   Let me repeat that.  A defendant can receive a possible maximum sentence of 120 days for a plastic bag that was being used to carry or store the marijuana, but that same defendant only faces a sentence of 20 days for the marijuana that was being stored in that same bag.  If the legislature has already determined that an individual who possesses one-half ounce of marijuana or less should be exposed to no more than 20 days in jail (a class 3 misdemeanor), then does it really make sense in that scenario that the punishment for possessing the accompanying paraphernalia charge should exceed the possible punishment for the drug possession offense? After all, possessing plastic bags, rolling papers, and cigar papers alone doesn’t constitute a violation of our criminal laws.  The possession of these items only becomes unlawful once drugs are involved.

Therefore, I would propose the following modification.  In those instances, where the drug possession offense only constitutes a class 3 misdemeanor, the possession of drug paraphernalia would likewise only be punishable as no greater than a class 3 misdemeanor offense.  However, the law would remain unchanged where the drug possession offense results in a conviction of either a class 1 misdemeanor or felony.  In those instances, the possible maximum punishment for possession of drug paraphernalia would still remain as a class 1 misdemeanor.

The possession of drug paraphernalia is a serious misdemeanor offense with serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged in North Carolina with the possession of drug paraphernalia or any other felony or misdemeanor drug offenses, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina who is able to assist you.  Please call me today for a free consultation in my office, which is located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

****UPDATE – On December 1, 2014, the North Carolina legislature changed the law to distinguish between marijuana paraphernalia and paraphernalia for all other drugs.  Now, under N.C.G.S. 90-113.22A, the charge of marijuana drug paraphernalia is punishable as a class 3 misdemeanor.