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Concord North Carolina Criminal Defense Law Blog

A look at how vaping may impact juvenile drug offenses

Reducing the number of incidents of juvenile crime in North Carolina is a shared objective of many cities throughout the state, but this goal can be difficult to attain when challenging influences seem to appear daily. A relatively new obsession for many teenagers is the idea of vaping. While becoming involved in this trend appears relatively harmless to many, it can have a significant impact on a person's wellbeing and safety. 

For authorities in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that concern is becoming apparent in a noticeable increase in the number of drug offenses throughout various schools in the area. When administrators and county officials noticed an uptick in the number of incidents they were dealing with in regards to drug use throughout schools in the area, they decided to conduct some research of their own. 

Judges and prosecutors have room to decide

Laws can sound as sure and unavoidable as math problems with one right answer for every question and there’s no arguing about it. But if you’re arrested, North Carolina police, prosecutors and judges can use their “discretion” at many points in the process.

Legal discretion is the power to make decisions based on opinion and your sense of the situation. Somebody else or the same person under difference circumstances might make a different decision. Discretion matters and can often be discussed, so defense attorneys, witnesses and arguments may make a difference in your outcome.

Football season and DUIs

Watching football is a popular pastime in North Carolina and throughout the country. Get-togethers at sports bars, rowdy tailgate parties and drinking at the game increases the chances that people will get behind the wheel while intoxicated. The laws surrounding driving under the influence are strict in the state, and the penalties, both short- and long-term, can be severe.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the state may consider a DWI to be a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony conviction occurs for those who have had three or more DWI convictions in the past seven years. The penalties include a minimum one-year prison sentence as well as participation in a substance abuse program.

Drug dealers in NC may be charged with 2nd degree murder

Several changes occurred in the legal system over the past six months to a year. Many of these changes affect not just people in North Carolina but Americans nationwide. According to the New York Times, the Senate approved some of the most substantial changes to the criminal justice system in decades toward the end of last year.

While the new legislation still falls short of the original proposals by the Obama administration, it nonetheless addresses many of the concerns raised by both conservatives and liberals over the past decade or more. The First Step Act made the following changes:

  •          Adjusted the mandatory minimum sentences for drug charges
  •          Expands job-training opportunities
  •          Expands early-release programs

Violent crimes on the rise in North Carolina

In May 2019, the News and Observer reported that violent crime was on the rise in Durham, North Carolina since the start of the year. At one point, three homicides took place within an eight-day span. Currently, the figures for the end of the first quarter stand higher than they did last year for the same period of time.

Homicides are not the only violent crimes on the increase. Robberies and aggravated assaults also saw a 13% rise for the first quarter of the year. A total of 12 homicides, 199 aggravated assaults and 153 robberies took place at this time. One trend that concerned law enforcement was an increase in robberies of Hispanics at apartment complexes. Overall, burglaries declined.

Can you be fired in North Carolina for being arrested?

It’s not unusual to hear about somebody being fired for something they wrote on social media. Maybe a video goes viral showing someone not quite living their best life and they’re out of a job.

But what about an arrest for DUI, drug possession or getting into a fight? Maybe you’re innocent but the police made a mistake or were discriminating against you. What if the charges are later dropped? Is it legal to fire you (or turn you down for a job) because of trouble with the law?

Important tips on what to do in a fender bender

Fender benders are one of the most common types of minor accidents in North Carolina. No matter how great a driver someone is, there is no accounting for the driver behind them who may follow too closely and fail to stop. Unfortunately, even the best drivers may not know what to do when they become involved in a fender bender.

According to NBC San Diego, the first step is to remain calm and ensure all the passengers in the vehicle are okay. After ensuring no one is badly hurt, move the car out of traffic. Drivers should then document the accident scene, including close-ups of any damage to theirs and the other person’s vehicle. Getting a photo of the driver’s license plate is also a good idea. If the driver is not cooperative or becomes hostile, call the police. Note that police officers do not determine fault; insurance companies do.

How Walmart handles shoplifting

When people think of larceny cases in North Carolina, auto theft or burglary may most often come to mind. However, shoplifting costs retailers like Walmart millions of dollars every year. In a Business Insider article, one man shared the work experience of his late wife, who worked in loss prevention for Walmart for seven years. Her job was to patrol the stores in plain clothes, looking for alleged thieves. She was later promoted to a supervisor of people who carried out this role.

He reported that his wife caught two to three shoplifters weekly, but that there were other workers who caught two to three in a day. The main indicator she found behind why specific Walmart stores were targeted was the size. She also identified three main types of non-employees who took store items:

  •          Some people took low-cost items, with pregnancy tests being the most frequently targeted. People would use them in the bathrooms and then discard them.
  •          Other people took items from the store and then returned them later on for cash refunds. These items were usually small but costly.
  •          Finally, there were people who belonged to a ring. The most memorable one involved senior citizens, who were all neighbors. One would take an item and someone else would return it for a cash refund. Some rings sold their goods to other stores, while some goods even ended up in meth labs.

North Carolina drug offenses may be federal or state crimes

North Carolina has its own drug laws. They specify which drugs are illegal, which ones in what amounts are misdemeanors or felonies, what evidence can be used in court, and the possible penalties for those found guilty.

But the federal government also has its own laws addressing such questions and its answers are not the same as North Carolina’s. Possessing, selling, and being under the influence of certain drugs are illegal under both sets of laws at the same time, so what laws will apply if you’re charged with a drug crime?

Supreme Court ruling may increase drunk driving convictions

According to The Charlotte Observer, the operator of a vehicle is considered a drunk driver if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC legal limit in North Carolina is just 0.04%. Contrary to what many people believe, even without a BAC test, a police officer may still charge a driver with a DUI or DWI if they are “appreciably impaired.” A DWI is considered a misdemeanor and may lead to jailtime ranging from 24 hours to 2 years or fines of $200 to $4,000.

Business Insider notes that more drivers may face these penalties due to a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that allowed police officers to administer breathalyzer tests without a warrant. This ruling affected existing laws in 11 states. Many professionals believe that criminalizing the refusal of a chemical test is a violation of a person’s rights. Also, drivers often refuse breathalyzer tests anyway, believing that the criminal penalties for refusing the test may prove less lifechanging than having a DWI on their record.

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