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Charlotte has a major heroin problem. The city is ranked fifth in the country when it comes to the sale and distribution of black tar heroin, much of which occurs in Charlotte’s more affluent communities. This problem has been described as Charlotte’s “invisible drug epidemic” and there are some disconcerting numbers to prove it.

Heroin Prep Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyIn 2013, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department – South Division, released reports showing that in 2013 south Charlotte heroin related overdoses and arrests increased by over 30 percent. What is also alarming is the average age of heroin users is decreasing as well. In a survey of heroin users, 33.3 percent first used heroin when they were 16-18 years old. Of those users surveyed, 53.2 percent said they could usually obtain heroin within 30 minutes. This easy accessibility can be attributed to the largely untouched market in the south charlotte area, which has generally had low gang activity making it a target for drug dealers to expand their market and find new customers.

Heroin is an opiate that shares properties with commonly abused prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. These painkillers are being abused more and more over the last decade, causing addictions that required constant use just to feel “normal”. As more state governments began regulating these drugs the illegal market’s supply dwindled causing a substantial increase in prices. As prices rose, those abusing these painkillers have begun to turn to heroin as a much cheaper alternative at around nine dollars per bag versus 60-100 dollars per pill. It has also become a common practice for heroin dealers to offer deals for buying in bulk.

The sale of heroin in Charlotte has become increasingly easy. Phone numbers float around where a user can call and make an order, the dispatcher instructs the customer where to go (usually a safe place like a mall parking lot or a public park) and a runner meets the customer with the heroin; the exchange can take place without ever leaving the car.

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Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”

 

An Arizona man executed Wednesday was denied access to information about drugs used during his execution. The man’s lawyers fought unsuccessfully to obtain information about the drugs and whether those conducting the execution had any experience using them.

Lethal Injection Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Attorney North Carolina Criminal Defense LawyerThe man—Joseph Rudolph Wood, III—was sedated at 1:57 p.m. after a stay of his execution entered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court. The stay had been entered to allow Wood’s lawyers additional time to explore the efficacy of drugs to be used in the execution. States like Arizona have shrouded the identity of drugs and their makers in secrecy after the United Kingdom and European Union imposed restrictions in 2010 and 2011 on the export of anesthetics used in executions.

The ban on exports led to a shortfall of pentobarbital and sodium thiopental—two drugs traditionally used in lethal injections—leading states conducting executions to seek out substitutes. One state—Oklahoma—used a new drug combination during the April 29 execution of 38-year-old Clayton Lockett. Lockett was declared unconscious ten minutes into his execution, but three minutes later he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off a pillow. That prompted prison officials to lower the blinds to prevent those in the viewing gallery from seeing what was happening. Lockett eventually died of a heart attack.

In the Arizona case, after being sedated, Wood continued breathing and began gasping and snorting, according to his lawyers. An emergency hearing was convened, and the Arizona State Supreme Court was actually hearing from Wood’s lawyers when Wood was declared dead—some two hours after the execution began. A spokesperson for the Arizona attorney general’s office who also witnessed the execution said Wood was only snoring. “It was quite peaceful,” the spokesperson said. “He just laid there.”

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

 

When Bill Walker took the stand to address the young woman who killed his son, Chris, in a hit-and-run accident, those present in a Cincinnati courtroom were witness to one of the most extraordinary and unexpected acts of forgiveness chronicled in criminal courts of justice in recent years.

We do not forgive sign Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyWith his son’s killer standing just feet away, Mr. Walker—joined by Chris’s mother—told Lauren Balint that she was “totally forgiven. I hope you get married and have a good, long life.” Mr. Walker added that he wished his son had never stumbled onto Interstate 71 in front of Ms. Balint’s vehicle, because the accident had affected her life as well. Mr. Walker said forgiveness was the best gift he could give Ms. Balint in the circumstances.

The courts of criminal justice have long been known as adversarial settings in which prosecutors fight on behalf of state and federal governments to prove alleged criminals guilty, while accused criminals fight to prove their innocence. If guilt is established, the state or federal government seeks to punish a convict to the fullest extent possible under the law, while a convict seeks the most lenient sentence available.

These are broad generalizations, but in general our adversarial system of justice is one that provides little room for cooperation, especially in the arena of criminal law. A criminal case sets out the nature of the action in its caption: State of North Carolina v. Doe. The “v” stands for “versus,” or against. In the typical criminal case, the State is seeking to hold “Doe” accountable for his actions and to punish him.

In recent years, States including North Carolina have allowed victims of crimes to take the stand to describe the impact that criminal offenses have had on their lives. These “impact statements” may be considered by a judge or jury during the sentencing phase of a trial, after a defendant has been found guilty. Victims can describe any physical, psychological or emotional injury suffered as a result of a criminal offense, and can also explain how a criminal act has resulted in economic or property loss to the victim.

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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?”

 

Police in Pineville are telling would-be criminals to think twice before executing any misdeeds in the tiny suburb south of Charlotte. Or if someone does set out to commit a crime in Pineville, one should choose a corner of a parking lot where one is not going to see too many people.

Security Camera Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI DUI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThe new round-the-clock wireless camera network does not cover the corners of a parking lots where one won’t see too many people, says Pineville Police Lieutenant S.C. Copley. Instead, the initial half-dozen cameras installed by the town are trained on Jack Hughes Park, where the action is.

Copley said the cameras are monitored. “We can keep an eye on any suspicious activity with people, maybe looking into cars,” Copley told WCNC. He thinks it’s a good thing that the cameras haven’t led to many arrests in their first two months of operation. Would-be criminals see the cameras and check themselves before they wreck themselves, he implied. “This isn’t a covert operation,” Copley said.

Cameras are “pretty much everywhere” already, Copley added, so having a live feed of the goings-on in Pineville available at the click of a mouse at the police station is “beneficial for safety.” Copley said officers can tap into the cameras at any moment to see exactly what is going on in a given location.

Pineville is home to Carolina Place Mall and some 8-million square feet of retail space, but the cameras won’t reach any of those spaces. It is likely that most or all of the retail facilities have cameras of their own, however, and Pineville Police Chief Robert Merchant is encouraging other businesses to follow suit. If they do, they can join the wireless police network. Merchant said police wouldn’t monitor feeds from private businesses in real time—they could if they wanted to, presumably—but officers “will have immediate access to playback… in case of an incident.”

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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?”

 

Last week, Amy Arrington illustrated how not to handle an impending court appearance. Arrington, of Gaston County, faked her own disappearance during a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach in order to avoid court in Charlotte on fraud charges. She turned herself in after additional charges were levied against her and husband Paul Arrington over the staged disappearance.

Two Car Accident Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyNow police have identified 48-year-old Jeffrey Wayne Greene as the man who illustrated Sunday how not to handle the problem of outstanding warrants. Police received a tip early Sunday that Greene was staying at the Days Inn in Huntersville. Greene was a wanted man in Mecklenburg and Lincoln Counties in North Carolina and York County, South Carolina. He faced a slew of charges ranging from resisting an officer and fleeing arrest to obtaining property by false pretense.

Before police officers could arrest him, Greene fled, leading officers on northbound Interstate 77 from Exit 28 to Exit 33. Greene then exited the interstate and continued north on Highway 21 until he struck a patrol car while making a U-turn.

Greene then fled south, again on Interstate 77, before crossing the median at mile marker 24 and heading northbound again. Greene then exited the interstate and fled south on Highway 21 before crossing the centerline and crashing into two oncoming vehicles. Six people, including Greene, were injured in the crash. All are expected to survive. Police said Greene will be facing additional charges when he is released from the hospital.

The Greene and Arrington cases appear to illustrate a simple truth: you can run from the law, but you won’t get away.

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

 

A Gaston County woman did not drown in the ocean near North Myrtle Beach on July 5. Police are sure of that, but they do not know where Amy Lynette Arrington is. Her husband, Paul Arrington, reported her missing, and initial news reports focused on Mrs. Arrington’s last-known whereabouts: she was last seen on the beach near 24th Avenue North wearing a red bathing suit with a floral design and brown trim. Police used jet skis and boats to locate her.

Jury Box Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI DUI LawyerNow police say Mr. Arrington’s report was false. They have charged him with filing a false police report and said they have reserved the right to seek repayment for costs associated with searching for Mrs. Arrington.

Questions about Mr. Arrington’s missing person story were raised after it was revealed that Mrs. Arrington was supposed to appear in court in Charlotte for trial the following Monday. She was charged with identity theft in October 2013 after she allegedly used another woman’s account to buy thousands of dollars of merchandise on Amazon.com and pay cable and bank bills.

Mrs. Arrington reportedly has a long criminal history, with convictions in Wake, Union and Mecklenburg Counties. If she faked her own death or disappearance to avoid her day of legal reckoning, she is not alone. In fact, faking one’s death or disappearance to avoid court is quite common.
In 2011, a Tennessee woman accused of stealing $2,500 from a Macy’s department store had her case dropped after court officials received a death certificate showing the woman had died in Kentucky from a drug overdose.

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

 

A York, S.C. man was arrested over the weekend after a disagreement over a bicycle he said a man stole from him. The man, Randall L. Hunnicutt, said the man stole his bicycle and money out of his wallet. The man admitted he had borrowed Hunnicutt’s bike four days earlier, but he told police he had returned it. He denied taking the money.

Arrested at gunpoint Charlotte Mecklenburg DUI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal Defense AttorneyThe argument began on Hunnicutt’s porch in York. After being accused by Hunnicutt, the man tried to walk away. Hunnicutt asked his son to bring him his shotgun. He then loaded the shotgun and began poking the weapon in the man’s face.

The man started to walk away, but Hunnicutt followed him and pushed him down, poking him with the shotgun. After Hunnicutt pulled the trigger, the man ran to a neighbor’s house and called police. Apparently the weapon did not discharge.

Nevertheless, Hunnicutt was charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. It is unclear whether additional charges are pending.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Hunnicutt’s age, as listed on the police report, is 29. The age of Hunnicutt’s son is unclear; also unclear is whether the son retrieved ammunition that Hunnicutt used to load the shotgun. In any case, the inference can be drawn that Hunnicutt’s son was too young to be employed as a shotgun-retriever in a drunken late-night argument between adults.

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2013 Best Lawyer In Charlotte winner Brad Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I need to hire an attorney if I have been falsely accused?”

An old client of mine called me yesterday to report some exciting news: the truth was setting him free. He had been accused of a crime. The police called him and asked him to talk. He did, then he called me.

Man hit by car Charlotte DUI Lawyer Mecklenburg County North Carolina DWI AttorneyI told him the last thing he should do is talk to the police. When they called asking him to take a lie-detector test, he told them he would exercise his 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Good for him.

A few days later, a police officer called to tell him the prosecutor didn’t think there was enough evidence to charge him.

“It’s not over,” I told him. “Just because they don’t have enough evidence now doesn’t mean they won’t gather more evidence and charge you later,” I said. I repeated the ages-old advice from criminal lawyers to clients: Silence is golden.

Many clients of mine – and most people in general – fail to grasp the complexity inherent in how and why people are charged with crimes. In some cases, it seems like the government is in a rush to hold someone accountable for a crime, while in other cases the plodding, methodical conduct of law enforcement and prosecutors drives a justice-hungry public crazy.

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Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Are breath test results always accurate?”

You thought it was July 4th weekend? You’re right, but it’s also “No Refusal Weekend” in Eugene, Oregon. Local and state police in Eugene plan to have prosecutors and judges on standby this weekend to obtain “blood draw warrants” against drivers who refuse to submit to alcohol content testing.

Gas and alcohol Charlotte DWI Lawyer North Carolina DUI AttorneyThis will prevent “people from avoiding full accountability,” police said. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in a 2013 case that police must obtain a warrant before drawing a person’s blood, except in cases of emergency. That case was called Missouri v. McNeely.

The program in Eugene is unique because, evidently, prosecutors and magistrates will be available to issue warrants quickly. The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union gave its blessing to the arrangement; a representative said more warrants in blood-draw cases was a “good thing.”

This could be the dawn of the age of warrants en masse, as litigation in the wake of the McNeely decision may show.  Many people consent to blood draws. Lawyers are now arguing that McNeely requires courts to consider whether, in the totality of the circumstances, consensual blood draws done without a warrant are constitutional.

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Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?”

 

If you or someone you know is facing a criminal matter, it can be confusing to know how best to move forward. Though you might have a vague idea of how the criminal justice system functions, there are likely all kinds of issues that you have questions about. Bail is a good example of an issue that most people have heard of, but may not fully understand. To find out more about how bail works in a North Carolina case, keep reading.

 

Question Mark Charlotte Mecklenburg DWI Lawyer North Carolina Criminal AttorneyWhat is bail?

 

First things first, what is bail? Bail is a system that allows criminal defendants to be released from jail in exchange for money that the court holds onto until the case is over. The money is held as a kind of guarantee that the person will not run off. If you flee, then the money you paid is forfeited and you will face additional charges when you are eventually caught.

 

How does it work?

 

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