Tag Archives: raleigh criminal defense

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.

Can A North Carolina Assault Ever Be Accidental?

Many people use the term “assault and battery” to describe criminal acts. Although North Carolina combines the two, each term has distinctive meanings, while some states separate them.

North Carolina assault between two menAn assault in North Carolina is classified as giving another party (the “aggrieved” party) the fear of bodily harm, including the possibility of death. Acting in a potentially threatening manner or communicating threats of harm without touching another person is classified as “assault.

Battery” includes the actual contact and unwanted touching of a person without their consent. It is frequently combined with assault, but is a charge on its own.

Assault can be either a misdemeanor class or higher, depending on the severity of the assault. North Carolina assault charges have several classes, from simple to the felonious “assault with a deadly weapon.” The statute for the various degrees of assault is detailed in N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-33.

The Components of Assault

In order for an “assault” to occur, several components must be present:

  • One person threatens to or actually does harm another individual.
  • The other person had reason to believe he or she was actually in danger of being harmed
  • The intended harm was immediate and imminent
  • The assailant’s behavior was “offensive behavior” or communicated a physical threat, such as raising a fist to a potential victim’s jaw, indicating a potential punch

All of these elements must be in place to indicate assault, but it can be difficult to prove actual intent, as well as harmful and/or offensive. This is especially true when phrases like “I’m going to beat you senseless” are used casually, and refer to a sporting activity rather than to indicate the imminent intent of harm.

Defenses Against Assault

It is possible to raise a defense against assault charges. Potential defenses against North Carolina assault charges include:

  •  Self-defense—instead of the aggressor, you were the victim, and needed to use reasonable force to defend yourself or another person from the attacker. You must show that the other party acted first, and that you used reasonable force for the situation with which you were faced.
  • Consent—you and the other individual agreed to engage in a fight or other activity that led to injuries consistent with an assault.
  • Alibi—the prosecution charged the wrong individual, and you can prove your whereabouts at the time of the incident with one or more witnesses.

Can It Be Accidental?

Since assault is the act of someone intending to create a state of fear in another individual, but not necessarily making contact, the answer is probably “no.” An accident is just that, an accident, done without intent, and not intended to give the other individual fear of being attacked or harmed in any way.

However, every accusation of assault is different. Consult with an experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and build a strong defense if you are required to attend a trial.

Fight Assault Charges

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced Raleigh criminal defense attorney. As a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney, he understands the North Carolina criminal justice system. He has the experience to defend you in court against assault, whether a misdemeanor or felony 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.

 

What Is Adjudication And How Is It Different Than A Conviction In Raleigh?

When a juvenile breaks the law, there are two possibilities after the arrest, depending on the type of charges involved. Underage offenders who commit minor offenses are brought into the juvenile court system. Juveniles who commit more serious crimes—drug and/or weapons possessions, assault and other felonies—are generally tried as an adult in the criminal justice system. The focus of the juvenile court system is rehabilitation and intervention, rather than punishment, the focus of the adult criminal justice system.

Definition

This term has a number of meanings in different places. Black’s Law Dictionary defines adjudication as “the giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree in a cause; also the judgment given.”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, “adjudication” in juvenile court is the equivalent of the term “conviction” for an adult in criminal court. Court proceedings are handled in state court.

What Is Adjudication?

Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney In Raleigh

Juvenile cases are similar to adult court proceedings. The trial is called an “adjudicatory hearing,” where a judge (and in some jurisdictions, a jury) reviews the evidence and determines the facts prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If he or she has been found “guilty” in juvenile court, the verdict is called “adjudication.”

An adjudication does not always mean incarceration (also called “commitment”) as it might in an adult criminal court. Since the focus is on rehabilitation before the age of 18 (and sometimes, 21), there are a number of alternatives to jail time that a juvenile can receive.

Deferred adjudication (also called Diversion) is an alternative to incarceration that may involve probation or other conditions that the juvenile will have to meet to resolve, and possibly dismiss the charge or charges. Deferred adjudication is frequently used in cases where the circumstances of the case warrant giving the juvenile a second chance.

The Disposition is the equivalent of a sentence and is the final decision on how the juvenile’s case will be handled after adjudication. Again, rehabilitation is the goal, so the disposition can include:

  • Fines and restitution
  • Community service
  • In-home placement under supervision or probation
  • Out of home placement in commitment facilities

Disposition can also involve a specific treatment plan to address conditions in the child’s current behavior and living environment.

Adjudication is also not a matter of public record as standard criminal convictions are.

Conviction

As an adult, a conviction in criminal court is a different matter, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual did commit the crime in question.  Depending on the severity of the charges and the outcome, fines, loss of a driver’s license, and jail time are possibilities.

While juvenile charges may, eventually, be reduced or dismissed, adult criminal convictions aren’t as easy to lose. A conviction, even if no jail time is involved, can bring difficult restrictions that may be lifelong obstacles, such as:

  • Losing the right to vote
  • Barred from holding a public office
  • Barred from serving as a juror
  • Restrictions from many types of employment that require licensure (health care workers, attorneys, barbers and cosmetologists, and others), depending on the charges

Employment restrictions may depend on the type of charges one is convicted of; but discharge from employment is also possible in occupations where “moral turpitude” is a factor. Once discharged after a criminal conviction, unemployment can also be denied.

Convictions can be expunged under certain circumstances. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you remove a conviction from your record, or appeal if necessary.

Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney In Raleigh

Children in trouble can be a parent’s worst nightmare, but help is available. Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who understands the court system and can help defend your child in juvenile or adult court. Call today: 919-832-0307 (or contact him online) to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.