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.

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.

Former NBA Player Steve Francis Charged with Public Intoxication

Alcoholism affects so many people, and unfortunately it can lead to other alcohol-related criminal charges such as driving while impaired (DWI), possession of an open container of alcohol, and underage drinking. Alcoholism can also play a role in other criminal offenses where intoxication or the possession of alcohol is not an element of the crime such as assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

Steve Francis has battled alcoholism for a number of years, and he was recently charged for public intoxication in California.  While public intoxication does not seem like a charge with severe penalties or consequences, the penalty in California is more harsh than in most states. In California,the misdemeanor charge of public intoxication includes a maximum sentence up to six months in jail.

In contrast, North Carolina treats the charge of public intoxication much differently. This charge is still a misdemeanor offense, but it is a class 3 misdemeanor, which is the lowest level of misdemeanor with which a person can be charged. As a result, the maximum penalty in North Carolina for a charge of public intoxication is 20 days in jail.

It is also important to note that simply being intoxicated in public is not enough to be convicted. In order to be convicted in North Carolina, in addition to being intoxicated, the State must prove in N.C.G.S. 14-444 that the defendant was disruptive in one of the following ways:

(1) Blocking or otherwise interfering with traffic on a highway or public
vehicular area, or
(2) Blocking or lying across or otherwise preventing or interfering with access to or passage across a sidewalk or entrance to a building, or
(3) Grabbing, shoving, pushing or fighting others or challenging others to fight, or
(4) Cursing or shouting at or otherwise rudely insulting others, or
(5) Begging for money or other property.

If you are charged with a North Carolina alcohol crime such as public intoxication, underage drinking, driving while impaired (DWI)  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 alcohol charges  such as public intoxication or DWI to review your case and to discuss your options.

Former Asheville Police Officer Charged with Assault

In August 2017, former Asheville police officer Christopher Hickman encountered Johnnie Rush and later charged him with jaywalking and resisting a public officer. Hickman’s body camera subsequently revealed conduct which resulted in the former officer being removed from patrol duty. A review of that video also resulted in the Rush’s charges being dismissed. In January, Hickman resigned from the police department on the day he was going to be terminated. Yesterday, a warrant was issued against Hickman for criminal charges of assault by strangulation, assault inflicting serious injury, and communicating threats.

Assault by strangulation is a class H felony with a maximum penalty of 39 months in jail. Assault inflicting serious injury can be a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on the severity of the injuries. The felony charge for this type of assault is a class F felony with a maximum penalty of 59 months in jail , while the misdemeanor charge for this type of assault is a class A1 misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 150 days in jail. The charge of communicating threats is a class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail.

If you are charged with criminal charges 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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.