Tag Archives: drug crimes lawyer

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.


Raleigh Drug Charges: What It Means For Your Future

It was just a little bit. Not enough to really notice. But the police did. Now you’ve got some drug charges.

Now what?

drug charges can effect your future

From applying for a job or college, renting an apartment or a house, one drug charge can stop you from doing all these things most people do every day.

Marijuana Misdemeanor

North Carolina has not legalized marijuana, and still considers it a crime.

A “small amount,” less than a half-ounce, is called “simple possession of marijuana.” A Class 3 misdemeanor, you’ll pay a $200 fine, but probably not have jail time for your first offense. Higher amounts, up to 1.5 ounces, are a Class 1 misdemeanor, with up to 45 days in jail (or probation, if your attorney successfully argues for it.) If you have more than 1.5 ounces, up to 10 pounds, it’s a felony with jail time up to 12 months.

Schedule I and II Drug Charges

Controlled substances like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and others carry felony charges, harsher penalties and higher jail sentences. Any amount in your possession will result in an automatic arrest with fines and jail terms. Drug trafficking and “maintaining a dwelling” (any facility used for warehousing and distribution) are also felonies with jail time.


If you are asked by a prospective employer, either in person, or on a job application, if you’ve ever been arrested, of course, you must say “yes” (unless you’ve had a legal expunction.) Background checks are cheap and easy to get, so most employers get them when you apply. Arrests and convictions show up immediately.

If you’re not asked in the application, you may be asked in an interview. Obviously, you must answer “yes,” or they will find out during the background check. Once they discover you’ve been arrested for drugs, they may decide not to continue talking to you, and you’ll have a harder time finding a job.

Employers want to hire people they can trust. Drug charges can severely limit your choice of vocations, even for a misdemeanor. Law enforcement, nursing, working with children (such as daycare or teaching) and any job requiring a CDL will not accept a candidate with a past history of drug arrests. You may also be turned down for active duty military service or the National Guard.

Mortgages and other loans

In many cases, drug charges cause immediate denial of credit for many kinds of loans. Lenders want to know that the loan will be repaid on time. As a convicted criminal, you will be considered a “high risk.” Mortgages, student loans, car loans, credit cards, and other types of lending will be unavailable  (or only at a very high rate of interest.)


Many landlords run credit and criminal background checks to potential tenants. Again, background checks are cheap and easy to get, so it wouldn’t take long for a landlord to discover your arrest. Most are looking for stable individuals who will pay rent on time and keep the property in reasonably good condition. Drug charges in your past will make any landlord anxious about renting to you, as well as your activities and ability to pay rent in a timely fashion.


Are you considering going to college?

While you may be able to get financial aid, you will be severely limited. Your financial aid may be suspended if your drug conviction happened while you were receiving aid. You’ll be asked to fill out a worksheet to determine your continued eligibility. You may re-apply after completing a drug treatment program.

Drug trafficking and “maintaining a dwelling” can disqualify you completely from student financial aid.

If you’re also applying to law or medical school, you must also disclose the arrest on your admissions  application. Drug charges may result in denial of your application.

Child Custody

If you’re involved in a difficult child custody battle with an ex, drug charges may cause a judge to reconsider your custody rights, even if an arrest did not lead to a conviction. Your drug arrest can be used as another reason to deny your parental rights, and possibly keep you from seeing your children. You may also be prohibited from adopting children.

Asset Forfeiture

Once you are convicted, you can lose your home, your car, as well as cash. North Carolina requires a conviction for criminal asset forfeiture. The state requires proceeds from criminal asset forfeiture to fund the public school systems.

Even A Misdemeanor Can Have Long-Term Consequences

Drug charges have the potential to cause problems for the rest of your life, whether they’re major or minor. Even though a misdemeanor is a “small thing” in the courts, it’s a very large red flag to anyone who is considering you for employment, as a tenant, or any number of other positions.

First-Time Charge Expunction

North Carolina allows some first-time offenders convicted of simple possession of marijuana to complete drug education training and/or community service to have their drug charge dismissed. Called a “conditional discharge,” you will be required to comply with a number of conditions.

Your attorney can later request an expunction after successful completion. A minor drug charge can be wiped from your record, won’t appear in a background check, and you can legally answer “no” when asked about criminal charges. You can only do this once, and subsequent charges and arrests may lead to jail time.

Dewey P. Brinkley Will Defend You Against Drug Charges

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.

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.