Tag Archives: criminal defense lawyer in raleigh

Can Social Media Posts Be Used As Evidence In Raleigh, NC Court Cases?

Many users post to social media without considering that their words, pictures, or other content could have adverse consequences. Most people like to post pictures of food, their pets, children, or discuss other everyday things. But sometimes what you post can have serious repercussions.

If you are involved in a court case—whether criminal, family law (including divorce and child custody cases), worker’s compensation, or personal injury, for instance—anything posted on social media is available to anyone who finds it. Many people have lost their cases because of something found on their social media.

Divorce lawyers are particularly devious when it comes to finding evidence on social media that can win the case for their clients. In any court case, content posted on social media can and likely will be used as evidence by opposing counsel. Technology means that unless you can prove that your account was hacked, everything can be authenticated before the trial.

Criminal Postings

It seems ridiculous, but many people have been caught and arrested after posting pictures of themselves on social media and even confessing to a crime.

Can Social Media Posts Be Used As Evidence In Raleigh, NC Court Cases?

  • Mooresville NC— Jade Tyson Brannon, 44, was arrested in June of 2020 for posting threats of violence against law enforcement on social media.
  • Fayetteville, NC— Lacy Kornegay, 21, made social media posts with threats against an ethnic group and listed someone else’s address to lead a reader to someone else’s home.
  • San Diego, CA—bank employee Arlando Henderson, 29, is arrested by the FBI in December of 2019 after stealing over $88,000 from the bank’s vault. He posted multiple pictures of himself with stacks of cash on both Facebook and Instagram. He used some of the money to put a down payment on a new luxury vehicle, and committed loan fraud to pay the balance.

Last year, the FBI admitted that it searched through social media to try and identify “potential flashpoints for violence.”

Even if your settings are “private,” it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to connect with someone on your friend’s list to obtain evidence. Witnesses can also provide evidence from a social media page.

But doesn’t this come under free speech? Yes, it does—and it’s placed online for the world to see. Therefore, law enforcement may not need a warrant to get it, since discussing anything on social media is no different than discussing it in any public place.

A Real-Life Case

On 9/10/2012, a grand jury indicted Antonio Delontay Ford of involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the death of Eugene Cameron. The matter went to trial on 7/23/2014, and he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

In State Of NC vs. Ford (No. COA15-75, filed in the appellate court, 2/16/2016), the defendant appealed a decision based on the unlawful introduction of some of his social media postings from his MySpace page. The page included pictures of his dog, a pit bull named “DMX,” which attacked and killed Cameron unprovoked.

Neighbors reported previous encounters with this dog, including three incidents of bites. The dog was known to be vicious, and it had been allowed to run through the neighborhood unsecured and unsupervised. The owner of the home where Cameron was found suggested to detectives that they speak with next-door neighbor Ford, a dog owner.

Detectives questioned Ford, he admitted that DMX was his. DNA analysis of both the victim and DMX showed that the dog was responsible for Cameron’s injuries that led to his death.

The night before the trial, a detective discovered Ford’s MySpace page. In addition to pictures and videos of the dog, the page contained a video captioned, “DMX tha Killer Pit.” A second video contained the caption, “After a Short Fight, he killed that mut.”  One picture bore the description, “undefeated.” Screenshots of several videos were submitted into evidence, and a rap song sung by the defendant was played for the jury. The song was posted on his Myspace page, and the lyrics denied that the dog was the cause of death.

In his appeal, Ford stated that the court erred in submitting his rap song about the dog, evidence from his online presence, and committed an error in admitting opinion testimony. He attempted to stop the admission of his rap song as evidence but was denied. The jury heard the rap song in its entirety, including racial epithets and other profanities. Ford contended that the content offended the jury, which caused them to overlook the “holes in the State’s case.” Conversely, the prosecution showed that not only did Ford know that DMX was a dangerous and vicious animal, but he was also proud of it. Ford’s social media supported this assertion.

The court disagreed with Ford’s appeal:

“Pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes, section 8C-1, Rule 402, “[a]ll relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution of the United States, by the Constitution of North Carolina, by Act of Congress, by Act of the General Assembly or by these rules. Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, Rule 402 (2013)

Your Criminal Defense Counsel In Raleigh

If you’ve been charged with a crime—any crime—the first thing to do is stay off social media, and avoid posting anything until you speak with a criminal defense attorney.

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

If you’ve been arrested and are facing any kind of criminal charges, 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.

Criminal Defense For Rioting Charges During Protests

The freedom of expression is a uniquely American civil right, one which has become a hallmark of the US. Since the spring, demonstrations have become commonplace in many major US cities to protest a number of wrongs committed against citizens.

In recent months, many protests intended to be peaceful have not stayed that way, with many turning into violent riots. As a result, residents, cities, and police departments are on edge during upcoming public events.

You may be considering whether you should join a protest, or stay far from it. That’s your choice, since you may not know what you’ll be walking into when you get there. Understand that if you decide to join a protest, you could face the possibility of being arrested.

Why Are Protestors Arrested?

Criminal Defense For Rioting Charges During ProtestsMost protestors are arrested for minor infractions such as failure to disperse or resisting a public officer. That was the case in Charlotte when over 100 people were arrested after protests. Disorderly conduct, a catch-all term for various types of behavior, is another frequent charge used for groups of people who become agitated.

Protests are frequently attracted individuals who have every intention of turning the event into a violent melee. Overwhelmed police may decide to arrest everyone they can and let the courts sort everything out. Innocent marchers who were not even involved with rioters are arrested as a matter of course and must fight for themselves in the court system.

Trespassing And Looting

Entering someone’s property without their consent or permission at any time is considered trespassing. You are not an invitee and have no reason to be on the property, you’re considered a trespasser. North Carolina General Statutes § 14 288.6 directly addresses both of these charges and includes:

“Entering without legal justification when the usual security of property is not effective due to the occurrence or aftermath of riot, insurrection, invasion, storm, fire, explosion, flood, collapse, or other disaster or calamity is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor of trespass during an emergency.”

Property owners generally have a duty of care to keep their premises safe for all who enter. But if you are injured on someone else’s property while trespassing, you may not be able to collect damages under premises liability law. The property owner’s responsibility is only to avoid willfully harming someone who is trespassing. Injuries you sustain while trespassing means you are on your own for medical bills and other expenses.

As we’ve seen in many cities, looting and other physical damage have destroyed businesses around the country. The same statute addresses looting:

“Any person who commits the crime of trespass during an emergency and, without legal justification, obtains or exerts control over, damages, ransacks, or destroys the property of another is guilty of the felony of looting and shall be punished as a Class H felon.”

Defense for Rioting Charges

Even if you are innocent of the charges made against you, or your arrest is unlawful, you can still be charged separately with resisting arrest.

There are circumstances where you may need to trespass during a riot or other emergency, including protecting the life of another individual or property. (Having the owner’s consent means you are not trespassing.) Recovering personal property on someone’s premises is not considered trespassing, either, such as property moved elsewhere by a hurricane. But you will be required to prove that your trespass was not intended to be criminal and that there was an imminent emergency.

Looting, on the other hand, will require a stronger burden of proof by the prosecutor. Defenses include lack of intent to commit looting, or if you were the subject of mistaken identity. You may also be able to use the defenses that the police failed to follow proper due process, or that they committed an unlawful search and seizure. Your criminal defense attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your arrest and the circumstances surrounding it before your court date to determine exactly what occurred to assemble your defense.

Arrested After A Protest And Need Help? Call Dewey P. Brinkley

Exercising your right to free speech shouldn’t come with an arrest. If you are arrested for rioting, disorderly conduct, or other criminal charges during a demonstration, get legal counsel immediately and defend yourself against the charges.

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 arrested for disorderly conduct and other charges and works for the best possible outcome. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.

Can a Drug Possession Conviction Affect My Student Aid In Raleigh, NC?

A conviction for drug possession changes a number of things in your life. Anytime you’re asked about a criminal conviction, you’re required to answer, “yes.” Employment, housing, and other opportunities may change or be lost because of a drug possession conviction.

But if you’re a college student, or were planning to become one, your plans have radically changed. If you are already using student aid for college, you may lose it. And if you’re applying to college, your options could be limited for what you’re planning to study.

The FAFSA

Hands in Handcuffs after a Drug Possession Conviction In Raleigh, NC?The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) contains questions specific to drug convictions. It’s important that you answer the question truthfully and accurately.

The question specifically asks if your conviction occurred while you were receiving student financial aid. When you answer yes, you will be required to fill out a worksheet to determine if you are eligible for subsequent financial aid assistance.

If you have a drug conviction, complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet for the drug conviction question on the FAFSA to determine if your conviction will impact your aid eligibility. You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4- FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

If your conviction occurs after you submit the FAFSA, you may lose your eligibility, as well as be required to repay any financial aid you’ve already received.

What you state on the FAFSA is separate from what you state on your college admissions application, and must be truthful on both. If your college admissions form asks, you will be required to disclose a conviction.

Note that the issues arise only after a conviction for either the sale or possession of illegal drugs as an adult. If you were tried as a juvenile, and not convicted as an adult, you’ll still be eligible. This is also true if your conviction has been set aside or reversed, and you would answer “no” to the question.

Suspension Periods

The suspension period of federal student aid depends on whether the conviction was for sale or suspension, and whether it was a first or subsequent suspension.

  • First offense: one year for possession, two for sale
  • Second offense: two years for possession, indefinitely for sale
  • Third and subsequent offenses: indefinitely for both possession and sale

After your student aid eligibility is suspended by a drug conviction, there are two ways you can regain it:

  • Successful completion of an approved drug rehabilitation program
  • Agree to and pass two unannounced drug screenings by an approved drug rehabilitation program

Fighting Drug Charges

The best defense is a good offense. Take proactive stance against a potential drug conviction that could seriously impede your future.

If you’ve been arrested on drug charges, it’s important to have a strong, aggressive drug charge defense lawyer to defend you in court. Without good legal counsel, you may be at the mercy of the court, and find yourself making a guilty plea just to end it.

But pleading guilty may not be the right thing to do, especially if you’re not guilty. If you do, you’ll be a convicted felon, and end up with a criminal conviction that will follow you around for the rest of your life.

With an experienced drug charge attorney, you have a fighting chance against a conviction that will cause you problems long after you leave court, including going to college and having a career.

Drug Charges? Let Dewey P. Brinkley Will Defend You

A criminal defense attorney experienced in drug cases can defend you in court and protect your assets. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation. Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will make sure your rights are rights are respected and you receive a fair trial under the law.