How Bad Is A “Disorderly Conduct” Charge In Raleigh, NC?

Of all the things a person could be charged with, “disorderly conduct” sounds rather tame. Another name for it is “disturbing the peace.”

But if it happens to you, realize that it’s because a police officer interpreted your conduct—whatever it was—as a disturbance. When you reach trial, it will be up to a judge to determine if what you were doing actually was disorderly conduct. That’s where a criminal defense attorney can make the difference.

Take even a first-time charge seriously. However tame it sounds, you could still be convicted, serve time in jail, pay fines, and walk away with a criminal record.

What North Carolina Considers Disorderly Conduct

North Carolina Code §14-288.4How Bad Is A "Disorderly Conduct" Charge In Raleigh, NC? describes disorderly conduct as “a public disturbance intentionally caused by any person” who commits any one of a number of described actions, such as:

  • Fighting or other violent activity
  • Abusive language, including abusive gestures
  • Overtaking school premises without permission
  • Refusing to leave a building after being asked to by either law enforcement or other administrator
  • Interfering with or otherwise disrupting the teaching of students in any educational environment
  • Congregating in any fashion after being told not to by law enforcement or other administrators
  • Disturbing the peace on a school bus
  • Interfering with or otherwise disturbing any religious activity

“Failing to disperse” is a similar charge that is sometimes used when three or more individuals do not leave as ordered by law enforcement after a period of time or creates the risk of injury to another person.

What Happens If I’m Arrested?

When you or a family member is charged with disorderly conduct and/or failure to disperse, it’s important to act quickly to be ready for a court appearance, and with good legal representation.

After your arrest, a judge may require you to post bail to leave, depending on any prior convictions you may have, and if the judge considers you to be a flight risk. If not, you may be released on a promise to appear for your court date without bail.

Right away, it’s time to find and retain legal counsel to begin building your defense. You need to be represented in court by someone who will defend you against the charges and give you the best chance at a positive outcome.

Convictions And Sentencing

For a first offense, you may be required to pay a fine without jail time. However, the judge’s discretion determines your sentencing.

Since Disorderly Conduct is a Class 2 misdemeanor, it’s possible to be sentenced to 60 days in jail with a $1,000 fine for a first offense. Second offenses are classified as a Class 1 felony, increasing jail time to as much as 12 months in prison. Third and subsequent offenses become Class H felonies, with as much as 25 months in prison.

If convicted, a criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor, or possibly dismissed outright.

Defending Yourself

When you find yourself in charged with disorderly conduct, remember to:

  • Never resist arrest, even if you’re wrongly charged—that’s a separate charge for which you can be convicted
  • Strongly exercise your right to remain silent, and only speak with your lawyer, no one else. Literally, anything you say can (and likely will) be used against you later.
  • Find and retain a skilled and experienced Raleigh criminal defense lawyer who will investigate your case and create a compelling and persuasive defense strategy to have your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.

Gather any available evidence that can prove your innocence as well, from digital information such as GPS coordinates, texts, and emails to physical evidence such as photographs, tickets, or other information that can positively prove your whereabouts at the time the crime was committed. Your attorney can use them when building your defense.

Call Dewey P. Brinkley For Disorderly Conduct Charges

False accusations do happen, but even if you have committed a crime, a strong defense is your best chance 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. He has considerable experience defending those charged with disorderly conduct and works for the best possible outcome. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.

Technology-Facilitated Cyberstalking Charges In Raleigh, NC

Our increasingly technical society has changed the way we do nearly everything. From banking to grocery shopping and even working, technology is a big part of everyday life—especially now, with Zoom conferences and online collaboration platforms like Slack and Asana. As we learn how to use each new app and tool and find ways to live and work better, others have discovered ways to misuse technology to their ill intent.

Cyberstalking Defined

Technology-facilitated stalking, commonly known as “cyberstalking,” is the act of stalking another individual with the addition of technology, including:

  • Smartphones and other mobile devices
  • GPS devices (for following individuals while driving)
  • Phone calls
  • Social media messages
  • Emails
  • Hacking into a victim’s online account, whether email, financial, or other accounts

Technology-Facilitated Stalking Defense Attorney In Raleigh, NCCyberstalking can also be from different individuals known to the victim, such as neighbors, friends of friends, relatives, or coworkers, or may even be strangers. Whatever the case, an individual who is a target of cyberstalking finds themselves experiencing a persisting and strategic campaign of different types of online abuse intended to harass, threaten, and humiliate an individual to control and intimidate a victim. Other forms of abuse include financial abuse and an attempt to isolate the victim from supportive family and friends.

A cyberstalker can be anyone from a casual acquaintance to someone well known, or someone you’ve never met. Many cases of stalking and cyberstalking are from former spouses, domestic partners, or significant others, like the recent case of Dr. Aime Hardwick in California. While Dr. Hardwick had previously obtained a restraining order against ex-boyfriend Gareth Pursehouse, it had expired just two weeks before her death. Pursehouse had repeatedly stalked Dr. Hardwick for over ten years, followed her around in public as well as online. Repeated attempts to stop his endless stalking and harassment failed.

North Carolina Laws On Cyberstalking

North Carolina considers stalking to be when an individual willfully harasses another on more than two occasions without any legal reason, and:

  • Causes the individual to fear for themselves, a family member, or another person they are close to (such as a spouse or partner)
  • Or causes extreme fear in a person for bodily injury, death, or persistent and recurrent harassment

North Carolina General Statute 14-196.3 states:

  • The use of email or other electronic communications (including social media) is deployed to threaten a person, a relative (spouse, children, etc.) to extort property and/or money
  • Using email or other electronic media to threaten, abuse, or otherwise harass an individual, even when there is no conversation
  • Emailing an individual or a family member with false statements regarding criminal or indecent conduct, injury, illness, disfigurement, or death with the intent to terrify, threaten, or otherwise abuse.
  • Knowingly placing an electronic tracking device under a victim’s control (such as on a car or in a woman’s purse) to monitor their locations (exceptions for law enforcement, fleet vehicles, and other legitimate purposes.) This can include an individual who intentionally allows a cyberstalker to use his or her device to harass another person, such as a smartphone or tablet.

Social media can include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. North Carolina law does not require that the victim believe the threatening statements, or that the “reasonable person” would believe them.

Technology-related stalking, or cyberstalking, is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A conviction can bring 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

If You Are Charged With Cyberstalking

Much will depend on the circumstances and facts surrounding the arrest. Should you find yourself charged with cyberstalking, there may be defenses available, even if you are technically “guilty.” The charges may be reduced to something less serious. A conviction will leave you with a criminal record and the consequences that come with it.

For a free consultation regarding your stalking or cyberstalking charges with the lawyers at the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley, call our Raleigh law office immediately at 919-832-0307 to make an appointment. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and will begin building a strong and effective defense for you.

What’s The Difference Between Trespassing And Criminal Trespassing In Raleigh, NC?

 

Being charged with trespassing is, to any degree, a criminal charge in North Carolina. But you may not realize that there are two forms of trespassing. It’s essential to know the difference, and what you may be facing if you’re charged with one or both of them.

Trespassing Defined

On a basic level, trespassing is the act of intentionally going onto someone’s land without permission. You shouldn’t be there, you may see the posted signs, or someone has asked you to leave. While you may accidentally and unintentionally walk onto someone’s property at some point, bypassing signs that say “no trespassing” and going where you’ve been asked not to demonstrates intent, which makes the difference.

North Carolina has more than one type of trespass, which includes criminal trespassing. Here we discuss the differences.

First Degree Trespass (Criminal Trespass)

This Class 2 misdemeanor means that the state will be required to prove that a person not only entered the property but remained there and that the building or property was enclosed or secured that made it evident that the owner intended to keep people out of place. The penalties for this degree of trespassing is a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

What's the difference between trespassing and criminal trespassing in Raleigh, NC.?

The penalties increase to 150 days in jail along with a fine to be decided by a judge if:

  • The facility is owned by a utility, such as a:
    • Public waterworks
    • Natural gas entity
    • Electric power supplier
  • The individual breached a fence, wall, or other barriers to access the facility.

A trespasser can be imprisoned for up to 39 months if:

  • The individual accessed the facility intending to disrupt the facility’s operations.
  • The act of trespassing places the individual and/or others at risk for serious bodily injuries.

The act of trespassing then becomes a Class H felony.

Second Degree Trespass

This is a lesser charge of trespassing, such as being notified by an owner or authorized person (i.e., store manager) to leave or not enter the property or stays on the premises despite the posted signs warning intruders or others to stay out of the property. Although still a criminal trespass, a conviction for second-degree trespass is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor, accompanied by a $200 fine and 20 days in jail.

Domestic Criminal Trespass

As the name indicates, this type of criminal trespass involves one party accessing or entering the property of a former spouse or domestic partner where he or she is no longer welcome and refuses to leave the property.

A person cannot just claim domestic criminal trespass; he or she will be required to prove it according to the state statute (N.C.G.S. §14-134.3), by:

  • Showing that both parties have separate residences
  • A court order requiring the party to stay away from the premises
  • An agreement between the two parties to live separately
  • An order of legal separation

Conviction of domestic criminal trespass is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor and a fine at the judge’s discretion.

However, if the property in question is a “safe house or haven for victims of domestic violence and the person is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the offense,” an individual will be charged with a Class G felony. A conviction for a Class G felony entails a maximum jail time of 47 months.

Don’t Ignore A Trespassing Charge

Even as a misdemeanor, a conviction of any type of trespassing can have long-ranging consequences that impact your life, including a criminal record.

If you’ve been charged with trespassing, call the law offices of 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.

 

Types of Traffic Violations in Raleigh, NC

Most Tarheel State residents are familiar with DWI, or Driving While Impaired, which is the charge for someone driving a motor vehicle while or after drinking alcohol. But even for drivers who have never had a drop of alcohol before, there are still a range of traffic violations that can be as serious as a DWI—and about as expensive.

But if you’re not familiar with some of the charges that you can receive on a ticket, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common charges. You should be aware of these violations and have some understanding should you find yourself speaking to a police officer.

Driving Without A License

There are two versions of this ticket:

  • Driving Without A Valid License, when you are unable to produce a license or your license has expired. This charge is also levied against individuals from foreign countries who fail to obtain a legal NC driver’s permit, and can include harsh penalties.
  • Driving With A Revoked License, a class 2 misdemeanor that can add 3 points to your driving record and increase your insurance as much as 25%. You could also face high fines and possibly jail time for this charge.

Careless & Reckless Driving

This charge usually includes speeding, but is used anytime a driver operates their vehicle in an unsafe or irresponsible fashion. This charge can lead to a suspended license.

Types of Traffic Violations in Raleigh, NC

Exceeding Posted Speed

Not a “speeding” charge, it’s a lesser charge that can escalate your insurance rates.

Speeding

This common citation can include both fines and points on your driving record as well as dramatically increase your insurance rates.

Failure To Stop For/Passing A Stopped School Bus

This is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with the possibility of 120 days in jail or community service and driving school. The charge includes a $500 fine and $190 court costs, and it must be paid before renewing your license and vehicle registrations for all your vehicles. You’ll gain five points on your driving record and four on your insurance record for this one, with the potential for an 80% increase.

Hit & Run

It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in NC, as well as many other states. After an accident, all drivers are required to stop and wait for police. You’re also required to exchange information with all other drivers, and ensure that any injured parties receive necessary medical attention.

If you must leave the scene of the accident to notify police, get immediate medical attention, or prevent further injury to yourself or other parties, you must return to the scene within a reasonable period of time or face charges.

North Carolina sees hit & run as both a misdemeanor and a felony, depending on the severity of the accident. Penalties range from fines and 120 days in jail to a Class H or Class F felony, with high fines and as much as 41 months in jail.

DWI, Driving While Inebriated (Including Provisional DWI)

We discuss this charge in-depth on our website, as well as in a number of blog posts. North Carolina has some of the harshest DWI laws in the US, with high fines and jail time for those convicted.

Ignoring It Will Not Make It Go Away

Even for the most minor violations that you might think are “no big deal,” you must pay attention and take care of a ticket. Some may not require you to appear in court, others will. But ignoring the citation altogether will it will cost more to get your license restored if you get to the point of suspension. Read your ticket carefully and understand instructions for payment before you find yourself with additional issues like:

  • Failing to appear for a speeding ticket adds a $200 fine
  • Eventual license suspension for failing to appear and pay a fine for speeding
  • A warrant for your arrest
  • Additional points

It’s also not wise to pay the fine and be done with it—that’s an admission of guilt, and can raise your insurance rates as well. A Raleigh traffic ticket attorney can inform you of all your legal options.

Points Add Up

Different charges come with different amounts of points that are added to your driving record. Rack up enough of them, and you may be assigned to a “driver improvement clinic.” If you continue to rack up points, your driver’s license can be outright suspended:

  • First suspension: 60 days
  • Second suspension: 6 months
  • Third suspension: 12 months

Points are cancelled after the license is reinstated.

Insurance rates can also escalate, and additional fines and fees may be required to reinstate your license.

One option is to request a reduction of your charge to a lower ranking citation. If the court agrees, you could avoid having points added to your driving record.

Defense For Traffic Violations

Even with minor charges, traffic violations can cost money and cause trouble later. Ignoring a traffic ticket can bring additional problems than if you’d dealt with it at the outset, so get help.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a Raleigh traffic ticket defense attorney who can aggressively defend you against traffic tickets of all types—including DWI—and protect your rights in court. 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

Long-Term Effects Of A Juvenile Crime Conviction In North Carolina

If you or your child are become entangled in the juvenile court system, you may be concerned as to how this will affect his or her life longer-term. Like an adult (over 18) who commits a crime, there are repercussions that could persist long after his or her 18th birthday, sometimes called “collateral consequences.”

What Is A Juvenile?

Long-Term Effects Of A Juvenile Crime Conviction In North CarolinaAs of December 2019, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a juvenile. The state’s “Raise The Age” initiative took 16- and 17-year old out of the adult court for most misdemeanors and moved them into the juvenile justice system. So now this age group has the chance for a “clean slate” at the age of 18, and the chance to start over, just as if they were 15 and under.

Additionally, the juvenile justice system in North Carolina (as is in most of the US) focuses on rehabilitation, rather than retribution, although incarceration figures into both. Youths are sent to “correctional facilities” rather than prisons. The idea is that the juveniles will be re-educated to become productive members of society, rather than continually cycling through the criminal justice system.

Social Stigma

It’s no secret that juvenile males are more likely to commit crimes than females, and they are arrested more often than females. Juveniles don’t always make the best decisions, particularly quick decisions.

Going through the juvenile justice system is expensive for parents, and if they are unable to pay the high-dollar costs of fines and rehabilitation, the charges may follow him or her into adulthood. Because the individual lacks the education, he or she may find themselves unable to find anything but low-paying employment.

An adolescent with a record may be labeled as a “criminal” may face social retribution from family, friends, and others in the community. Some juvenile criminals continue into a life of crime and stay there their entire lives.

Education And Employment

Because more than 60% of colleges and universities include questions about an applicant’s criminal history on their application, juvenile delinquents have a distinct disadvantage for both higher education and employment. While it’s not impossible, it can be difficult to get into higher learning with a criminal history as a juvenile. Many are more likely to ascent to two-year programs rather than four-year programs. However, many arrestees are more likely to drop out of high school, long before they’re anywhere near the point of applying to college or a trade school.

Companies that offer jobs to teenage applicants may be put off by an arrest and/or conviction of a juvenile, and many occupations may prohibit someone with a juvenile arrest record from participating.

Future Income

A study by Eric Hyla at Illinois Wesleyan University notes that youths with an arrest make, on average, reduces their income $6,000 than their peers who had no criminal convictions. This figure is only for one arrest, and doesn’t take into account multiple arrests. The study also shows that children who grow up with more affluent parents tend to have higher incomes later in life despite an arrest.

However, when education is included, the youth’s future income increases by $3,000 with one year of education. Individuals who were not arrested had two additional years to devote to education, and a conviction of a juvenile conviction does not necessarily impact future income if education is included. Without it, future earnings can be significantly impacted, especially if the juvenile continues committing crimes as an adult.

Housing

If the juvenile’s family lives in public housing, it’s very likely that they will be evicted because of the arrest.

Private housing (such as a rental home or apartment complex) may also have a clause that includes activity that affects the well-being of the community. Any criminal activity can put the family in jeopardy of violating the terms of the lease, leading to evictions.

When the juvenile becomes an adult, it’s also likely that they will have difficulty obtaining housing for themselves and their families.

Dewey P. Brinkley, Raleigh’s Juvenile Court Attorney

If your child has been charged with a crime, your first goal should be to keep the case from moving into adult criminal court. You should also find a juvenile court attorney who can investigate 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 Misdemeanor Charges Can Have A Major Impact On Your Life

Many people don’t think much of it if they find themselves charged with a misdemeanor crime. You may believe that a misdemeanor is on the same level as a parking ticket, but it isn’t. If you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor, your life can still be severely impacted. Although it isn’t as serious as a felony, a misdemeanor is still a crime, and you should take it seriously.

Defining The Misdemeanor

How Misdemeanor Charges Can Have A Major Impact On Your LifeNorth Carolina divides misdemeanors into four categories: A1, 1, 2, and 3. These will depend on the seriousness of the offense you’re charged with, and can rage from simple marijuana possession to things like larceny (theft) and property damage.

  • Category 3 incurs a maximum fine of $200 and up to 20 days jail time
  • Category 2 incurs a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 60 days jail time
  • Category 1 incurs a “discretionary” fine and up to 120 days jail time
  • Category A1 incurs a “discretionary” fine and up to 150 days jail time

Can you afford to go to jail for 1 to 20 days? Chances are your employer will terminate you, and you’ll have a much more difficult time finding another job after a conviction.

Of course, the outcome of your case will depend on a number of different factors, including your criminal record or lack thereof, the facts of the case, and any agreements you and your defense attorney reach with the district attorney’s office. Some charges, such as minor traffic infractions, will incur no jail time.

How A Misdemeanor Can Cause Problems Later

Conviction of a misdemeanor still means that you have a criminal conviction, and you when asked, you will have to disclose your criminal record, whether it’s a single conviction or more than one.

Misdemeanor charges stay on your record, and nearly always show up on a background check. No matter how old they are, an employer will eventually find out about it once they request it. This means that a criminal conviction will show up on background checks related to:

  • Job applications
  • License applications
  • Housing applications (such as apartment complexes and other rental properties)
  • Mortgage loan applications
  • Student financial aid applications

A misdemeanor may prevent you from applying for and being hired for certain types of jobs, and restrict where you can live.

There may be occasions where an old county-level conviction may not show up in another county, or on a state level. But you should never assume that it won’t show up on a background check, especially for an employer.

Even for the most minor infractions such as simple affray, you should retain defense counsel against a misdemeanor charge. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will have a criminal record, no different than if you’d committed a more serious or violent felony. Like a felony, the misdemeanor will follow you around for the rest of your life.

Expungement

Criminal convictions in North Carolina of any kind do not automatically disappear from your record, no matter how old they are.

Texas, California and several other states have a “seven-year rule,” meaning that any records that are more than 7 years old will not show up in a background check. However, North Carolina has no such rule, but you can request to have an old record cleared with an expungement.

If you were arrested and/or convicted of a misdemeanor many years ago and have not had any other charges since then, it is possible to have your case expunged, or removed, from your record. Even if you were arrested and charged but found not guilty, a record still exists of this action.

Once you apply for an expungement and the court grants it, you will no longer have a criminal record, and you can legally answer the question about your criminal record with a confident “no.”

The rules surrounding expungement are complex. That’s important to discuss a possible expungement of your misdemeanor case with a criminal defense attorney so you can start the process and get on with your life.

Let Dewey P. Brinkley Defend You Against A Misdemeanor

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney who understands the law and the Raleigh court system. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor like simple assault or disorderly conduct, no matter how minor, 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 Serious Are Drug Related Charges In Raleigh, NC?

More than 45% of imprisoned people in the US are in jail because of drug charges, about half a million people nationwide, roughly one in five. Drug charges are also one of the main reasons for incarceration in North Carolina.

When most people think of drug charges, they usually think of felony charges such as production and distribution. But since North Carolina law contains very harsh penalties for drug charges, even a misdemeanor can be a serious offense.

Types Of Charges

How Serious Are Drug Related Charges In Raleigh, NC?Generally, North Carolina has two types of drug charges: trafficking and possession, which are also graded by the type of drug involved. Possession is a lesser charge than trafficking, but both can carry very strict penalties, including fines. Possession of drug paraphernalia is also a reason you can be arrested, even if you have no drugs at the time of your arrest.

Misdemeanors are usually considered “minor,” such as simple possession of marijuana, and can lead to smaller fines and the potential for short jail sentences for first offenses. However, subsequent misdemeanors can bring additional jail time.

Charges and jail time are also related to the amount of a drug on your person at the time of your arrest. For instance, if you are carrying less than 28 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II drug, you’ll be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, and can spend six to twelve months in jail. But if you have more than 28 grams of cocaine, you’ll be charged with drug trafficking instead, which can also lead to federal charges, steeper fines and much longer jail sentences.

Schedule of Drugs

North Carolina divides drugs up into schedules, set out by the Controlled Substances Act. At the top of the schedule is Schedule 1 for the most serious of drugs that have no medical use and a high risk of abuse and addiction (opiates, ecstasy, and others) and are charged as a Class 1 Felony. On the bottom, Schedule VI drugs are a Class 3 Misdemeanor, and are for low-level substances such as marijuana and hashish, with a lower potential for addiction and abuse.

However, even small amounts of marijuana are grounds for arrest, and a misdemeanor conviction can lead to jail time, as little as 30 days or as long as six months. Felony drug charges can mean years of prison time, as well as high fines.

Consequences Of Drug Charges

An arrest and conviction for drug charges can lead to serious consequences, including:

  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of professional licensure (i.e., doctor, nurse, lawyer, pilot, etc.)
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Difficulty finding housing (i.e., renting an apartment)
  • Inability to obtain federal benefits such as student financial aid for tuition and housing assistance
  • Child custody issues, including loss of visitation

Anywhere you are asked, you will be required to state that you have an arrest record, even for a misdemeanor.

Prior drug arrests can also increase fines and jail sentences. Convictions will permanently disrupt your life, and prevent you from seeking and accepting opportunities that you might have had otherwise.

Having a Raleigh drug charge defense attorney to represent you will ensure that you receive a fair trial. If you’re innocent, it’s vital that you are represented in court by an experienced lawyer who can mount an aggressive defense and ensure that your rights are protected.

Dewey P. Brinkley For Drug Related Charges in Raleigh

North Carolina drug laws are complex, and no two cases are alike. Handling drug charges yourself, without legal representation, increases your chance of losing your case and potentially receiving considerable jail time. No matter what kind of drug charges you’re facing, it’s important to have strong legal representation when you’re facing a judge and possible jail time.

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. He has considerable experience defending those charged with drug offenses and works for the best possible outcome. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.

What’s Involved In A Domestic Violence Case In North Carolina?

In the US, between one and three million people experience an incidence of domestic violence every year. Although the victims are primarily women, a significant number of men experience domestic violence as well, and it cuts across class, race, and other groups of people. North Carolina saw more than 16,000 individuals sent to an emergency shelter. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that twenty people are assaulted every minute by someone with whom they have an intimate and/or familial relationship. These numbers are just the cases that are reported, because there are many more cases that are not.

What Is Domestic Violence?

A Domestic Violence Case In North Carolina?North Carolina defines it as committing an act against another person with whom the offender has or had a personal relationship, or the child of that person:

  • Attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury
  • Giving a victim the fear of imminent danger or bodily injury and/or continual harassment to the point of causing great emotional distress
  • Sex crimes such as:
    • Rape, 1st or 2nd degree
    • Sexual battery
    • Sex crimes against children, including statutory rape

North Carolina has expanded the law to include dating relationships as well.

Many of these crimes are already covered by other statutes, and are prosecuted that way. However, when they are suitable for domestic violence cases, judges have additional options for conditions of probation including medical or psychiatric treatments, drug or alcohol treatments and house arrest with limitations.

Civil And Criminal

Although domestic violence is part of civil law, criminal charges can also be levied. In a domestic violence case where an assault was committed, the perpetrator will be prosecuted for assault. A case that involved rape or a similar charge would be prosecuted as a sex crimes case.

Victims also have civil remedies available to them, such as concealing their addresses from the defendant. Additionally, a victim can file a civil suit against the defendant similar to a personal injury lawsuit to recover medical expenses, damages, lost wages and pain and suffering. Child custody and alimony orders may also be modified after charges and/or a conviction.

Protective Orders

A person who is in fear of an incident of domestic violence against themselves and/or their children can request an emergency protective order (sometimes called a “restraining order”) that issues a range of conditions against the defendant. These conditions can include orders of no contact, prohibit him or her from being in or near the home, award temporary child custody, visitation, and child support payments, as well as prohibit further harassment or abuse of the individual, any children, as well as any pets.

Protective orders can be valid for a year, but the party who filed for the order can also request an extension of up to two years.

Violations of these orders can range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges, depending on what a defendant does in the process. If he or she commits a felony while violating a protective order, they will be charged one level higher. Police will not need to obtain an arrest warrant under the circumstances.

False Charges Of Domestic Violence

Despite the statistics, there are cases where domestic violence charges are false, particularly against spouses in the middle of divorce proceedings.

If this is the case, your divorce attorney may offer to handle it for you. However, it’s better to have a criminal defense attorney handle it instead, since a divorce attorney concentrates on family matters. Gather up any evidence for your case, especially written and electronic communications, witness statements and other proof of your innocence to give to your criminal defense attorney to build your case.

Domestic Violence Is A Serious Charge

If you’ve been charged with any form of domestic violence, you must have a strong defense when going to trial. Without it, you could be facing jail time.

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC who can defend you against charges of domestic violence. 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.

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.