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.

 

NBA Player Charged with Reckless Driving

For the second time in ten years, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been charged with reckless driving. In 2007, he was also charged with reckless driving, and one of his friends died in that incident. In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty, and as part of his sentence, he was ordered to serve 24 days in jail and to perform 500 hours of community service.  In his most recent charge, Smith has pleaded not guilty.

In North Carolina, reckless driving can also have serious consequences. Although an active sentence is unlikely in most circumstances, this charge is a class 2 misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail. In addition, a conviction for reckless driving will result in four DMV points and a likely increase in your insurance rate.

If you are charged with reckless driving in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina or one of the surrounding counties, you need an experienced North Carolina traffic attorney to handle your case.   An experienced Winston-Salem 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.

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.

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.

 

Probation Violations

Remember Ethan Couch? He was driving drunk when he was 16 years old and killed four people. However, instead of going to jail, he was placed on probation after his attorneys successfully argued that he suffered from affluenza. Essentially, his lawyers claimed that he was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial status and/or privilege.
 
He later fled to Mexico and violated his probation, and his case was subsequently transferred to adult court.  Although Couch’s case happened in Texas, probation violation cases have a lot of similarities regardless of the state where the violation occurs.  For example, once a defendant is placed on probation, all of the terms and conditions of that probation must be followed in order to avoid having the probation revoked and the sentence or judgment activated.  Sometimes, even if a violation is found, additional terms and conditions may be added or the probation period may be extended to allow additional time to complete the terms and conditions that were previously ordered.
If you are charged with a North Carolina probation violation in Forsyth County or one of the surrounding counties, you need to speak with an experienced Winston-Salem criminal lawyer to represent you.  Please call us at (336) 725-6559 and schedule a free consultation in office which is located in downtown Winston-Salem.

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.

NC Supreme Court Says No Facebook for Sex Offenders

Sex offenders who are registered in North Carolina are already prohibited from going certain places and doing certain things. The North Carolina Supreme Court recently added another restriction. On Friday, the Court ruled that sex offenders are also prohibited from accessing social media sites such as Facebook.

The obvious question is who is required to register.   Under North Carolina law, any person who has a “reportable conviction” and who resides in North Carolina, moves to North Carolina, or is a nonresident student or nonresident worker in North Carolina must maintain registration.  A “reportable conviction” is  a final conviction for a sex offense against a minor, a sexually violent offense, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses.  Some of the most common offenses include but are not limited to the following:  rape, indecent liberties with a minor, and sexual battery.

If you are charged with a sex offense or with some other crime in Forsyth County, North Carolina, you need an experienced and aggressive North Carolina criminal defense lawyer.  Call our office today, which is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at (336) 725-6559 for a free consultation.

 

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.