Tag Archives: criminal defense lawyer

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.


Is It A Crime Or A Delinquency?

If you or someone you know has a child who’s involved in wrongdoing and is going through the criminal justice system, you may not understand the different proceedings and penalties. In this article, we’ll discuss the basic difference between a crime and delinquency as it relates to underage offenders.

Two Systems

Is It A Crime Or A Delinquency?

There are two different court systems for offenders in North Carolina: juvenile court & criminal justice and the adult criminal court system.

A “juvenile” in North Carolina is defined as someone under the age of 16. Juveniles are usually sent to the juvenile justice system for misdemeanor offenses (shoplifting, vandalism, underage drinking, etc.). If a juvenile is charged with a felony, even as young as 13, they will bypass juvenile court and be tried in the adult court system.

There are two definitions of a juvenile: a “delinquent,” who has actually committed a crime, and an “undisciplined” juvenile, who is out of the control of parents or guardians, has run away from home, skips school and commits other infractions.

A delinquency is a wrongful act committed by a juvenile, whereas a “crime” is generally attributed to an adult, over the age of 16. But there are differences based on the severity of the crime committed.

The Juvenile Court

The goal of juvenile court is rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Juveniles are punished for their offenses but given the chance for a clean slate after they turn 18 through rehabilitation and alternative sentences such as probation, time in a youth development center, or prohibited from operating a motor vehicle. Many offenses can be expunged at that time and court records sealed.

Juveniles In Adult Court

Sometimes juveniles commit more serious crimes that send them into the adult system before the age of 18. Since North Carolina considers anyone over 15 to be an “adult” for these purposes, it is at that point the “delinquency” becomes a “crime,” particularly if it’s a serious one (including felonies such as murder.) “Adults” of all ages are held responsible for their actions, arrested, charged with a crime, sent to trial, and if found guilty, incarcerated.

Some of the more common crimes committed by “delinquent” juveniles include:

Crimes like these and other felonies will send a juvenile into the adult system where they will be tried as an adult, and if convicted, sent to prison. The juvenile has the right to legal counsel, but no longer has the right to privacy, and the case will be made public as if he or she were over 21.

Juvenile Criminal Defense in Raleigh

If your child is charged with a juvenile or adult offense, Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you and your child through the court process, defend your child against charges and work for a more reasonable sentence. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your child’s case at (919) 832-0307.


Received a Criminal Summons in Wake County: Here’s What to Do

You’ve had heated words with someone. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have said. Maybe it was said to a romantic partner or estranged spouse. Maybe it was a coworker—or your teenager.

Something turns up missing at work, at someone’s home, or even in your church. You may be the “prime suspect.” You’ve done nothing wrong, but another person firmly believes that you are the guilty party, even without proof or evidence.

Received a Criminal Summons in Wake County: Here's What to DoJust because you haven’t been arrested doesn’t mean you’ve escaped a criminal charge.

If someone believes they have probable cause to file charges for a presumed wrongdoing, you can still find yourself on the wrong side of the law. If this happens, you’ve been criminally charged, and you need to pay attention.

A criminal summons is not much different than if you were taken to jail in a police car. Take this one seriously, because you can still end up in jail. Just like being arrested at the scene of a crime, you’ll need a criminal defense attorney to defend yourself.

How Could This Happen?

In North Carolina, if the police don’t have enough evidence or probable cause to make an arrest, a private citizen can initiate criminal charges against you by discussing the situation with a magistrate. The individual only has to provide sufficient information and probable cause to file charges. This option is not limited to law enforcement officers, so anyone really can do it, and file nearly any kind of minor criminal charges. While this is useful for things like domestic abuse threats, it may be enough to tell the magistrate that “s/he takes medication and talks to plants” to file charges.  If the magistrate has enough believable evidence, you’ll be issued a criminal summons.

What Did You Say?

Particularly serious is the charge of “communicating threats,” where you can actually find yourself in more trouble than you would if you actually do assault someone. We don’t suggest hitting anyone, of course, but “communicating threats” is a very real charge and more serious than actual assault. Should someone take your comments seriously and file what’s called “citizen-initiated charges,” you’ll be served with a criminal summons with a court date. It’s one of the most common privately filed charges, where the individual can talk to a magistrate, and offer reasons for probable cause. The state doesn’t even need to have proof, just the opposing party’s word that you “communicated a threat.”

Magistrates will not issue citizen-initiated felony charges, only misdemeanors. But even if you’re not guilty, you should not ignore a criminal summons for a misdemeanor. It is, and can become, a big problem if you ignore it.

Defend Yourself (With A Criminal Defense Attorney)

Just like being arrested, you have the right to your own defense. Even if the charges are baseless and unproven, you can still find yourself going to jail as a result. Misdemeanors are “small potatoes” in court, but a conviction can cause you additional problems later, like denials for employment, housing, and other important things. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself in court, handle your case and possibly have the charges dismissed. Don’t try to defend yourself, on your own, because you could find yourself with additional charges—or going to jail.

Do Not Miss Your Court Date!

Even if someone has filed frivolous charges with malicious intent, you must not miss the court date. If you do, you’ll be “called and failed,” and the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. Once arrested, you’ll have to post bond to get out, you’ll still have a court date, and you’ll still need an attorney to defend you. There are few legitimate excuses for missing a court date, so just don’t.

You Have The Right To Legal Counsel—Use It

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Wake County, and a former Wake County prosecutor. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation. He will discuss your case with you and will aggressively fight to help you clear your name.

Underage with Marijuana Charge – What Happens Now?

Marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina. If you’re caught with even a small amount, you’ll be arrested and charged. If a juvenile has been charged with underage marijuana possession, the rules are a little different. Find out what happens when you’re underage with a marijuana charge below.

getting a marijuana charge

How Much Marijuana?

A lot will depend on the amount of marijuana the juvenile was arrested with. Was it enough for “recreational use,” or is there enough to constitute distribution? Is the minor using it with friends, arrested with others who were using it, or carrying an amount that may indicate distribution?

North Carolina considers a “small amount” to be a half-ounce or less, and calls it “simple possession of marijuana.” No jail time is involved for a first offense, and it is a misdemeanor, but there is a $200 fine. If you’re in possession of more than that, up to 1.5 ounces, it is still a misdemeanor, but carries  a $1,000 fine and up to 45 days in jail. If someone is caught with more than 1.5 ounces, up to 10 pounds, they‘ll be charged with a felony, given a $1,000 fine and spend as much as 8 months in jail.

A juvenile caught selling or trafficking marijuana will face harsher penalties and much higher fines.

The Juvenile Court System

North Carolina considers a “juvenile” as someone under the age of 16. They are usually relegated to the juvenile justice system for minor crimes, such as shoplifting, vandalism, underage drinking, and other criminal mischief. If a minor is charged with a more serious or violent crimes, they will likely be tried in the adult criminal court system.

While adults and juveniles are subject to the same laws, the court system treats them differently. North Carolina’s juvenile justice system is focused on punishment as well as rehabilitation before adulthood. Whether this is your child’s first (and hopefully only) brush with the law, or is considered “troubled,” we will make sure he or she is treated fairly and that the juvenile’s rights are respected.

The “delinquent” juvenile is one who has committed a crime, including traffic citations. The “undisciplined” juvenile is one who frequently misses school, runs away from home, has been caught in places they shouldn’t be (i.e., bars), and is not within the discipline of parents, custodians or guardians.

The Court Process For A Marijuana Charge

Unlike adult court, there isn’t a jury trial. The judge makes all the decisions in juvenile criminal cases.

Juvenile court judges have a broader selection of choices for younger offenders. Since the preferred outcome is rehabilitation, rather than incarceration, the judge can order the offender to attend drug counseling with his or her parents. Other options include:

·         Probation—similar to adult probation, the juvenile can be ordered to return to school, get a job (if he or she is old enough), perform community service, enroll in drug and/or family counseling, or a number of other conditions. Probation typically lasts six months or longer, and there may be a probation officer involved, but not always.

·         Diversion—another form of probation, with many of the same rules, but the juvenile does not have to go before the court. If he or she successfully completes diversion, the charges are in essence, dismissed. This option reserved for first-time offenders and is not available everywhere.

·         Detention—this is where the juvenile is incarcerated in “juvenile hall” or another type of confinement, and used for repeat offenders. Confinement may include placement with a foster family, juvenile home or a juvenile detention facility. Drug possession as the result of another crime is also a factor in a detention ruling. Depending on the seriousness of the charges, he or she may be required to stay until the 21st birthday, significantly impacting college admissions.

Many juvenile offenses can be expunged after a certain period, usually after probation, diversion or detention is completed. Until then, random drug testing, searches without warrants, electronic monitoring, and other restrictions may be placed on the individual for the duration.

One Mistake Can Last Forever

Underage marijuana charges can tarnish a teenager’s chances at college admissions, scholarships, financial aid, and military enlistment. It can limit the types of vocations they can pursue later, and show up on background checks for jobs, apartments and loans. Fortunately, first-time offenses can be expunged, or removed. An experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help you through the process and explain the options.

Juvenile Criminal Defense in Raleigh

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you and your child through the court process, defend your child against drug charges and work for a more reasonable sentence. Call the law offices of Dewey Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your child’s case at (919) 832-0307.