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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

“My charge was expunged from my criminal record. How do I fill out my job application?”

North Carolina expunction laws are some of the most confusing laws with respect to what charges are actually eligible to be expunged.  Depending on the disposition of your criminal charge, you may be eligible to apply for an expunction and have this charge removed permanently from your criminal record.  Often, when you apply for a job  or fill out some other type of application, a background check is performed  to verify whether you have any prior criminal convictions.  If you are eligible for an expunction,  and your expunction petition has been signed by a judge, your charge will not appear as part of your criminal background check.

In addition, North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. 15A-153) then permits the person who received the expunction  to “omit reference to the charges or convictions to potential employers and others.”  As a result, once the order of expunction has been entered, you are not guilty of perjury or making a false statement for not disclosing  any expunged charge, conviction, or arrest.

If you or someone you know is seeking the expunction of 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 expunction law, will guide you through this process to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and asserted.  If have been charged with a  crime in North Carolina and you want to determine whether you are eligible for an expunction 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.

“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.