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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

“I missed my court date.”

“I missed my court date, and now I have an order for arrest.  What can I do?”

It depends on the type of charge and the courtroom where the charge was scheduled to be heard.  For many minor traffic offenses, the DMV will be notified, which means that you will have to reschedule your case and resolve it within a certain time limit to avoid the suspension of your license as well as the fines, costs, and/or late fees.

If you miss a court date for a criminal charge or a serious traffic offense such as Driving While Impaired or Driving While License Revoked, it is not uncommon that an order for your arrest will be issued.  If an order for arrest is issued, this situation may be addressed in a couple of ways.

One option would be to report to the magistrate and have the warrant served.  As a result, however, you will likely have to post bond.  In the event that you are unable to post bond, you would have to remain in jail until the scheduled court date or until the bond is reduced.  Another option, however, is to call an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney.  In many instances, your attorney may be able to have the order for your arrest stricken and a new court date scheduled.

If you have an order for your arrest for a 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.