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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?”

 

Recent news reports indicate that crime is up in various parts of North Carolina, with a recent article revealing a double-digit rise in criminal activity in Charlotte in 2015. Other places have fared better and, as a result, have more time on their hands to direct money and energy at problems that are rarely seen as priorities.

 

Shopping basket Charlotte shoplifting lawyer Mecklenburg theft attorneySpecifically, the town of Martinsville, Virginia has dedicated itself to stamping out shoplifting, a problem that officials say is growing and increasingly harmful, both to residents and local businesses. According to statistics from 2014, shoplifting accounted for a surprising 21 percent of all reported Part 1 crimes in Martinsville (Part 1 crimes are a category of criminal charges that impact the safety and well being of residents).

 

The Martinsville Police Department has decide to dedicate resources to combating the scourge of shoplifting, including assigning reports of shoplifting incidents to special criminal investigators. The increased resources appear to be paying off, as the Martinsville Police Department says that preliminary numbers from 2015 indicate that the department has an 86 percent clearance rate on shoplifting crimes, meaning 86 percent of reported shoplifting incidents resulted in an arrest.

 

The local Commonwealth’s Attorney says that his office has decided to work in conjunction with the police department and is aggressively pursuing shoplifting cases. Even though these cases typically involve shoplifting low value items from grocery stores or other chains like CVS or Wal-Mart, prosecutors are fighting for stiff penalties, including felony prosecution for those cases that allow it.  In fact, prosecutors are even asking judges to impose significant jail time in shoplifting cases over $200, an attempt to deter others by sending a strong message to would-be shoplifters.

 

Though shoplifting may not be treated as such a high priority crime here in Charlotte, the reality is that prosecutors can and do bring criminal charges for shoplifting all the time, even in cases that may appear relatively insignificant. In North Carolina, the law defines shoplifting more formally as “larceny of goods”. This occurs when a person takes property away, without an owner’s consent, with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property.

 

Charges for larceny of goods (shoplifting) depend on the value of the goods that have been stolen. Typically, when the total value of the merchandise taken exceeds $1,000, the crime will be charged as a felony. However, and this is important to note, there are specific exceptions where shoplifting less than $1,000 can also result in felony charges. This can occur when a person uses a lined bag to avoid antitheft devices, when a person removes or damages an antitheft device, when a person attaches a false price tag or, curiously, when a person uses an emergency exit door to leave a business with goods values at $200 or more. In these cases, the crimes could result in Class H felony charges, which include possible jail time of between 4 and 25 months.

 

In addition to the criminal penalties that come with shoplifting (and the stain on your criminal record), those convicted face civil claims for compensation. The stores whose goods were stolen are allowed to bring a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator to recover the value of any goods stolen. In cases where minors were responsible for the shoplifting, guardians will be liable for paying the damages.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.martinsvillebulletin.com/news/shoplifting-putting-the-pinch-on-police-businesses/article_077caeac-6034-54b1-bc7e-acf564013dc9.html

 

 

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

 

Normally when a person stands accused of committing a crime, he or she seeks out a skilled criminal defense attorney to help prepare the strongest defense possible. The goal is to rely on the lawyer’s legal expertise to ensure you achieve the best resolution possible. Curiously, some defendants appear to be more interested in pursuing a bizarre and unsuccessful approach, known as the “Moorish defense”. To find out more, keep reading.

 

Moorish tile Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI attorneyThe Moorish Defense is a strategy that has been employed by desperate criminal defendants across the country, an attempt by many to avoid prosecution by claiming that they are exempt from American laws and criminal punishment. In fact, back in 2011, the tactic had a brief burst of popularity here in Charlotte and the number of defendants claiming the Moorish Defense actually temporarily slowed down the already overloaded justice system.

 

The same issue appears to have also bedeviled prosecutors and judges in Baltimore, with an article from 2013 discussing the renewed popularity of the Moorish Defense amongst some. The Moorish Defense got its name from the religious group the Moorish American Science Temple. The religious and civil rights organization, which was founded in the early 1900s, says that the defendants are twisting their religious teachings to serve their own interests. A spokesperson for the organization made clear that the group does not teach that membership exempts individuals from the American justice system.
Despite repeated protestations from the organization, it has not stopped some defendants from embracing the tactic, arguing that as Moorish-Americans (meaning of Moroccan descent) they are exempt from prosecution in the U.S. Some point to an obscure treaty signed between the U.S. and Morocco in 1787 as evidence of their exemption, yet the strategy has universally met with failure.

 

Prosecutors and judges say that though many people have tried to make such claims, often based on misinformation from others picked up in jail or on the streets, the approach is not one that will lead to a successful conclusion for defendants. In most cases, when defendants refuse to accept the legitimacy of the court to hear the case, they often become disruptive, making frequent objections in court. Though this can result in delays, it typically ends in the defendant being dismissed from the courtroom and the trial going forward in his or her absence.

 

Experts agree that the Moorish Defense is just one in a long line of half-cocked legal ideas embraced by desperate and confused criminal defendants. In other cases, defendants have argued that they are emissaries from the Pope and thus immune from prosecution or that because their names were written in capital letters in court documents they ought to be set free. Before embracing any of these colorful defense tactics, it is far better to spend some time consulting with a skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorney. Run your questions past someone who has been down the road before and listen thoughtfully to their advice. Once you’ve done your homework you can always decide how you wish to proceed, but it’s always better to do so after first gathering information.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-11-04/news/bs-md-ci-moorish-american-20131103_1_murder-and-arson-moore-trials

 

 

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers callers’ questions during a 30 minute radio interview with the Legal Forum. Recorded in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County North Carolina.

 

Most people have heard of ignition interlock devices before. People are vaguely familiar with the idea that a device is attached to your car that you must first blow into before the ignition will turn over. Beyond this bit of information, most people are in the dark about the specifics for how and when ignition interlock devices are used. To find out more about ignition interlock devices and how they work in North Carolina, keep reading.

 

handing a flask Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyWhat is an ignition interlock device?

 

At its most basic level, an ignition interlock device is a piece of equipment that is installed in vehicles to prevent drunk driving. The device functions in much the same way as a breathalyzer, measuring and analyzing the makeup of a person’s breath to determine if the driver has consumed alcohol and, if so, how much. Once a device has been installed in a vehicle, the person will not be able to start the car until he or she delivers a breath sample. The ignition interlock device then scans to ensure that the driver’s BAC is not beyond a pre-set level.

 

Why is an ignition interlock device used?

 

Some people wonder why ignition interlock devices are used at all, the idea being that it’s better to simply take away drunk drivers’ licenses. Though this may seem theoretically more effective at keeping drunk drivers off the road, it has been shown to be practically of little use. The reason is that simply taking away someone’s driver’s license, or adding restrictions to their operation, will not help solve the problem. People will still drive if they really want to and the only thing that works at that point is an ignition interlock device, which can actually intervene in the event a drunk driver tries to turn on the ignition. The devices have been shown to be so effective that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has strongly pushed for their use, shifting their attention to ignition interlock devices rather than increasing punishment of convicted of drivers.

 

When are ignition interlock devices used?

 

In North Carolina, the law currently says that drunk drivers who have been convicted of repeat drunk driving offenses, those who refuse to take a blood-alcohol test and those who blow a .15 BAC or higher are required to use an ignition interlock device if they want to be able to regain the right to drive a vehicle. The law says that drivers who have their licenses revoked for a year must use the device for a year. Those who have their licenses revoked for four years must use the device for three years and those who have been given a permanent revocation must use the device for seven years. That means the program is relatively narrowly used, sparing many thousands of drivers each and every year who don’t qualify. So far, more than 11,000 drivers in North Carolina have court-ordered ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

 

Are there any changes in store?

 

Currently, there’s a push among legislators in North Carolina to dramatically broaden the usage of the devices. One idea currently under consideration is to require all convicted drunk drivers, including first timers, to install an ignition interlock device if they want the right to drive again. Should the idea gain traction and pass the legislature experts believe an additional 2,500 to 10,000 drivers would be required to use the devices.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/article25785157.html

 

 

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http://www.freeimages.com/photo/flask-1562579

 

 

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

 

Given the current Powerball fever, it’s fitting that a former lottery winner in North Carolina is in the news. Conventional wisdom says that those who win the lotto eventually fritter the money away, buying new houses, cars, taking expensive vacations or giving money away as gifts to eager (or greedy) relatives. Marie Holmes, the North Carolina woman who won a $188 million Powerball drawing last February, has taken a different approach: spending a substantial amount of her new money paying to keep her boyfriend, Lamar “Hot Sauce” McDow, out of jail.

 

lotto ticket Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DUI AttorneyThe trouble began almost immediately for Ms. Holmes. After winning the Powerball, she opted to take the lump sum cash payout, totaling $88 million. Within a few weeks of winning, Hot Sauce had already landed himself in hot water. He was arrested and given the option of being released on $3 million bond. That amount of money would be enough to keep most people locked up, but not if you are the live-in boyfriend of a newly minted millionaire. Hot Sauce was instead bailed out.

 

Several months after that, Hot Sauce found himself behind bars yet again, in August. This time, bond doubled, to $6 million. His loving girlfriend barely batted an eye and continued footing the bill, getting him released yet again. Hot Sauce was then arrested a third time in October, police say for behavior related to gang activity. Amazingly, Hot Sauce was arrested again, time number four in less than a year, only a few weeks ago. Police say this time Hot Sauce was arranging an illegal street race involving two Corvettes going over 100 miles per hour.

 

Hot Sauce was caught because of the GPS monitoring system that he had been forced to wear. The system showed that he was at a location that was not on his approved list, meaning home, work, church, doctor or court. Police arrived and spotted Hot Sauce, arresting him and carting him off to jail. This time, his bond was set at an astounding $12 million. And how did it end? Yet again, the Powerball money came to the rescue and bailed Hot Sauce out of his sticky situation.

 

One question you may have at this point is why did bail increase so dramatically for seemingly nonviolent offenses? The reason is that bonds automatically double if a defendant is found to have broken the rules of a pre-trial release program. The reasoning behind this harsh punishment is to incentivize those who are granted pre-trial release to take the opportunity seriously and avoid messing up again. Those who fail to seize the chance are hit with a pretty big stick. For most people, the doubling of fines would have been enough to succeed in keeping them locked up, but not if someone you know and love has tens of millions of dollars sitting around.

 

The second thing you might want to understand is what have all of Hot Sauce’s shenanigans cost? It’s hard to tell, because it isn’t 100% clear how the bond has been paid. When it comes to bond, there are 2 options: First, the full amount of the bond could be posted by the defendant (or on behalf of the defendant) in what’s known as a cash bond. In this case, assuming the defendant attends all court dates, the money would be refunded at the end of the process minus any court costs or fines. If that happened here, then it would’ve cost at least $21 million in upfront fees.

 

Far more likely is the second option, and that is a surety bond paid by a bail bondsman. Under this approach, the defendant (or loved one) pays a bondsman a set fee who then pays the full amount of the bond to the court. So long as the defendant attends the court hearings, no more money is owed to the bondsman, however, this initial fee is never refunded. Typically, though not always, these fees are 10% of the total bond. That would mean Hot Sauce’s legal escapades have run up a bond bill of more than $2.1 million, nonrefundable.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/n-powerball-winner-boyfriend-posts-12m-bond-article-1.2483060

 

 

Image Credit:

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/lottery-winner-1427640

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: “What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?”

 

Government leaders in Asheville, North Carolina have followed those throughout other cities and states across the country in “banning the box”. Ashville joins six other North Carolina local governments in deciding to remove criminal history questions form their job applications. The move is an important one for those in western North Carolina and, more broadly, for prospective employees with criminal histories across the country who may now be more likely to receive a fair shake when applying for work.

 

Check box Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg Felony AttorneyBan the box legislation, also known as “fair chance” legislation, is a recent idea that has begun to gain traction as advocates for criminal justice reform have seized the issue nationwide. The movement grew out of a larger frustration that those who may have had run ins with the law when they were young, often for nonviolent drug crimes, are made to feel the punishment of those mistakes years and even decades into the future. A relatively small mistake, often brought on by economic need or lack of opportunity, could effectively cripple a person for the rest of their life, making it difficult if not impossible to secure gainful employment even after their debt to society had been repaid.

 

By banning the box, advocates say that those with criminal histories stand a better chance of being considered for roles they might otherwise be qualified for. Current job applications contain a box asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. Simply checking yes often serves as a gatekeeper, meaning that possibly great candidates are rejected out of hand. By removing this box from the application, those with criminal records can make it further into the process before the background check occurs, giving them an opportunity to impress employers who may, at that point, be more willing to accept the blemished record.

 

It’s important to note that the fair chance legislation does not prevent anyone from performing background checks or for refusing to hire those with criminal histories. All it does is remove the question from the earliest stage of the job application process. The goal is to allow employers to get to know candidates better before raising the issue of previous criminal infractions.

 

In Asheville, the new legislation will apply only to government agencies. That being said, the mayor has said that she hopes Asheville can lead the way and encourage private employers in the area to follow suit. It would take action on the state level to mandate that private employers in North Carolina similarly ban the box, something that has not yet been proposed.

 

Currently, 19 states have adopted fair chance legislation for government positions. North Carolina is sadly not among these states. Of these 19 states, 7 have gone a step farther and specifically banned private employers form asking about criminal history in the preliminary stages of the job application process. Here in North Carolina, Asheville joins the ranks of Carrboro, Charlotte, Durham, Durham County, Cumberland County and Spring Lake in attempting to level the playing field for those who have already paid their debt to society and now simply want a chance to earn an honest living.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/01/04/crime-and-employment-asheville-banning-box/78127810/

 

 

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http://www.freeimages.com/photo/checkbox-1236685

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: “What is an expungement?”

 

Today was a big day for those advocating change to harsh criminal laws that allow young offenders to be charged in the adult criminal justice system. Currently, New York and North Carolina are the only two states in the country where 16 and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults. Though this still remains true, New York took a huge step to rectifying some of the problems caused by trying juveniles as adults.

 

ball and chain Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg expungement attorneyGovernor Andrew Cuomo announced to much fanfare today that he would begin the process of issuing pardons to more than 10,000 convicted juvenile offenders in New York. The announcement means that those convicted of certain crimes when they were still teenagers will no longer be required to report these issues on applications for employment, something meant to increase their odds of landing a job.

 

The current proposal put forward by Governor Cuomo is that those offenders who were 16 or 17 at the time of their convictions will receive provisional pardons if they have managed to go 10 years without committing subsequent crimes. The conditional pardons will not be available to absolutely every juvenile offender, only those who were originally convicted of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies. Those with violent felonies will be left with a criminal record. The governor’s office said that they will start by reaching out to those convicted in 2004, and work their way backwards, helping the offenders apply online for the pardon.

 

The goal of the pardons is to ensure that youthful mistakes, even serious ones, don’t end up ruining the rest of someone’s life. For a long time, the idea was that by punishing individuals harshly you could reduce the prevalence of crime. This is why juveniles in New York are prosecuted as adults, an attempt to impose serious consequences and, in so doing, lower the crime rate. Though this may sound good in theory, the reality is that harsh punishments have only made it more likely that juvenile offenders will reoffend, not less.

 

Critics of the current system point out that by treating teens as adult offenders, you make it far more likely that they will lead a life of crime. These teens are stigmatized and their criminal records make it difficult if not impossible to be introduced back into society as productive citizens. Too many jobs depend on passing a criminal background check and one mistake many years ago can still be enough to cost someone, even someone amply qualified, a job. Without the ability to find employment, there becomes an even greater pull back into the criminal world, leading to a cycle of increased criminality.

 

The hope is that by pardoning some of these juvenile offenders, a door can be opened allowing them to lead honest, hardworking lives. Eliminating some of the stigma surrounding juvenile criminal offenses will hopefully help reduce recidivism, something that the current approach of handing down harsh punishments has only exacerbated.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.startribune.com/ny-governor-issuing-pardons-to-former-juvenile-offenders/363149481/

 

 

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http://www.freeimages.com/photo/old-ball-and-chain-series-1-1552304

 

 

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: “What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?”

 

Most employers understand that if there are problems with workplace safety they could face some serious and potentially expensive consequences. Injuries to employees can lead to higher workers’ compensation premiums, money spent on litigation and, should the Occupational Safety and Health Administration catch wind of the trouble, serious fines and other enforcement action. Additionally, employers can suffer serious reputational damage, among both employees and customers, if workers suffer harm due to lapses in workplace safety.

 

Handcuffs Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Plaza Midwood DWI AttorneyWhat many employers may not understand is that beyond these potential financial consequences, workplace safety violations can occasionally lead to the risk of criminal prosecution. This creates an even more serious incentive to ensure that workers remain safe because a failure to protect workers could jeopardize a boss’ freedom. To find out more about how workplace safety violations can lead to criminal prosecution, keep reading.

 

There are currently three defined categories of instances where OSHA violations can lead to criminal prosecution. The first is when there has been a willful violation of a standard promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act that leads to the death of an employee. Second is when an employer provides advance notice of an upcoming OSHA inspection. Finally, OSHA can pursue criminal prosecution when falsified documents are filed or false statements are given to OSHA inspectors conducting an investigation into a workplace safety violation.

 

Beyond these three clear instances where criminal prosecution by OSHA is allowed, it’s also possible that employers could be prosecuted for violations of criminal statutes that are related to OSHA violations. Examples of these include general criminal prohibitions against making false statements, witness tampering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. This means that interested prosecutors eager to make a case can often find other bases for justifying criminal charges.

 

Currently, employers who are eventually found guilty face misdemeanor conviction. Even in cases where a worker dies, the maximum punishment for violating OHSA laws is a misdemeanor. These misdemeanor convictions come with fines and a potential maximum 6-month stay in jail. It’s for this reason that some have advocated that OSHA be given expanded powers for prosecuting negligent employers. One proposal that’s been floated in Washington recently would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges for incidents that result in the death of employees. Should this be implemented, employers would face penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

 

A recent memo on the subject from the Attorney General indicated that criminal prosecutions related to workplace safety violations are likely to increase over the coming years. Already, over the past few years the number of OSHA-related prosecutions have increased substantially. In the future, many experts say that they believe employers should be especially cautious as political pressure will likely lead to increased enforcement efforts on the part of OSHA administrators.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://news.industrysafe.com/osha-recordkeeping-and-compliance/will-osha-increase-criminal-prosecutions-for-workplace-safety-violations/

 

 

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http://www.freeimages.com/photo/hand-cuffs-1255790

 

 

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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?”

 

Dave Pollizi and his wife noticed something unusual while at their Lake Wylie home the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Cars were parked in the backyard of the vacant mansion next door.

 

Lake Minnetonka Mansion Charlotte Criminal LawyerThe $650,000 mansion, owned by former Carolina Panthers player Jeff Otah, has been vacant since the team released Otah in August of 2012.  Born in Nigeria, Otah moved to the United States at age seven and played his college football at the University of Pittsburgh.  After being selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, nagging knee problems ultimately derailed Otah’s career.  He finished his last three seasons with the team on injured reserve.

 

After observing the parked cars in Otah’s yard, Pollizi called 911 to alert authorities of a possible break-in.  York County sheriff deputies found a fifteen-year-old and two sixteen-year-olds inside the home.  The three teenagers were charged with trespass and possession of alcohol.

 

Criminal trespass in North Carolina is found in Chapter 14 of the N.C. General Statutes.  Second degree trespass, a Class 3 misdemeanor, is committed by a person who, without authorization, enters or remains on another person’s premises after being notified not to enter or remain there, or there are posted signs not to enter the premises.  First degree trespass, a Class 2 misdemeanor, is committed by a person who, without authorization, enters or remains on another person’s premises so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate a clear intent to keep out intruders, or enters or remains in a building of another.

 

Because the deputies also found several cases of beer in the home, the teens were charged with possession of alcohol.  North Carolina takes alcohol-related offenses very seriously, and under the state’s “zero tolerance” approach to underage drinking, any person under the age of 21 who possesses or consumes alcohol may be convicted of an underage drinking offense.  Furthermore, these types of convictions can permanently tarnish a young person’s record and create major obstacles to obtaining education and finding a job.  Because the stakes are so high, it is extremely important to contact an attorney who has experience handling these charges.

 

As for the next step in the investigation, deputies are now trying to determine exactly how the teens came to be in possession of the alcohol.  When asked if the person who bought the alcohol could possibly be charged, Trent Faris with the York County Sheriff’s Office indicated that there is a strong possibility.

 

In North Carolina, a person’s age determines what level of crime an offender is charged with under the aiding and abetting statutes.  A person under the age of 21 who buys, provides, or gives wine, beer, or liquor to someone who is underage may be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, whereas a person over the lawful age to purchase and who aids and abets may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

 

According to Pollizi, residents of the upscale Lake Wylie neighborhood are not taking this incident lightly.  “Definitely the neighborhood is alerted and everybody’s watching now,” he said.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

 

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/teens-found-former-panthers-vacant-lake-wylie-mans/npbrs/

http://espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp12/story/_/id/8227024/carolina-panthers-release-jeff-otah-failed-trade-new-york-jets

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_14/Article_22B.pdf

https://www.arnoldsmithlaw.com/underage-drinking.html

http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_18B/GS_18B-302.html

 

 

Image Credit:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Lake_Minnetonka_Mansion_Minnesota_2626642052_o.jpg

By Tony Webster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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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?”

 

It’s often the most dramatic scene in any legal TV show or movie: the moment when the witness on the stand points to the person who committed the crime. Though this moment can make for great TV and is often portrayed as an authoritative identification, the reality is far murkier. Critics of current law enforcement practices involving witness identification say that reform is badly needed as innocent men and women go to prison due to faulty IDs. To find out more about the current process and the changes some say are needed, keep reading.

 

Metal bars Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg Drug Charge AttorneyA good example of the problem that critics (chief among them, the Innocence Project) say needs to be addressed comes from North Carolina. Back in 1985, a man named Ronald Cotton was convicted of raping a woman due, almost entirely, to her eyewitness testimony. During a retrial that took place a few years later, the woman again ID’d Cotton as her rapist. It wasn’t until 1995, 10 years later, that DNA tests were done proving the identification was wrong and that Cotton was an innocent man. Interestingly, Cotton and his victim are now good friends and among the fiercest advocates for change to current eyewitness identification procedures.

 

The problem is not nearly as rare as you might imagine (or hope). The Innocence Project says that in over 70 percent of the cases where a defendant is later exonerated by DNA evidence, the convictions are based largely on faulty eyewitness identification. This means hundreds and thousands of people are forced to endure time behind bars all because another person got the ID wrong.

 

Advocates for reform are quick to point out that the misidentification is seldom the result of malice on the part of the victim. On the contrary, most victims are only trying to do the right thing and point out the person they believe is responsible for the crime. The problem is that law enforcement’s current procedures can sometimes stack the deck in a way that encourages misidentification.

 

A good example of this is that many law enforcement agencies produce photo arrays, usually of six people, and ask the victim to pick out the suspect. The problem with this approach is that rather than look for the perpetrator, people begin to compare what they remember against the photos in front of them. The Innocence Project recommends that officers show victims photos one at a time, making sure not to linger very long on any of them. Statistics show that if victims aren’t able to identify someone within as little as 10 seconds, accuracy begins to drop precipitously.

 

Another bit of advice from the Innocence Project is to have the person administering the lineup not be involved in the case, but someone who has no knowledge of the crime or suspects. That way, officers can avoid the risk of giving subtle hints or clues about certain people, something that witnesses may easily pick up on.

 

In the end, the goal isn’t to help criminals go free, it’s to ensure that the right people are arrested for their crimes. The hope is that this is something criminal reform advocates and law enforcement agencies have in common, the desire to put the right people behind bars.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=37756680&nid=148&title=new-ways-to-question-eyewitnesses-could-prevent-wrongful-convictions-group-says&s_cid=queue-3 

 

 

Image Credit:

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/behind-bars-2-1469612

 

 

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http://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC?feature=watch

 

 

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

 

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard an important case concerning the use of drug-sniffing dogs. As is often the case following an important Supreme Court ruling, states and lower courts have since struggled with how to implement the new rule and apply it to similar, though not identical, fact patterns.

 

dog close up Charlotte Criminal Attorney Mecklenburg DWI LawyerA good example of that struggle occurred recently in Iowa where the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an important ruling that applied some needed constraints to the ability of law enforcement to use drug-sniffing dogs without a warrant. The case began when police officers used a drug-sniffing dog to patrol the area outside of a person’s apartment, coming within inches of the person’s window. The police never bothered to secure a warrant, knowing they lacked, at that point, sufficient evidence to justify a search.

 

Instead of going about the process the proper way, by taking their suspicions to a judge and asking that the judge authorize a search of the person’s home, the police decided to take advantage of a loophole in many states’ criminal codes that allow drug dogs to be used in common areas of apartment buildings and condominiums, while denying the police the right to do the same thing at a person’s private residence.

 

The defense appealed the conviction that resulted from the use of the drug dog, eventually making it before the 8th Circuit. The defense argued that the use of drug dogs in these common areas of apartment buildings and condo complexes is unconstitutional in that it violates the person’s Fourth Amendment rights to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure. The defense went even further and said the loopholes in criminal law that prevent police from using drug dogs at a private home, but allow the searches in multifamily units, is discriminatory. The justification for this claim is that the rule disproportionately impacts lower-income individuals who are far less likely than higher-income individuals to own their own homes.

 

Though the approach is a novel one, it was ultimately successful, with the 8th Circuit ruling that police were wrong to bring the drug dog within inches of a person’s apartment window without first securing a valid warrant. The Court ruled that the space outside the person’s window was not a common area as the government had argued. The reason is that there was no walkway leading up to the window; in fact, there was a bush and a grill there that prevented it from being easily accessed.

 

Though this represents a small victory, the reality is that more cases are needed to test the bounds of the 2013 Supreme Court case. For instance, will hallways in apartment complexes that are accessed without keys be seen as a common or uncommon space? In one recent case, police in North Dakota were allowed to sneak into an apartment building and walk a drug dog through the halls, all without a warrant. The invasive search led to an arrest and the person unsuccessfully appealed his conviction, losing before the North Dakota Supreme Court, which said such areas lacked the expectation of privacy. Given the recent 8th Circuit ruling, it seems likely that this and other cases will be reevaluated.

 

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and is in need of the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please give me a call to set up an appointment today. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 

About the Author

Brad Smith Charlotte Criminal and DWI LawyerBrad Smith is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of criminal defense, DUI / DWI defense and traffic defense.

Mr. Smith was born and raised in Charlotte. He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney before entering private practice in 2006.

In his free time, Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, boating, golf, hiking and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.postbulletin.com/news/crime/attorneys-say-drug-dog-ruling-shows-flaws-in-law/article_3610717c-4653-5dd4-b3f8-56d63b6a1fd2.html

 

 

Image Credit:

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/sly-eyed-dog-1396220

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC?feature=watch

 

 

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