What’s The Difference Between Specific Intent Crimes And General Intent Crimes In Raleigh, NC?

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Raleigh, prosecutors may make a distinction: specific intent or general intent. Although committing a crime such as theft is a crime no matter what, the two categories of theft are important to delineate the severity of the crime that’s been committed. The main difference is what you were planning to do, which can directly influence the outcome of your case.

General Intent

What's The Difference Between Specific Intent And General Intent Crimes In Raleigh, NC?

This is a crime that is committed for no other purpose than doing it. There is no intent for a specific outcome.

The term “general intent” only refers to the person’s state of mind when committing the crime requiring only the willingness to break the law. It also includes someone who commits a crime and is unaware that it is illegal.

Battery is one example of a “general intent” crime. Defined as “the intentional and harmful physical contact of another person,” the very essence of committing battery is simply to do it without any other intent. If one individual punches another, the intent is established, and the prosecution will only need to show that the assailant intended to commit battery. There is no need to prove that the assailant injured the victim, since the law assumes that the victim was injured.

Specific Intent

As the name implies, the crime is committed with a specific purpose. There is not only a desire to commit the crime, but also the desire for a specific outcome. This requires the prosecution to prove that a defendant acted with a motive in mind when committing this action.

Using our battery example, an assailant who commits battery on another for the sole and intended purpose of causing an injury (such as a broken nose or a black eye to the victim) has committed a specific intent crime. The prosecution must then go the extra step of proving that a defendant had a motive for committing the crime.

Crimes that are considered “specific intent” include:

  • Theft
  • Larceny
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Child molestation
  • “Inchoate” offenses or crimes, such as conspiracy, attempt and solicitation (taking steps to and preparing to commit a crime)
  • Murder

Another example is auto theft. If an individual takes someone else’s car for the purpose of borrowing it or just to play a prank on the owner, it can be argued that there was no crime committed if there was never an intent to keep the car. However, if a vehicle is stolen by one individual to deprive the owner of their vehicle permanently, the crime is now considered “specific.”

A Defendant’s Mental State

There are two parts to most crimes: the “actus reus,” or the act of the crime, and the “mens rea,” the mental element or motive of the crime.

In the process of a trial, a prosecutor may be required to demonstrate the defendant’s mens rea, or the motive for committing the crime. The difference between a general and specific intent is whether the defendant committeed the actus reus and intended to achieve a specific outcome. Proving that a crime is general intent won’t require the prosecutor to show that the defendant had any specific outcome in mind, whereas a specific crime will.

Defense For Specific And General Intent Charges

There is a wide gap between general and specific intent charges, that makes a big difference when it comes to your defense. If you unintentionally committed a crime without a specific intent in mind, you could be found not guilty. But you’ll need a strong defense in order to achieve it.

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC. Before working as a defense attorney, he was a Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He understands the criminal justice system, and can represent you for a wide range of criminal charges.

Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal defense case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

 

How Are The New Marijuana Drug Laws Affecting Those With Past Drug Convictions?

Have you been charged with or convicted of possession small amounts of marijuana in the past? If so, you may be interested to learn about the latest in marijuana drug law changes.

The legalization of marijuana in some states creates a quandary: if marijuana is now legal, what does it mean for people with past convictions, especially for small amounts? New Yorkers are currently asking this same question.

NC State House Bill 766

Even with the legalization of both medical and recreational use in several states, North Carolina still considers marijuana possession a crime for which you can be arrested. Possession of a half-ounce or less is decriminalized but incurs a fine of $200.

Hemp is decriminalized only for medicinal use by patients with intractable epilepsy, the type that does not respond to medication and treatment.

However, House Bill 766 that was introduced in 2019 aims to change that just a little. If passed, it would decriminalize four ounces or less for personal use, and anything under 16 ounces would become a misdemeanor. (Currently, possession of 1½ ounces to 16 ounces is a Class 1 felony offense.) The bill would also allow for expunctions (removal) of criminal records related to “certain convictions for possession” of marijuana.

Under another bill, Senate Bill 58, if you have a prior conviction for less than 3 ounces, and no additional aggravating circumstances, a criminal defense attorney can file a petition for expungement with the court that issued the conviction. If the DA and your probation officer agree (or do not contest,) the judge will likely sign and approve it.

The idea behind these bills is to clear out a number of criminal records and relieve a large number of people from criminal records for small amounts of marijuana purchased for personal use.

One other bill regarding the revamping of North Carolina’s marijuana laws was introduced recently, House Bill 401, the “Enact Medical Cannabis Act.” Unfortunately, all three of revisionist bills are currently stuck in committee.

Cook County, IL—Reparations For Past Convictions

The state of Illinois has a new law that takes effect on January 1, 2020 that allows residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis (just over one ounce.) Individuals with convictions of 30 to 500 grams (just over 17½) ounces of cannabis can petition the court to have their conviction expunged.

Cook County’s partnership with Code For America, a nonprofit organization, to expedite the expungement process by sifting through thousands of records to find the individuals convicted of less than 30 grams. Using their Clear My Record service (at no charge to the county), they will sort through records and complete the paperwork necessary for prosecutors to submit to judges for expungement. Code For America is dedicated to helping state and local governments better serve their constituents through the use of updated technology.

This means that for thousands of individuals in Cook County, old convictions for small amounts will be removed from their records as well as law enforcement databases. This will allow these individuals the opportunities that they were previously prevented from accessing, such as education, housing, and certain types of employment.

The Disparity Of The Green Economy

The irony of the new “green economy” is that while people around the US are able to take advantage of some of marijuana and hemp’s medicinal benefits, others are sitting in jail for possession of them for much the same substance. Individuals with these convictions are disproportionately Latino and African-American, and many states have laws that prohibit anyone with a felony drug conviction from entering the legal cannabis industry.

Additionally, legal marijuana companies have another question to answer: whether they should hire an individual with a prior conviction for marijuana. Another ironic twist is that this escalating industry can benefit from the experience of the individuals who previously handled it.

Changes in state laws throughout the nation could bring more experience and expertise into the green economy for the benefit of everyone, as well as open up more job opportunities.

Defense For Marijuana Charges

Even a small amount of marijuana can have lifelong implications, whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony drug charge. That’s why it’s vital to have the best defense available. A criminal defense attorney experienced in marijuana cases can defend you in court.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.

 

Exoneration Statistics To Consider

Being accused of a crime is difficult, but being convicted and jailed is an entirely different scenario. A false conviction can see an innocent person spend much of their life behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

Improvements in investigative tools such as forensic science and DNA testing have helped wrongly convicted people defend themselves in court and seek exoneration. For those wrongly jailed, many have been able to clear their names after a prison sentence. Many go so far as to plead guilty to a lesser sentence, knowing they were totally innocent.

Some of these individuals have been in jail for many years, without the means to prove that they were tried and convicted improperly. With the help of these improved tools and techniques, and nonprofit organizations like The Innocence Project, people wrongly convicted are now able to seek exoneration.

What Is Exoneration?

To be exonerated is to be cleared of an accusation, either through the presentation of evidence of innocence, a defect in a conviction, or other actions that completely clear an individual of the charges that have been levied.

For instance, if someone is charged in a robbery because of a garment they were wearing, submitting evidence of the person’s whereabouts without the incriminating garment shows that another individual wearing it committed the crime. The evidence of the accuse whereabouts will exonerate him or her of the charges, and will be dismissed.

How Does This Happen?

There are a number of reasons why someone could be wrongfully charged and convicted. The most common are:Exoneration Statistics To Consider

  • Witness identification of perpetrator
  • Zealous police and prosecutors
  • Police misconduct
  • False confessions
  • Perjury
  • Faulty forensic evidence and inadequate testing
  • Racial bias

These cases are being reviewed and reworked by some prosecutor’s offices with Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs), and others are assisted by nonprofit innocence organizations like The Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations, whose work is to free wrongly convicted individuals.

Statistics on DNA Exoneration

Since the introduction of DNA testing for criminal cases in 1989, The National Registry of Exoneration estimates that more than 2,500 individuals have been freed, and more than 22,000 years of life were lost behind bars due to wrongful convictions.

The registry’s report on 2018 reveals the following:

  • CIUs were responsible for 58 exoneration
  • “Professional exonerator,” nongovernmental organizations such as the Innocence Project, were responsible for 86 exoneration
  • CIUs and organizations working together were able to exonerate 45 people in 2018
  • A total of 31 individuals were exonerated in Chicago on drug and weapons charges as a result of an investigation into corrupt police officers led by Sergeant Watts.
  • Illinois had the highest number of exoneration, at 46, due to the Sgt. Watts affair. Texas and New York are tied in second place at 16, Michigan in third place with 9 and California with 6.
  • The DNA exoneration in 2018 totaled 23, about 15% of the overall total, with 60% for murder cases, 7% for sex crimes, one case for attempted robbery, and one case for kidnapping and sexual assault
  • Seventy cases in 2018 were individuals who were wrongly incarcerated and no crime actually occurred. This included one murder case for which the defendant spent 25 years on death row for the murder and assault of a 21-month old girl. The injuries that indicated his guilt were actually unsuccessful medical procedures by emergency room physicians.
  • Texas had 363 exoneration in 2018, the highest rate in the US
  • The bulk of US exoneration in 2018 came from just four counties: Harris County (Texas), Cook County (Illinois) Kings (Brooklyn) and Dallas counties.
  • Nationwide, the city with the second most exoneration per capita from wrongful convictions is New Orleans, Louisiana.The state incarcerates at nearly twice the national average, with many incarcerated who haven’t even been convicted of a crime.

The Most Popular: Drug Charges

Exonerated prisoners are frequently the target of drug charges, particularly for African-American defendants, who are five times as likely to be imprisoned for drug possession as white defendants. Innocent African-Americans are 12 times as likely to be convicted of drug crimes as innocent whites, even though the rate of illegal drug use is about the same for both groups.

In Harris County, Texas, which includes the City of Houston, the crime labs take an extra step of testing drugs that are seized during arrest, even if the accused pleads guilty. In many cases, the substances are found not to be illegal drugs. As a result, 48 of Texas’ 58 exoneration in 2016 were in Harris County.

The CU for the DA’s office began calling for the backlog of drug cases to be cleared in 2014, which prompted crime lab testing of substances taken during the arrests. As a result of the testing, the first 48 defendants were exonerated, and 10 were exonerated in 2017.

Harris County’s African-American community makes up 20% of the population and account for 62% of the exoneration.

Defense or Exoneration? Contact Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney who can defend you or your loved one against wrongful criminal charges and work for exoneration. Call Mr. Brinkley today at 919-832-0307 or use our contact page to schedule your free consultation.

How Embezzlement and Theft are Different?

You might be thinking that embezzlement and theft are one and the same, but they aren’t. While theft is stealing something that doesn’t belong to you, embezzlement is also more of a planned type of theft, and has the added element of violated trust.

What Is Embezzlement?

In an employment or other position of financial responsibility, you may be entrusted with money or property, and have permission to handle them in the course of your job or other position. Misusing your position of trust to steal or misappropriate money or property and convert it to your own elevates theft and embezzlement.

The crime occurs in a number of familiar settings, with the most common scenario a worker stealing money, inventory, or office supplies from their employer. While you may not be arrested for the odd ballpoint you forgot that put in your pocket and take home, embezzlement can also take the form of:

How Does Embezzlement Differ From Theft?

  • Altering employee time records
  • Adding extra to a company expense account
  • Depositing customer or vendor checks into a personal account, or moving money into one
  • Altering company books to conceal stolen, misappropriated, or loss amounts
  • “Borrowing” money from a company cash register
  • Over-charging for a product and keeping the difference
  • Adding a phony employee to the company payroll
  • Accepting kickbacks and bribes

Additionally, money or property that is entrusted to you and is mishandled is considered embezzlement, including:

  • Improperly using someone else’s Social Security money, i.e., relative or child
  • Creating a credit card or check “kiting” scheme (writing bad checks and “floating” them)
  • Using a Ponzi scheme to steal funds
  • Using a client’s settlement amount to pay for operating expenses
  • “Borrowing” funds from a civic organization, nonprofit or other organization
  • Selling a property and keeping the proceeds without notifying heirs

Although embezzlement is usually handled at the state level, should a government employee is involved, or government funds, the federal government will be involved.

Overtime As Embezzlement

Many people are dedicated to their job, and work longer hours. For some, it may be a requirement. But for others, working overtime may constitute embezzlement under certain circumstances.

Of course, if you’re working the overtime to bring in extra money, and not setting off any alarms, there isn’t much cause for concern. However, other indicators in addition to overtime may raise suspicions of possible embezzlement. This would include issues with company financial accounts, including accounts that are missing or disorganized records that make account audits difficult if not impossible.

For an individual who spends a lot of time at the office, including weekends and holidays, and uses company resources may be doing so for their own benefit (i.e., running a business or other money-making plan.) If the individual charges the company for “overtime,” the individual is defrauding the company out of money and work he or she allegedly completed.

Another method is when an individual claims to work overtime, but doesn’t appear anywhere on security footage at the time he or she claims to have worked.

This is not to say that everyone working overtime is suspect. If a company suspects fraud through overtime, it will look for other signs of possible misconduct that indicate embezzlement.

Penalties For Embezzlement in North Carolina

These depend on who committed the embezzlement and how much the individual embezzled.

  • Officers or agents, clerks, or employees at a corporation who embezzle over $100,000 are charged with a Class C felony, with a possible jail sentence of 58-73 months in prison. Anything under $100,000 is considered a Class H felony with a possible jail sentence of 5 to 6 months in prison and “community punishment.”
  • Treasurers of any charitable organizations who embezzle over $100,000 are charged with a Class C felony, with a possible sentence of 58-73 months in prison. Anything under $100,000 is considered a Class H felony with a possible jail sentence of 5 to 6 months in prison and “community punishment.”
  • Railroad officers embezzling over $100,000 are charged with a Class C felony, with a possible sentence of 58-73 months in prison. Anything under $100,000 is considered a Class F felony with a possible jail sentence of 13 to 16 months in prison.
  • Public officials and public employees, including state and government workers embezzling over $100,000 are charged with a Class C felony, with a possible sentence of 58-73 months in prison. Anything under $100,000 is considered a Class F felony with a possible jail sentence of 13 to 16 months in prison.

In addition to criminal court charges, the company or individual from whom the money or property was embezzled can also sue you in civil court. The individual or company can treat you like a debtor once they get a judgment. They can garnish your wages, put a lien on your house (or force you to sell it) and levy your bank accounts.

Dewey P. Brinkley Is Ready To Defend You

Embezzlement is a serious crime with far-reaching consequences. If you’ve been accused of or charged with embezzlement, you need someone to defend you against the charges and in court—quickly.

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC who understands the criminal justice system, and how to defend you against embezzlement charges.

Call Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

 

Reasons Why A Juvenile May Be Prosecuted As An Adult In North Carolina

Minors who get into trouble for misdemeanors and “petty” crimes are usually dealt with through the juvenile justice system. This separate system is designed to offer rehabilitation and other services to those 16 and under who have broken the law. North Carolina considers anyone between the ages of 6 and 17 to be a “juvenile.”

Reasons Why Juvenile May Be Prosecuted As An Adult In North Carolina

Rather than incarceration, the juvenile justice system focuses on the child and the family, and includes education, community programs, and treatment. A stint in a juvenile detention facility may also be included. Juvenile records are usually sealed, meaning that the minor has a “fresh start” as an adult.

We previously discussed how juvenile crimes are treated differently in North Carolina. The adult court system focuses on punishment rather than rehabilitation, and has tougher punitive consequences such as fines and prison time. Even a conviction in adult court without jail time will mean a criminal record with long-term repercussions.

Currently, 16- and 17-year olds are automatically tried in adult court for even minor offenses, while younger individuals stay in the juvenile court system.

When A Minor Child Commits Adult Crimes

Juveniles of nearly any age can be charged as an adult if they have committed more serious crimes. Frequently, the judge is allowed to use his or her discretion in allowing a juvenile to be tried as an adult. A minor can be charged as an adult if:

  • The crime is more serious, requiring the child to be tried as an adult
  • The juvenile has been in trouble before and was previously tried as an adult (this is the “once an adult, always adult” mandate)
  • He or she understood the serious nature of the criminal act and the repercussions
  • The juvenile has a history of similar criminal acts

Charging and trying a minor child as an adult occurs for crimes such as murder, sexual assault, drug crimes and crimes involving a weapon.

Raising The Age

Until next month, juveniles over 16 charged are still automatically charged as adults. North Carolina is the last state in the US to “raise the age” for those in juvenile court from 16 to 18.

Effective December 1, 2019, anyone under the age of 18 facing a misdemeanor charge, or the state’s two lowest-level nonviolent felonies (break-ins and larceny) will be tried in Juvenile Court rather than as an adult.

This gives the 16- and 17-year olds the opportunity to access services available under the juvenile justice system. They have the choice and the chance to turn their lives around and avoid an adult criminal record before 18. Research shows that individuals who go through the juvenile justice system are less likely to commit crimes as an adult, which also lowers the adult crime rate.

Juveniles who are under 18 and are charged and arrested on more serious felonies will still be sent to Juvenile Court first. However, district attorneys will then have the option to move the cases to adult court either through a judge or a grand jury indictment. Those who were arrested and charged before the law takes effect will still be tried as adults under the previous system.

Raleigh’s Juvenile Court Attorney, Dewey P. Brinkley

If your child has been charged with a crime, your first goal should be to keep the case in juvenile court. You should also find a juvenile court attorney who can investigate the case and determine your chances at trial.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He can aggressively defend your child in juvenile or adult court against any criminal charges, major or minor. He will work to ensure a fair trial and that your child’s rights are protected.  Call today at 919-832-0307 or use our contact page to schedule your free consultation.

 

How A DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Current And Future Employment In Raleigh, NC

As we’ve mentioned before, DWI is a very expensive arrest, even if you’re innocent, or failed your field sobriety tests. From the moment you are arrested even for suspicion of DWI in Raleigh (or anywhere in North Carolina), you must defend yourself, your driver’s license, and your reputation. Each of these things will cost money.

But employment is one part of the DWI that most people don’t think about. Will you be fired? How will you get to work? What about your car? All these things come into play after you’re arrested and charged with DWI in North Carolina.

The Aftermath: Your Current Job

How A DWI Conviction Can Affect Your Current And Future Employment In Raleigh, NCDepending on where you’re employed and what you do now, you may or may not be terminated. North Carolina is an “at-will” employment state, where you can be terminated with or without a cause, and there may be a policy that a DWI or other criminal arrest is cause for immediate termination.

Depending on the company’s handbook and policies, you may be required to notify your company immediately (and you may still be terminated.) If they don’t find out from you, and find out from another employee or some other source, it could make a difference.

After your arrest, your driver’s license is immediately suspended for 12 months. You may be able to have limited driving privileges after 10 days for driving to and from work (if you are still employed.) In either case, you’ll have to find another way to get back and forth to work for a while.

If driving is an essential part of your job and requires you to have a commercial driver’s license, there is a good chance you will lose your CDL—and your job.

Any kind of professional licensure—medical, legal, professional pilot, or other license—requires that you report any arrests and/or convictions to the issuing agency. As a rule, you will lose your license, as well as your job.

Absenteeism may also be a factor. Court appearances and possible jail time will force you to miss work. Excessive absenteeism may be cause for termination.

Background Checks And Disclosures

If you’ve lost your job and are looking for another one, a DWI will most certainly show up on a background check. Arrest records are also public records, available to anyone who wants to find it.  Nearly everyone is checked, and if you don’t disclose something that shows up, you’ll lose any chance you may have had of being hired.

Take a proactive stance: get a background check on yourself and see what show up. You may discover other mistakes that will keep you from finding a job as well.

Jobs To Avoid After DWI

You will be ineligible for a number of different types of jobs after a DWI. They include:

  • Government jobs, including joining the military
  • Teaching jobs, daycare jobs and other jobs working with children
  • Jobs that involve handling highly confidential information
  • Driving jobs: bus and truck drivers, delivery drivers, outside sales jobs that involve driving and visiting customers

Interviewing And Getting A Job With A DWI In Your Record

A DWI doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never be able to work again. Despite the difficulties of a DWI, it is possible to interview and find another job post-conviction. But it does mean handling things differently.

Some companies may only ask about convictions, not arrests. In that case, you may not be required to disclose the arrest; ask your DWI attorney for clarification.

It’s best to mention it only if and when you are asked. While an experienced interviewer will likely not be surprised, make your explanation short and succinct, and include the steps you’ve taken afterwards, such as rehab or other corrective actions. Describe what led to the DUI and what you’ve learned from the experience, as well as other things you’ve done to restore your life. Mention that you’ve not driven after drinking since, and that you would never do anything to harm the company’s reputation.

If your case is dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial, you can also request an expunction, or removal from your record, meaning it would be as if your arrest and/or conviction had never happened. You can start the process immediately.

Expunction isn’t available for a DWI conviction.

DWI Defense

A DWI charge is always serious, and can lead to serious employment implications now and in the future.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh DWI defense attorney who can aggressively defend you against DWI charges and protect your rights in the courtroom. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your DWI case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

Is Entering An Unlocked Door Considered Breaking And Entering?

Most people think of “breaking and entering” as a broken window, a pried-open door, or the kicked-in door characteristic in home invasions. It’s literally using force to break into a home or place of business and called “breaking and entering” for a reason. Generally, you don’t have permission to be on the premises, and you’re there for the sole purpose of committing a crime. Since most people and businesses lock their doors, getting in takes some type of criminal action to overcome the locks.

But what if the door was unlocked?

The Definition Of Breaking & Entering

At one time, the term simply meant that—physically breaking into a home or business using force, even if no crime was committed.Is Entering An Unlocked Door Considered Breaking And Entering?

Today’s charges apply to any unlawful entry into a dwelling anytime, day or night, without permission, and with the intent to commit a crime. Like most states, North Carolina has expanded the definition of “breaking and entering” to include walking into a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime.

This means that even entering through an unlocked door or opening and crawling through a window that’s partially opened is a crime if the individual didn’t have permission to be there and was trespassing. Breaking and entering is also a separate charge from burglary, and you can be charged for it even if you committed no other crime.

North Carolina law includes “felonious breaking and entering,” in which an individual not only enters a building without permission, but has the intent to steal, or injure and/or intimidate an individual inside the dwelling.

  • Penalties are harsher for individuals who break and enter into a house of worship, i.e., a church, synagogue, mosque, or other worship center.

Charges Associated With Breaking & Entering

Different charges are applied depending on the intent.

For an individual who breaks into a building for shelter, but has no intent to commit theft, they will likely be charged with second-degree trespassing. If the individual has been warned to stay off the property, or enters a building that’s fenced in or otherwise closed, they will likely be charged with first-degree trespass, a more serious offense.

  • Trespassing on property belonging to a utility company if the trespass placed anyone at risk of being injured, or if they intended to disrupt operations (such as a power or water company)
  • Trespassing at the home of a former or estranged spouse or domestic partner is also punished more severely if the other party asked them to leave, especially if they are in a shelter for domestic violence

If the intent for theft can be proven, the individual can be charged with burglary even if he or she didn’t actually commit the crime.

If the dwelling is occupied at the time of the break and enter, the individual is charged with first-degree burglary. If the dwelling isn’t occupied at the time of the break and enter, the charge is second-degree burglary. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-51.)

North Carolina also considers it a crime to break into a building, and open a safe, vault or “other secure place” using explosives, or break into a vehicle, including a car, boat, trailer, etc.

Defend Yourself Against Breaking & Entering

Being charged with breaking and entering doesn’t always follow with a conviction.

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC. Before working as a defense attorney, he was a Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He understands the criminal justice system, and can represent you for a wide range of criminal charges.

Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal defense case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.

 

Are All Raleigh, NC Traffic Tickets Public Record?

Maybe you were speeding, buzzed through a stop sign, or made an illegal left turn somewhere while in an unfamiliar area. However, it happened, you find yourself with a traffic ticket.

It might seem like a small thing, but Raleigh, NC traffic tickets can add points to your driving record. Enough points can suspend your license. But are they public record that anyone can find?

A Ticket Is A Court Case

Police officer pulling a blue car over on the side of the road to give them Raleigh, NC traffic tickets.Anytime you’re issued a traffic ticket, you’re given a court date to appear. You can hire a traffic ticket attorney and have them take care of it. This, of course, is depending on the charge and severity. For instance, running a stop sign is not as severe as a DUI or vehicular manslaughter, for which you will be required to go to court, and possibly spend time in jail. But they will all have a court date.

A “waivable” traffic ticket is one you can pay the fine for and be done with it. This means that you’ll waive your right to trial, plead guilty, and accept the points and or other consequences of that ticket. This only applies to charges like minor traffic and equipment violations, not something more serious like DUI.

Can Anybody Find My Ticket?

Yes, but it’s not as easy as you think.

Only someone who has a “vested interest” can find your Raleigh, NC traffic tickets upon request, if they have the required information needed to find it. These individuals must agree to the website’s terms of service.

Anyone requesting the information online will be required to read and certify:

I certify under penalty of law that I am entitled to personal information from the requested driving record under one or more of the permissible uses listed in the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act.*

I am aware that there are federal criminal and civil penalties for knowingly obtaining, disclosing or using this personal information for a purpose not permitted under DPPA (18 U.S.C. Sections 2721-2724).

I also understand that North Carolina G.S. 20-43.1 prohibits someone from obtaining personal information from a driver record by purposely or knowingly misrepresenting his or her identity or the use for which he or she is seeking that information. Anyone who does so may be charged with felony tampering with a public record.

While your personal information (name, address, etc.) are not publicly available under Chapter 123, Section 2721 of the U.S. Code (Driver Privacy Protection Act), and N.C. G.S. 20-43.1, some parties and/or entities can access your driving record (including personal information), some personal information may be disclosed upon request. They include:

  • You, the driver, to receive your own driving record
  • Insurance companies, for rating or underwriting, claims, and anti-fraud activities
  • Employers to verify information for commercial drivers’ licenses
  • Private toll operations, to identify drivers
  • To notify owners of towed or impounded vehicles
  • In the course of normal business (conditions apply)

The entire list of interested parties who can access your driving record can be found on North Carolina’s DOT website.

Caveat—Lawyer Advertising

The NC Department of Public Safety states on its website that if you receive an unsolicited letter from an attorney offering help with your traffic ticket, it’s the result of getting your name from the Clerk of Superior Court, and has nothing to do with the officer who issued it.

Need Help With Raleigh, NC Traffic Tickets?

If you’ve received a traffic ticket and would like to learn more about your options, contact our offices any time or call 919-832-0307. Dewey P. Brinkley is Raleigh’s leading traffic ticket attorney, and can help neutralize the effects of traffic tickets on your driving record.

What Does The Term “Simple Affray” Mean In Raleigh, NC Court Cases?

It was supposed to be a fun night out, but it ended badly.

Maybe you went to a concert, a bar, or somewhere else with a gathering of other people. Somehow, you found yourself in a fight situation. You may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or you ran into someone you knew. Maybe you or someone else had a little too much to drink and it went wrong while waiting for the Uber.

All you know is that at the end of the night, you were charged with something called “simple affray.”

What It Means

Simple affray is a term used to describe a fight situation—whether threatening to fight someone, or actually instigating violence and throwing punches, and creating a situation that can escalate into something bigger.

one man holding another back from in a bar during an example of a simple affray in Raleigh, NCIn North Carolina, simple affray means that you have committed three things:

  1. You’ve engaged in a fight with another person (this includes self-defense)
  2. This fight took place publicly, in a public place
  3. By engaging in this fight, you’ve caused terror to the public

You can also be charged with simple affray even if you didn’t throw a punch, and weren’t responsible for starting the fight. Inciting a fight (“egging them on”) can also lead to this charge, as well as leading members of the public to believe that they are in danger as a result.

Additionally, if you do throw a punch, even in self-defense, you can also be charged with simple assault.

The Charge

Simple affray in Raleigh, NC is considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor. It is, however, a criminal charge, not a civil one. Victims may have suffered minor injuries that don’t require medical attention.

This charge is designed to punish individuals for not only engaging in violence but also provoking others to do so. Police use this charge to keep the peace when there is the potential for a more dangerous situation, including rioting.

Defense Against Simple Affray

Locating witnesses who can corroborate your side of events as well as offer additional information on what led to the affray, is a good start to building your defense.

Because many venues and public areas now have video surveillance, sending a subpoena for that information is essential to supporting your defense and testimony. Other witnesses can also be identified from video, as well as other aspects of the incident that witnesses and participants may not be aware of already.

Finding strong defense counsel right away can help build your defense and uncover what really happened.

Consequences

For a first offense Class 2 misdemeanor conviction, you can expect to spend from one to 30 days in jail. For subsequent convictions, the jail time can be as high as 60 days, along with fines of up to $1,000.

More severe assaults that lead to injuries are punished more harshly, including ones that involve weapons, domestic violence, serious injury or sexual battery. The state imposes harsher penalties when the assault involves:

  • Females, when the assailant is a male over 18
  • Sports officials—empires, coaches and referees at any organized sports event
  • State employees and officers, public transit operators, campus and/or private security officers, if the assault occurs while they are acting in their official capacity
  • School employees and volunteers (public, private or charter) who are on school property, in the middle of a school event, or are transporting students to or from school

Let Dewey P. Brinkley Defend You For Simple Affray

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney. If you’re charged with simple affray, he can defend you in criminal court and work for the best possible outcome. Call Mr. Brinkley today at 919-832-0307 or use our contact page to schedule your free consultation.

 

 

How To Fight A Raleigh, NC Traffic Ticket

A traffic ticket can be one of those minor annoyances that are part of everyday life in the Tarheel State. But getting a traffic ticket can also cost more than a little fine. Depending on the charge, your insurance could go up, and you’ll likely have an increase of points on your driver’s license. (More than 12 points, and your license could be suspended.) If you drive for a living, you could lose your job as well as your license.

Sometimes, drivers have been known to talk their way out of a ticket. But that’s not always an option.

While it’s tempting to just pay it and be done with it, you may not want to do that. But how do you go about fighting a Raleigh, NC traffic ticket? It takes a little time and effort, but it can be done, successfully.

Dispute The Officer’s Subjective Judgement/Conclusion

If you were in a situation where the officer was required to make a judgment call as to whether or not you violated the law, you may be able to levy a challenge. Was the officer in an ideal location to observe your actions when giving you a Raleigh, NC traffic ticket?

Dispute The Officer’s Observations

Police office going over to a motorcyclist to give them a Raleigh, NC traffic ticketWhile a police officer’s observation and opinion is frequently the prevailing one, evidence may be used to prove your side of the story:

  • Witness statements who can substantiate your version of the events (these would be passengers, bystanders or anyone else who was a witness)
  • Drawings and/or diagrams of the area where the ticket was issued, including the locations of your vehicle as well as the officer’s. Include locations such as stop signs, other vehicles, traffic signals and other landmarks.
  • Photographs of the area where you were stopped and ticketed, including road conditions, obstructions, and anything else that can prove your version of events.
  • Additional evidence that would dispute the officer’s ability to correctly observe your alleged violation.

The “Mistake Of Fact” Defense

Old, faded or hidden stop signs, or other markings that aren’t readily visible can mean that even the most attentive drivers miss something. Because the sign or instructions weren’t clear to the driver, (especially something like a stop sign that’s hidden behind a tree, branch or other obstruction) you weren’t given notice of the conduct that was expected. Under these circumstances, a judge may dismiss your ticket as a “mistake of fact.”

If you find yourself in this situation, taking pictures of the hidden sign or other invisible signage is essential to proving your case.

“Legal Necessity” For Your Actions

Should you find yourself in a situation where you needed to pull over, speed up or slow down to avoid an accident, injury or other danger, you may be able to use this defense. Rather than disputing the officer’s testimony, you’ll introduce another legal point which may be successful.

For instance, if your vehicle began making a loud noise, or suddenly stops operating, you stop in the middle of the road to avoid harming other drivers and causing an accident. Or you swerve and/or speed up to avoid another vehicle that’s out of control or an unexpected object. If you’ve ever swerved to avoid a bag or a box in the road, you understand this.

Of course, you’ll also need evidence, such as pictures, repair bills, witness statements, or other documentation in order to prove your defense.

Winning By Default

Police officers sometimes don’t show up for court. If this happens, and your ticket is dismissed, pat yourself on the back. Make sure you don’t owe any fines or court costs before you leave the courthouse, or you’ll be in for another surprise later.

You Can Fight A Raleigh, NC Traffic Ticket

Don’t fight a ticket alone, especially if you already have points on your license. Keep your license and your driving record clear with the right help. Dewey P. Brinkley is ready to help you fight back against a traffic ticket and keep your driving record clear. Call him today at 919-832-0307 or contact him online to schedule your free consultation.