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.

 

“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.

NC Man Arrested After Not Returning a VHS Tape

In 2002, James Meyers rented a VHS tape, “Freddy Got Fingered.”  The video rental store, which is no longer in business, alleged that the video was never returned.  As a result, the store filed a charged against him for the misdemeanor of Failure to Return Rental Property.

Meyers was stopped recently for a minor a traffic violation, and he was then informed that he had an outstanding arrest warrant for allegedly not returning the video.  After having the warrant served, Meyers’ court date was scheduled for April 27, 2016.  Due to the age of the case and the fact that the store is no longer in business, I would not be surprised if this case is ultimately dismissed.

If you are charged in North Carolina with a crime such as Failure to Return Rental Property, you need an experienced North Carolina criminal law attorney.  Please call us today for a free consultation with a Winston-Salem criminal law attorney at (336) 725-6559.  Our office is located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in addition to Forsyth County criminal cases, we also handles cases in the counties of Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Stokes, and Yadkin.

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.