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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need to hire an attorney if I have been falsely accused?”

 

Many politicians and pundits appear to view the world through one of two sets of eyes. The Grand Old Party’s elephant has its eyes, and the Democrat donkey has a pair, but the Constitution—which predates them both—speaks of “We the People.”

President Barack Obama Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyWhat happened to “We the People”?

We formed, at the outset of our republic, a union to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” That union—formed by thirteen colonies and enlarged over two-and-a-quarter centuries to fifty states—came into being on the basis of a single document: the Constitution of the United States.

If the Constitution ceases to exist, so too the union it wrought. Even a casual review of the Constitution’s basic provisions illustrate just how dangerous President Barack H. Obama’s countenanced “executive action” on immigration is to our country.

Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution vests “All legislative Powers… in a Congress of the United States,” which Congress consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. “Legislative power” means the power to make laws. Under the Constitution, only the Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—has that power.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

Researchers in Stockholm, Sweden have published findings that appear to show a link between two genetic mutations and a propensity to commit violent criminal acts.

DNA Structure Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyThe researchers studied the DNA of 800 Finnish criminals and compared it with 2,000 non-incarcerated Finns who had given DNA samples for a previous study. The researchers found that the two genetic mutations rendered individuals 13-times more likely than the general population to commit a violent crimes. The study did not draw a causal link between the mutations and violent crime.

Researchers hope the information is valuable to “offenders who want to break their cycle of repetitive violence.”

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jari Tiihonen, said researchers found that offenders with one of the two mutations experienced marked spikes in dopamine whenever they consumed drugs or alcohol, which could have fueled criminal activity.

Tiihonen suggested, for instance, that in addition to traditional forms of criminal punishment, offenders with certain genetic mutations could be administered drugs while incarcerated that “make it impossible… to use alcohol anymore… given the medication’s ability to make drinking unpleasant and distasteful.”

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”

 

Like other criminal defense attorneys, I would almost never recommend that a defendant waive one’s right to a jury trial.

The Jury Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyUntil last week, defendants in North Carolina could not be convicted of a felony but upon unanimous verdict of a jury of one’s peers. Now that right has been diluted, and criminal defendants have a new right: the right to waive their rights.

For the second time in two years, voters in the Tar Heel State have amended North Carolina’s State Constitution. Earlier this year, a pair of federal court judges struck down a 2012 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

This time around, voters in the Old North State narrowly passed a state constitutional amendment that will enable defendants in criminal superior matters to waive jury trials.

Article I, Section 24 of the Constitution of North Carolina will now read:

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

Former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon found himself back in federal court in Charlotte last Thursday, where he faced the same federal district court judge who sentenced him to 44 months in prison last month.

Ballot Box Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyJudge Frank Whitney told Cannon he embarrassed the city by accepting bribes in the mayor’s office and then embarrassed the city again by voting in this year’s elections.

Cannon cast his votes on October 30 at Community House Middle School, records show. In the State of North Carolina, persons convicted of felonies are ineligible to vote.

The United States Attorney argued that Cannon was a sophisticated voter and should have known that he had been stripped of his voting rights. The government asked that Cannon’s bond be revoked and that he be placed in custody immediately.

Judge Whitney agreed that Cannon had violated the terms of his bond but declined to place Cannon in immediate federal custody. Instead, Cannon will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device and will be confined under house arrest until he reports to a minimum security federal prison in West Virginia at the end of the year.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

Two Mecklenburg County Superior Court judges have indicated that they may be willing to unseal court records detailing how law-enforcement officers have used secret surveillance of cellphones and other wireless devices in closed investigations.

Cell phone tower Charlotte DWI Lawyer Mecklenburg Criminal AttorneySuperior Court Judge Richard Boner told the Charlotte Observer that the legal justification for sealing court records ends “once everything is over and done with” in a case. Superior Court Judge Robert Bell also indicated a willingness to consider unsealing some court orders that authorized the use of secret surveillance.

The surveillance equipment—known as StingRay, Hailstorm, AmberJack or TriggerFish—imitates a cellphone tower and enables officers to uncover the location of cellphones and wireless devices in the area, their serial numbers and other information. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have denied using the surveillance equipment to eavesdrop on conversations or store data from innocent people.

A number of Charlotte criminal defense attorneys told the Observer that they were unaware of CMPD’s use of the equipment until the Observer’s recent stories on the matter. In the stories, CMPD acknowledged that law-enforcement officers have been using the surveillance equipment for at least eight years.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

 

Bill Stevenson became the latest North Carolina magistrate to resign his post in the wake of court rulings that paved the way for same-sex marriages to being in the Tar Heel State. The Gaston County magistrate—like at least six others in the state—cited religious objections to same-sex marriage as the reason for his resignation.

Roy Cooper Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyMagistrates, judges and clerks were warned by North Carolina’s Administrative Office of the Courts that if they refused to officiate same-sex weddings, they could be suspended, removed from office, or face criminal charges. Refusing to perform same-sex weddings, a memo warned, constituted a willful violation of a magistrate’s duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

The magistrates may be wondering exactly who is bound by the law, since the state’s highest law-enforcement official—Attorney General Roy Cooper—announced in July that he would not defend North Carolina’s State Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. At the time, Cooper correctly predicted that the Amendment would be overturned, but it is undisputed that he instructed justice department attorneys to ignore then-existing law when he ordered them to “stop making arguments we will lose, and instead move forward.”

Cooper was not alone. At least seven other state attorneys general refused to enforce bans on same-sex marriage. In each case, the attorneys declared that state laws or state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage either violated the Constitution or created ethical conflicts for lawyers asked to defend the bans.

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

Officials in a northern Idaho city have threatened two citizens with arrest, fines and imprisonment after the citizens “politely declined” a same-sex couple’s request to be married at their wedding chapel.

Drive through wedding Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyDonald and Evelyn Knapp, who own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, were notified by city authorities that they violated Coeur d’Alene’s city code Chapter 9.56, which provides for “equal opportunities for employment, housing, commercial property, and the use of public accommodations… regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression[.]”

City Attorney Warren Wilson told the Idaho Statesman that the term “public accommodations” applies to wedding activity, noting that similar laws have applied to florists, bakeries and photographers in other states who refused to work on same-sex weddings.

Donald Knapp told KXLY in May that he could not unite people in a way that he believes is in conflict with what the Bible teaches. The Coeur d’Alene ordinance provides exemptions for religious organizations, but the Knapps’ wedding chapel is a for-profit business, so the exemptions do not apply to them.

The Knapps face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 per-day fine for each day they decline to perform the same-sex wedding. Under Title 1, Chapter 1.28(B) of Coeur d’Alene’s city code, the penalties are cumulative, meaning the Knapps face a separate 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day on which their refusal continues.

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

 

A group of Texas pastors who participated in a political effort to repeal a controversial city ordinance have been targeted by pro bono attorneys representing the City of Houston.

Houston Skyline Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThe pastors and others filed a lawsuit after petitioning unsuccessfully to repeal Houston’s “Equal Rights Ordinance.” Attorneys representing the city subpoenaed sermons and other materials related to the ordinance, to Mayor Annise Parker and the subject of homosexuality. On Wednesday, however, Mayor Parker backed away from the subpoenas, calling them overly broad and appearing to agree with critics who said the subpoenas trampled on the pastors’ free speech rights.

The ordinance was passed this spring with great fanfare, however the “roaring chorus of cheers” that erupted inside Houston’s city hall in May has dulled, and the passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance that precipitated those cheers is circling into a drain of acrimony.

The council that governs Texas’ largest city passed by a vote of 11-6 what many consider to be Mayor Parker’s signature achievement. The ordinance was passed after a string of hotly-contested public meetings.

The ordinance outlaws discrimination based on a variety of factors. Initially Mayor Parker suggested that the idea for the ordinance arose after African-American men complained that they were refused entry to nightclubs in the city based on their race.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

 

North Carolina is not the only state that boasts of rich fall foliage painting its Appalachian hillsides and mountains annually. Now one eastern seaboard state is counting on the falling foliage to uncover an accused cop killer.

Solider on the move Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyEric Frein, a self-described “survivalist” and trained marksman who—according to his father—“doesn’t miss” when he shoots, has been on the run in Pennsylvania’s mountainous Appalachian region since September 12. Police allege Frein shot Cpl. Bryon Dickson to death and critically injured Trooper Alex Douglass outside their Pike County, Pennsylvania barracks.

Frein, who is considered “armed and extremely dangerous,” ambushed the officers and then fled into the forested Poconos Mountains. The Poconos are part of the Appalachian range situated in northeast Pennsylvania.

The search for Frein has dragged on for over a month and, according to officials, it is costing taxpayers in the Keystone State some $1.1 million per day. Before the shooting, Frein lived with his parents in Seneca Lake, Pennsylvania. After his son went missing, Frein’s father told authorities Frein was likely armed with an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope, which were missing from the home.

Frein was trained by his father to shoot the weapons and also knows how to survive in the woods. On September 29, searchers found a cache of food, two pipe bombs and handwritten notes detailing the shootings of Dickson and Douglass when they stumbled on Frein’s recently abandoned hideout.

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I talk to the police?”

 

Notes urging loved ones not to give away your criminal plans are never a good idea, especially if you do not want to get caught. This is something would-be ISIS fighter Mohammed Hamzah Khan did not learn before attempting to travel overseas to join and fight with the infamous terrorist group.

Islamic State Seal Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer Charlotte DWI AttorneyISIS—a name short for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—is a terrorist organization that has taken control of much of northwestern Syria and northeastern Iraq. The United States has said the group has as many as 35,000 fighters under its flag. It is also called—most notably by U.S. President Barak Obama—“ISIL,” short for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Levant is a term historically used to refer to an area of the eastern Mediterranean lands now comprised of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

Disillusioned young people from Europe and the United States have been travelling to Syria and Iraq in alarming numbers to join forces with ISIS. James Comey, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigators, said his agency is aware of at least a dozen Americans fighting for ISIS in Syria. As many as 100, however, have either tried to travel to Syria and were arrested or have travelled there and returned to the United States, Comey said.

Khan planned to fly to Vienna, Austria—in Eastern Europe—and from there planned to fly to Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish troops are fighting ISIS at the Syrian border to prevent fighters from advancing into the NATO-member state. NATO stands for the North American Treaty Organization, a union traditionally comprised of North American and European trading partners. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and European NATO states have promised to help Turkey in the event of an ISIS invasion.

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