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Charlotte NC Criminal Defense Law Blog

DWI cases and procedural errors and violations

We've discussed in previous posts some of the penalties individuals who are convicted of a DWI in North Carolina may face. There's no doubt that the financial and personal costs associated with a drunk driving conviction are significant and individuals who are facing criminal charges would be wise to contact a defense attorney and explore their options.

Contrary to what many people believe, DWI cases can be successfully defended and an attorney will closely investigate the facts of a DWI stop and arrest to determine whether any procedural errors or violations occurred.

For example, an attorney can look at whether the stop of the defendant's vehicle was lawful.  Did the officer have reasonable suspicion? Did the officer see some vioaltion of motor vehicle law or was it just normal driving activity?  For example, a delayed start of a few seconds when a red light turns to green might not be sufficient.  Same for weaving in the lane or spinning tires.  Was the DWI/DUI checkpoint properly constructed?  What was the "primary programmatic purpose"? Was the location and time of the checkpoint designed to fulfill a valid law enforcement need? Was the public put on notice of the checkpoint?

Then, the attorney can look at the probable cause for the DWI/DUI arrest decision.  Did the officer do the Field Tests properly and were they qualified to do so?  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has certain tests that should be performed in a very precise way, and even then those tests are only 65-68% reliable.  Did the officer use his Portable Breath Test properly?

If the defendant had a Blood Alcohol Content ("BAC") over .08, the attorney should look at the maintenance schedule for the Intox EC IR II and whether the officer performed the test correctly, including waiting for witnesses to arrive.

Was the defendant released promptly as required by Statute?

Panel's plan aims to adjust federal white-collar crime sentences

Regular readers of this blog may recall that back in August of last year we highlighted that the U.S. Sentencing Commission anticipated focusing more attention on revising federal guidelines related to convictions in white-collar crime cases. As a result of the panel's efforts, there is some growing anticipation that penalties for certain financial crimes could be reduced in some instances.

At issue, according to many defense attorneys, is the fact that the current advisory guidelines put so much emphasis on the amount of monetary loss suffered by investors in stock fraud cases, rather than on any actual gains that various defendants might have realized. As a result, minor players convicted in a large scheme might be penalized as harshly as those who gleaned the most from an offense. 

How to avoid being questioned about DWI at a License checkpoint?

This is an interesting idea. If you approach a LICENSE checkpoint - where the officer has authority ONLY to check licenses, not look for signs of impairment - can you put your license outside the window and refuse to roll down the window (where the officer will be trying to smell your breath etc.)?
Since you have satisfied the purpose of the checkpoint, is the officer hamstrung from taking further action?

Greg Hardy case dismissed, but is it all over?

Prosecutors dismissed his case today voluntarily after the purported victim was unable to be located.  However, a "Voluntary Dismissal" leaves the option open to prosecutors to reinstate the charges if and when they locate witnesses.  So if they can find their victim, its a new day in court.  

Is it legal for a North Carolina police officer to sieze cash in a traffic stop?

It's been nearly two years since a North Carolina business owner was first pulled over by a state police officer who seized several thousands of dollars in cash that the man had in his possession. A subsequent traffic stop resulted in several more thousands of dollars in business-related proceeds being seized for a total loss of $130,000. Despite the fact that the man was never charged with any crime, the police officer was able to seize the assets under a program known as equitable sharing.

North Carolina's participation in the equitable sharing program allows state and local law enforcement agencies to seize and retain assets that officers suspect may be connected to criminal activity. For example, in cases where a police officer suspects cash seized in a traffic stop is drug-related, the Drug Enforcement Administration may adopt the case. Once seized assets are tied to a federal case, they might not be returned. This is true even in cases where the individual from whom assets were seized is never charged with any crime.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to implement body-camera program

During 2014, questions and controversy related to the use of excessive force by police officers came to a head with the police shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the chokehold death of Eric Garner. As Americans across the country took to the streets to protest, police officials searched for a way to restore the public's faith.

On Jan. 26, Charlotte's City Council approved a measure to spend $7M to purchase body cameras for the 1,400 police officers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. While the CMPD has been piloting the use of body cameras for the last two years, the controversy and anger incited by the deaths of Brown and Garner may have helped convince members of the city's council of the need for body cameras.

Report details why locking up juvenile offenders does more harm than good

Making mistakes is a major part of growing up and learning how to navigate life. Unfortunately, for some kids, mistakes related to drug use and possession, robbery, assault and drunk driving can have serious consequences that result in criminal charges. Mistakes are part of life and when a young person appears to be headed down the wrong path, it benefits all of society if measures are taken and employed to help a youth succeed.

While at face value the rationale mentioned above makes sense, a recent report by the Justice Policy Institute details how far too many juveniles in the U.S. are being locked up and incarcerated rather than provided with the help and counseling they desperately need. As a result, the lives of these young boys and girls are irreparably changed as negative experiences within the criminal justice system lead many down a path of recidivism and despair.

What activities may be considered cyber crimes?

Previously, many incidents of alleged theft involved circumstances in which an accused individual was believed to have personally take physical belongings from another. For example, an individual facing identify theft charges may have been accused of rummaging through someone's trash. Today, however, acts involving the unlawful access and use of sensitive personal and financial information readily involve the use of computers and are widely referred to as cyber crimes.

North Carolina residents have likely followed news of the recent cyber attack on Sony which was reportedly carried out by hackers from North Korea. Just this week, the United States military's Central Command Twitter account was also hacked by individuals claiming allegiance to the extremist organization the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Did New Jersey Real Housewife Teresa Guidice get special treatment at prison?

The media has been all agog of late, gushing how The Real Housewives of New Jersey female felon extraordinaire has already received a cut in her jail time down to 13 months. Fans may remember how she was originally sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to dozens of counts of bank, mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud, which allegedly saw them netted millions over several years.

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