Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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

 

A 29-year-old terminally ill woman is shining her light on “dying with dignity,” a cause she hopes she furthers when she kills herself on November 1.

Poison Botttle and hand Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyOn that date, Brittany Maynard plans to take a lethal dose of a medication prescribed to her by a doctor. She said she plans to “painlessly fade away” in her bedroom, surrounded by her loved ones, with her favorite music playing.

Maynard was diagnosed on New Year’s Day this year with Stage 4 glioblastoma, a form of aggressive cancer that would end her life in a matter of months, her doctor told her. Maynard said she is not suicidal. “I want to live,” she told People Magazine, but there is no cure for her disease.

After doctors told her what would happen to her body during the final stages of her illness, Maynard said it was a relief to discover an alternative: Death with Dignity. Death on her own terms is an option because, Maynard said, she lives in one of the few states that allows it. Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, passed in 1997, allows “terminally-ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.”

Only five states have so-called “Death with Dignity” laws on the books. North Carolina is not one of them.

Continue reading →

Published on:

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC responds to “The person that called the police doesn’t want to press charges, can I still be prosecuted?”

 

Some in the media have suggested that the latest teacher-student-sex case to make national news is a victimless crime. The case involves a 17-year-old male student who slept with two of his English teachers—at the same time. Detectives are now investigating rumors that the three made a sex tape of their encounter.

Teachers and Student Charlotte DWI Attorney North Carolina Criminal Defense LawyerSt. Charles Parish, Louisiana sheriff’s deputies said yesterday that the encounter between the student and teachers occurred at one of the teacher’s apartment on a Friday night after a school football game. The teacher/host has been identified as 24-year-old Rachel Respess. She surrendered herself to authorities yesterday and was charged with one count of carnal knowledge involving a juvenile, one count of indecent behavior, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The second teacher—34-year-old Shelly Dufresne—stands accused of engaging in sexual relations with the same student. She has also been arrested and faces charges. According to media reports, Dufresne is married and is the mother of three young children.

Ironically, one of the three judges who hear felony cases in St. Charles Parish is Dufresne’s father, Emile St. Pierre. Judge St. Pierre is the senior judge of the 29th Judicial District Court. Another judge in the district has already recused herself from the case, due to conflict. Before recusing herself, Judge Lauren Lemmon set Dufresne’s bond at $200,000 and placed her under house arrest.

Continue reading →

Published on:

J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”

 

In May 2012, Officer John Snyder pulled over 40-year-old David Khoury after he spotted the man driving erratically down a busy stretch of Torresdale Avenue in Holmesberg, Pennsylvania. When he approached the car, Snyder said, he spotted a gun lying on a floor mat. Khoury admitted he did not have a license to carry the unloaded Glock .40-caliber pistol. The Louisville, Kentucky native was booked on felony weapons charges and released on a $50,000 bond.

DOJ Charlotte DWI Lawyer Mecklenburg DUI Criminal AttorneyIn 2010, an unnamed campaign donor gave $1,000 to the reelection campaign of Judge Joseph Waters, Jr. Judge Waters told the donor to get in touch with him if any of the donor’s “people” ran “into a problem.” After Khoury’s arrest, the donor called Waters and told him about Khoury’s felony weapon charge problem. Khoury, the donor said, was the cousin of a business associate.

Judge Waters determined that Khoury’s case was set to be heard by another Judge, Dawn Segal. He called Judge Segal and told her to help Khoury, identifying the man as a personal friend. Judge Segal reduced Khoury’s charge to a misdemeanor. When Khoury failed to appear for trial, the charge was dropped because court staff could not locate his address. Prosecutors and defense lawyers who worked on Khoury’s case could barely remember the man.

It seems David Khoury never existed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?”

 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers arrested two Charlotte eye doctors on Tuesday and charged them with trafficking in opiates, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, and larceny.

Plant Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyA patient of Dr. Benjamin Lanier Hobbs and Dr. Samuel Ryan Hobbs said he was given a prescription for hydrocodone and told to return to Clear View Eye Care—where the doctors worked—once it was filled. The patient complied, but said when he brought the pills to the doctors’ office, the doctors removed a portion of the pills from the bottle before returning the bottle to him.

Detectives told Charlotte’s WBTV that the doctors prescribed large amounts of hydrocodone to patients. Detectives executed search warrants at the doctors’ offices in order to seize records relating to unknown victims.

The doctors’ arrest follows several other high-profile drug trafficking cases involving Charlotte-area doctors. Law enforcement officials say the over-prescribing of drugs and doctor involvement in prescription drug trafficking is a troubling trend.

Continue reading →

Published on:

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

 

Bradley Cooper—not the actor—was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 after a 36-day trial that featured testimony from over 100 witnesses. That was all for naught. The Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in 2013 after ruling that Cooper’s defense team was prematurely foreclosed by the trial court from adequately investigating the reasons given by law-enforcement officers for not turning over evidence extracted from Mr. Cooper’s computer.

Wake County Courthouse Charlotte Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyFrom the very beginning, Cooper’s defense lawyers argued that the investigation into Nancy Cooper’s death was flawed. The crucial piece of evidence linking Cooper to his wife’s slaying was a Google Maps search that investigators said Cooper made in order to hide his wife’s body. Cooper did not testify at the 2011 trial; he told investigators that his wife went jogging and never returned.

That story changed in court in Raleigh on Monday, when Cooper acknowledged killing his wife and dumping her body on Fielding Drive. Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings told the court that Nancy Cooper had been strangled.

Cooper agreed to consent to the adoption of his daughters, who are now eight and ten-years-old, respectively. They will be adopted by Nancy Cooper’s sister. The agreement between Cooper and the State also meant that Cooper would plead guilty to second-degree murder and receive credit for the more-than-five years he has spent in jail awaiting disposition of his case.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can the police search my car without a warrant?”

 

When the humanity of the future looks back at our American age, they may properly describe it as the age of rules, an age in which personal freedom may be exercised only with certain caveats. Those caveats seem always to be expanding.

Unicycle Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Family Law AttorneyA person in North Carolina can drive a motor vehicle on a public roadway, for instance, but only upon certain conditions. The motor vehicle the person is operating must be insured. It must have been inspected within a year and contain, on its license plate, proof of the inspection. The motor vehicle must be affixed with a valid license plate. The driver must possess a valid driver’s license. The driver and all occupants must restrain themselves with seatbelts. Of course, the driver must obey all traffic laws. Violations of any of these rules subject a person to criminal or administrative penalties.

All these rules have some people opting for bikes, and I don’t mean motorcycles. Municipalities like the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have been encouraging bicycle use for years. Increased bicycle use for transportation cuts down on traffic congestion and is better for the environment, they say. That has led urban planners to cut heavily travelled urban roadways like Charlotte’s East Boulevard from four lanes to two lanes and, at the same time, to install pedestrian and cyclist-friendly bicycle lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks.

In general, bicycles may be a frustrated automobile driver’s ticket to a simpler life. Not so fast, says Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce. Pierce thinks anyone who rides a bicycle on a state highway—including in bike lanes—should be required to have a driver’s license, to carry a policy of liability insurance on the bike, to register the bike and to pay property taxes on it. Pierce said when he went to the beach and bought a golf cart, he found out that if he drove the golf cart on a public road, he had to “put a tag on it, it has to be inspected, it has to have seatbelts, it has to have lights, it has to turn signals, has to have a rearview mirror, it has to have a horn, has to have a windshield wiper…”

Continue reading →