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.

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.

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 NBA Player Faces Drug Charges

Most people still don’t realize that the odor of marijuana provides probable cause for the police to search your car or your home. Consider the case of former NBA player, Glen Davis, who was recently arrested on drug charges.  The court records indicate that the reason the police were called was due to the fact that the hotel owner smelled marijuana. After entering Glen Davis’ room, the police found 126 grams of marijuana and $92,000 in cash.

Davis was charged in Maryland, but let’s consider these facts and circumstances under North Carolina law.  The amount of marijuana found in Davis’ room may seem like an extremely large amount until you do the math. It takes 448 grams to equal one pound of marijuana.  It takes an excess of 10 pounds of marijuana to be charged with trafficking marijuana.  Therefore, under North Carolina law, the drug charge that Davis would most likely face is possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana (PWISD marijuana).  PWISD marijuana is a class I felony, which is the lowest class of felony under North Carolina law.  The maximum punishment is 24 months in prison, however a prison sentence for a class I felony is not mandatory which is quite different from trafficking marijuana.  A conviction in North Carolina for trafficking marijuana includes a mandatory active sentence depending on the amount of marijuana.

According to North Carolina General Statute 90-95(h), here are the following punishments for trafficking marijuana:

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).

Davis’ attorney has issued a statement saying that his clients both maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name of these charges.

North Carolina felony drug charges have serious penalties and consequences.  If you are charged with a North Carolina drug crime such as possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana (PWISD marijuana) or trafficking in marijuana 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.

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.

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.

Penalty for Unnecessary Roughness: Panthers Fan Charged with Simple Assault

The manner in which the Carolina Panthers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles was ugly.  However, the conduct displayed by one Panthers fan during the game was even worse.  During the game last Thursday, Kyle Maraghy was caught on tape punching another fan.  As a result of that conduct, Maraghy was later arrested and charged with simple assault.

In North Carolina, simple assault is a class 2 misdemeanor.  As a result, the maximum punishment for this crime is an active jail sentence of 60 days in jail.  By comparison, the crime of simple assault carries the same maximum punishment as carrying a concealed weapon, resisting/delaying a public officer, and disorderly conduct.

If you are charged with simple assault 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.

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.