Published on:

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

 

A partner at a major national law firm is currently experiencing the fallout from a series of bad decisions she made during a recent flight from Charlotte, NC to London. The case illustrates not only the dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription sleep drugs, but also the serious penalties that can result from misbehavior onboard an airplane.

 

Airplane Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyThe attorney, Sara Buffett, boarded a late night flight for London and took her seat in first class. Things got off to a bad start when the plane’s takeoff was delayed for nearly an hour. Buffett decided to take a sleep medication that she used to help with her insomnia to try and get some sleep during the long flight. For reasons that are still unclear, she then followed the pill with at least three glasses of wine. Making matters even worse, she then refused to eat dinner.

 

The pill and the wine must not have interacted well, given that only a few hours later the pilot was forced to turn the plane around and make an unscheduled landing in Philadelphia. Reports indicate that Buffett became aggressive with the flight crew and, in addition to causing damage to her own seat, attempted to break the aircraft window. Flight attendants tried unsuccessfully to restrain her and needed help from passengers to wrap her legs in tape and tie her hands with plastic ties.

 

Once the plane landed in Philly, police officers removed her forcibly from the cabin. Buffet has now been charged with intimidating a flight crew member and interfering with a flight crew member’s duties. Though the behavior was certainly not good, many people might be surprised to learn that such charges can result in not only a stiff fine, but potential imprisonment for up to 20 years.

 

Buffett was specifically charged with a violation of 49 U.S. Code Section 46504, which states:

 

An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

 

Thankfully for Buffett, the only “weapon” used during her tirade was the remote control from the in-flight entertainment consoles. Reports indicate she used the remote to smash the aircraft window. Though the remote could have eventually caused damage, it would be difficult to imagine a prosecutor making the case that it qualifies as a dangerous weapon. Given this, she won’t need to worry about a possible life sentence for her mid-flight outburst.

 

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://abovethelaw.com/2015/07/biglaw-partner-gets-wasted-on-plane-causes-mid-atlantic-flight-diversion/

 

 

Image Credit:

 

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/airplane-1450830 

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

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

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Running from a charge—and your past—only makes it worse

Woman’s apparent disappearing act to avoid court anything but new

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?”

 

Carrie Underwood tried to warn us ten years ago of the damage she can inflict on a vehicle.  In her 2005 hit song, “Before He Cheats,” Underwood sings of taking a Louisville slugger to a cheating boyfriend’s truck headlights.  That Louisville slugger would have come in handy on July 11th, albeit under very different circumstances.

Carrie Underwood Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DUI AttorneyThe country music star tweeted that her dogs had somehow managed to lock themselves in her vehicle, along with her four-month-old son, Isaiah.  With the help of her brother-in-law, Underwood broke a window to free her son and dogs.  Thankfully, Underwood’s frightening moment had a happy ending.

Now, as a result of a freak accident, Underwood is raising nationwide awareness of the dangers of leaving children and pets in unattended vehicles; her tweets about the ordeal were disseminated to her 4.6 million followers.

In a similar story out of England last week, five-year-old Zavi Ahmed helped save a baby girl who was locked in her grandparents’ car at a grocery store.  Police had smashed the rear window of the vehicle, but they couldn’t fit inside to open a door or grab the keys.  Wearing a Batman costume, young Zavi heroically crawled through the smashed window and freed the little girl.

As July brings scorching heat across the state, remember never to leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle.  Children are at greater risk for heatstroke because their bodies warm at a rate three to five times faster than adults.  Leaving a child in an unattended vehicle may also result in criminal charges to the responsible adult.  Just last year, two Iredell County parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse after their four-week-old child died as a result of being left in a hot car for two hours.

Do not be afraid to act if you walk by a car on a warm day and see that a child left alone in a vehicle appears to be in distress.  First, call 911 and make law enforcement aware of the situation.  If you believe waiting for the police to arrive will endanger the life of the child, take necessary action to free the child.  Good Samaritan Laws in North Carolina provide immunity from liability for those individuals who voluntarily act to render first aid in an emergency situation.

Freeing pets from unattended vehicles requires a slightly different process.  Under North Carolina law, your first step should be to call 911, animal control, or the fire department.  After making that call, make a reasonable effort to locate the owner of the vehicle.  For example, if you are in a Wal-Mart parking lot, go into Wal-Mart and have an employee make an announcement over the intercom.  Once you have made a reasonable effort to locate the owner of the vehicle, wait for the law enforcement officer, animal control officer, or firefighter to arrive.  Only they may enter the vehicle once it is determined that the animal is in distress.

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/police-charge-parents-after-death-4-week-old-left-/ngtkH/

http://www.people.com/article/carrie-underwood-breaks-into-car

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/5-year-old-dressed-as-batman-saves-toddler-trapped-124338929642.html

http://www.shelbystar.com/article/20150518/News/305188773

http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_14/GS_14-363.3.html

http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_90/GS_90-21.14.html

http://newsok.com/child-safety-organization-praises-carrie-underwood-for-breaking-window-to-get-son-dogs-out-of-locked-car/article/5433671

 

 

Image Credit:

Carrie Underwood performing at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado – Author the_diet_starts_mond ay from Colorado

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/CarrieUnderwoodAtTheWorldArena.jpg 

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

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

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Use of criminal law to address societal problems leads to over-criminalization

Visiting child’s school will now necessitate fingerprinting, criminal background checks

Published on:

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

 

The passage of the Controlled Substances Act by the United States Congress in 1970 represented perhaps the largest single legislative effort to address societal problems by use of the criminal law.

Handcuffs in hand Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyThe arc of the Controlled Substances Act—a response to the societal unrest of the late 1960s and the dark side of the hippy era laid bare by the Manson family murders and other gruesome drug-fueled acts—has seen states enact their own Controlled Substances Act analogues, strengthening drug laws and enhancements of drug-related criminal sentences throughout the 1980s and 1990s, followed by a kind of about-face in recent years as state and federal officials face an ever-expanding non-violent prison population at the same time they confront ever-deepening budget woes.

Whether the Controlled Substances Act was a good idea and whether it has served a useful purpose is not the inquiry of this post. Instead, the Act is a useful and prominent example of a larger phenomenon—the use of the criminal law to address societal problems.

When does the criminalization of behavior in order to address societal problems go too far?

Writing in the Boston Herald, Heritage Foundation legal scholar Jordan Richardson defines “over-criminalization” as the “overuse or misuse of criminal law to address societal problems.” Richardson writes that over-criminalization manifests in a variety of ways, from “overly broad definitions of criminal acts… [to] excessively harsh sentencing and criminal sanctions for simple mistakes or accidents.”

Richardson cites some extreme examples in his essay, including the case of Steven Pruner, who was sentenced in 2011 to serve forty-five days in jail for selling hot dogs from a food cart without a license near Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Three Florida fishermen, Richardson notes, were sentenced to serve more than six years in prison after they imported lobsters in plastic sheeting, as opposed to paper, as regulations required.

All too often, Richardson writes, laws that We the People designed for our own benefit and protection ensnare… us! Take for instance local ordinances regarding the handling of foodstuffs and appropriate facilities for storing, handling and serving food. These ordinances were designed to ensure the safety and suitability of food items served in restaurants. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, however, these regulations were used by officials to threaten 90-year-old charity worker Arnold Abbot with arrest and a $500 fine after he was found feeding homeless people in a city park. After Abbott’s case was publicized, local officials backed down, and Abbott was permitted to continue his charitable works.

In New Jersey, meanwhile, a single mother from Pennsylvania named Shaneen Allen faced a mandatory three-year prison sentence after she was found to possess a handgun in her car. Allen had registered the handgun in Pennsylvania, and it was legal for her to carry it there. It was not legal for Allen to carry her gun in New Jersey. Allen did not know that. Only a pardon from Gov. Chris Christie saved her from prison.

At a time when Americans are exploring the dynamics of the relationship between citizens and law-enforcement officers, perhaps we should also examine why we have forced law-enforcement officers into so many areas of our personal lives and the personal lives of our fellow citizens through our criminal laws.

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.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/opinion/op_ed/2015/06/jordan_richardson_too_many_ordinary_people_caught_in_web_of

http://dailysignal.com/2014/05/23/jail-sentence-selling-hot-dogs/

 

 

Image Credit:

“Želízka pro jednu z hráček” by Janakovaz – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C5%BDel%C3%ADzka_pro_jednu_z_hr%C3%A1%C4%8Dek.tif#/media/File:%C5%BDel%C3%ADzka_pro_jednu_z_hr%C3%A1%C4%8Dek.tif

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

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

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Proposed “smoking” ban just the latest assault on personal freedom

Visiting child’s school will now necessitate fingerprinting, criminal background checks

Published on:

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

 

The United States Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a man who prosecutors accused of threatening his wife, coworkers, a kindergarten class and law-enforcement officials in online social-media posts.

Blogger icon Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyThe man, Anthony Douglas Elonis, posted what he later described as “rap lyrics” on his Facebook page. The posts contained violent statements about Elonis’s wife and others. Federal officials charged Elonis with violating a criminal statute that makes it a crime to transmit in interstate commerce “any communication containing any threat… to injure the person of another,” according to the National Law Review.

Elonis was convicted after a jury trial. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld his conviction. Elonis appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that his trial court committed error when it refused to provide an instruction to the jury, before jurors began deliberating, providing that Elonis intended the Facebook posts to constitute threats.

Instead, the trial court told jurors that Elonis was guilty if he intentionally made “a statement in a context or under such circumstances wherein a reasonable person would foresee that the statement would be interpreted by those to whom the maker communicates the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily injury or take the life of an individual.” In other words, the jury was told that if a reasonable person would have read Elonis’s posts as threats, then he was guilty, regardless of whether he intended the statements to serve as threats.

In a seven-to-two decision, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that jurors should have considered Elonis’s mental state before finding him guilty of violating the federal statute. The statute itself “does not explicitly require proof of intent,” the National Law Review notes, but courts have long interpreted criminal statutes as applicable only if the wrongdoer is conscious of the criminality of his or her act.

This concept—guilty mind, or mens rea—dates all the way back to the Roman criminal code. In order to be found guilty of a crime at common law, or pursuant to the body of law that serves as the basis for the American legal system, a defendant must exhibit mens rea as well as actus reus—a guilty mind and a guilty act.

“Federal criminal liability,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the high court’s majority in Elonis, “does not turn solely on the results of an act without considering the defendant’s mental state.”

Some statutes do, however, impose criminal liability for acts, even where an accused lacked the requisite “guilty mind” to commit a criminal act. These statutes are known as “strict liability” statutes. One common “strict liability” statute, found in the laws of most, if not all, states, is the statutory-rape statute. In order to be found guilty of statutory rape, an accused of a certain age must only be found to have had sexual relations with a younger person of a certain age. An accused is guilty only by virtue of engaging in the sexual act; his or her state-of-mind is irrelevant.

Many courts and legal experts have voiced concern in recent years about the spate of new criminal statutes imposing criminal liability upon persons absent any showing of mens rea.

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

jbradley.jpgBrad 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.natlawreview.com/article/supreme-court-limits-criminal-law-s-reach-to-social-media-posts-avoids-first-amendme

 

 

Image Credit:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blogger_Shiny_Icon.svg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

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

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Federal, state governments flooding American society with “crimes”

Nonviolent felonies the real culprit in voter suppression

Published on:

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

 

A man after a woman’s heart may be prone to a bit of puffery, but legislators in New Jersey want to criminalize that puffery when it rises to the level of deception.

Broken Heart Uptown Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneyAssemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, has introduced a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would make “sexual assault by fraud” a criminal offense. “Sexual assault by fraud” is defined as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not.”

The bill is the brainchild of 37-year-old activist Mischele Lewis. She told Philly.com that the bill is important “because trying to deceive anyone for the purpose of sexual gratification is just wrong.” She said that before someone consents “to be intimate with anybody,” one should know “one-hundred percent” who the person is.

Lewis said it is morally wrong to lie to a putative lover, whether one is lying about being married, lying about one’s profession, about one’s “criminal history, parental history, marital history…”

Kathleen Bogle, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at La Salle University in Philadelphia, told Philly.com that law-enforcement authorities actively pursue “sexual predators who try to lure victims into sexual situations through deceit.” However, she said, the legislation proposed by Singleton may cast too wide a net. While she agreed with Lewis that lying to get sex is immoral, it would only be criminal in a fraction of instances.

In a 2013 article in the Yale Law Review, Yale law professor Jed Rubenfield wrote that sex-by-deception should be considered rape, since “a consent procured through deception is no consent at all.”

Lewis became an activist on the issue after she found out her paramour was not really a secret agent working for the British Government, as he had claimed. He had connections with the United Kingdom’s criminal justice system—he had served time there for bigamy and had also been convicted of indecent assault of a minor.

Lewis paid the man $5,000 for a phony security clearance, an act that was criminal: Last year, the man pled guilty to third-degree deception. He was sentenced to three years in a New Jersey prison and ordered to pay the money back.

Prosecutors had tried to charge Lewis’s paramour with sexual assault by coercion, but a grand jury declined to indict the man on that charge.

Singleton told NJ.com that the new legislation will provide a prosecutorial remedy for situations like Lewis’s. “This legislation is designed to provide our state’s judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances,” Singleton said.

Depending on the circumstances, a violation of the proposed act could serve as a first-degree or a second-degree crime, punishable by anywhere from five to twenty years in prison.

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

jbradley.jpgBrad 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.philly.com/philly/living/20150526_Watch_out__lovers_who_lie__Sexual_assault_by_deception_could_become_a_criminal_offense.html

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/11/rape_by_fraud_nj_lawmaker_introduces_bill_to_make_it_a_crime.html

 

 

Image Credit:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broken_Heart.jpg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

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

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Craigslist-post conviction thrown out; criminal defamation law ruled unconstitutional

New hacking legislation could make criminals of us all, say insiders

Published on:

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

 

The axiom that “The truth shall set you free” is, in my opinion, a bit overused and often used out of context. The quote—from the eighth chapter of the Gospel according to John, in the New Testament of the Bible—is quite specific in its meaning.

Laptop Uptown Charlotte Criminal Attorney Mecklenburg DWI LawyerThe quote’s origin notwithstanding, the truth—or at least the specter of truth—torpedoed a Minnesota man’s conviction for criminal defamation last week, and in the process derailed the state’s entire criminal defamation law.

The case involved Timothy Robert Turner. Two summers ago he had an argument with his former girlfriend. After the argument, he was so angry with her that he posted sexually explicit messages apparently sent to him by his former girlfriend as well as messages referencing her daughter on Craigslist, a well-known classified advertising web site.

Several men took the messages as advertisements for sexual activity and contacted both the former girlfriend and her minor daughter on their cell phones. Turner provided working cell-phone numbers for both the ex-girlfriend and her daughter in the posts. Some men sent pornographic images to the minor daughter.

Turner was convicted of criminal defamation and sentenced to a fine and thirty days in jail. He appealed the conviction, however, arguing that Minnesota’s criminal defamation law violated the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment protects persons from infringements upon their freedom of speech, including the criminalization of certain kinds of speech.

Minnesota criminal defense attorney Mark Anfinson said the North Star State’s criminal defamation law—passed in 1963—was “a sitting duck constitutionally for decades.” He added that prosecutions based on criminal defamation in Minnesota were rare even before the Turner case.

John Arechigo, the criminal defense attorney who represented Turner, said he has seen the same kinds of issues arise in so-called “revenge porn” cases. In those instances, angry ex-paramours post sexually explicit photos or videos of their exes, often nude and engaged in erstwhile-consensual sex acts.

Anfinson said that while Turner did not post any photos or videos of the ex-girlfriend or her daughter, he agreed with Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Denise Reilly, who wrote that Turner’s behavior was “reprehensible and defamatory.” Despite that, however, she and two other judges comprising the three-judge panel that considered Turner’s appeal struck down the criminal defamation law, writing that because of its broad language, the law had the potential to criminalize true statements.

Truth is an absolute defense to civil suits based on slander or defamation, and as the Court of Appeals noted, true statements are protected by the First Amendment. In striking down the law, the Court observed that the standard for winning a conviction was actually less stringent than the standard for winning a defamation case in civil court, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In general, given the differing standards, criminal convictions should be more difficult to obtain than prevailing in a civil action.

Anfinson told the Star-Tribune that the Court of Appeals’ ruling is on the side of people “who are clearly guilty of very serious behavior,” but he said the more serious interest is the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. “You can debate the principle, but it’s a noble one,” he said.

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 needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad 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/minnesota-court-strikes-down-criminal-defamation-law-in-overturning-conviction-of-craigslist-revenge-poster/305044301/

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:User_with_Workrave_installed_on_computer.jpg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC/videos

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Conviction overturned because man’s fish were not “tangible objects”

New hacking legislation could make criminals of us all, say insiders

Published on:

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

 

Five years after he was issued two criminal summonses by a New York City police officer for alleged trespassing and disorderly conduct, twenty-four-year-old Sharif L. Stinson is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the City of New York alleging that police officers—under the pressure of a Police Department quota system—“have engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of issuing summonses,” according to the New York Times.

Police Protest Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Uptown DWI Law FirmPolice must have probable cause to issue a criminal summons—the same legal standard required for making an arrest. Summonses are used to combat minor offenses, but issuing a summons to an individual also provides an officer an opportunity to demand identification and to determine if the person to whom the summons is issued has an outstanding warrant for a more serious crime, according to the Times.

Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued a ruling in 2012 granting class-action status to Stinson’s lawsuit, meaning all individuals who had been issued legally insufficient summonses may be entitled to damages. Between 2007 and 2014, some 850,000 criminal summonses were dismissed on the grounds of legal insufficiency, including Stinson’s.

Gerald M. Cohen, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the class of plaintiffs in the lawsuit was in the hundreds of thousands was “constantly growing.” Another lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case—Elinor C. Sutton, said the “sheer numbers [of plaintiffs] show that there is a citywide, systemic problem in the policies that are being used to police.”

Lawyers for the City of New York who have worked in the administrations of former and current mayors Michael R. Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio have fought back against the plaintiffs’ allegations, denying that police officers have to meet quotas and contending that dismissals based on legal insufficiency did not mean that officers lacked probable cause to issue summonses. The City has argued that oftentimes summonses are dismissed as a result of drafting errors or as a result of information about a case not being included on the face of the summons.

A spokesman for the City’s Law Department, Nicholas Paolucci, explained that in many cases summonses have been dismissed because “all of the legally required facts were not recorded on the face of the summons.”

Judge Sweet, however, has rejected that contention, finding that the “overwhelming majority” of summonses were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

That was the case with Stinson, who was charged in one summons with entering and remaining in a building without the permission or authority of its owner. Stinson, however, had his aunt’s permission to be in the building, and he visited her there every week, he said. A second summons accused Stinson of disorderly conduct, but did not describe any “obscene language or gestures” that caused public alarm.

Addressing summonses like the pair issued to Stinson in 2010, Judge Sweet wrote that “the failure to provide requisite facts establishing the elements of a crime necessarily means that no probable cause existed to summons a person for any offense.”

The Times reports that the case may go to trial in early 2016.

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 needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad 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.nytimes.com/2015/05/18/nyregion/class-action-lawsuit-blaming-police-quotas-takes-on-criminal-summonses.html?_r=0

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RNC_04_protest_49.jpg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC/videos

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

NHL player arrested after pool-party pat down uncovers his cocaine, Molly

Can a person be convicted of a crime even if he did not know what he was doing was a crime?

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?”

 

A twenty-two-year old Florida man brought a scene from Joel and Ethan Cohen’s 1998 feature film The Big Lebowski to life last week by accidentally smashing up a stranger’s car in a fit of misdirected rage.

Big Lebowski actors Charlotte Criminal Attorney Mecklenburg DWI LawyerWhile characters “The Dude” (also known as Jeffrey Lebowski) and “Walter Sobchak”—played by Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, respectively—manage to carry off their hijinks without apparent criminal liability, the same hijinks—carried out in real life by Ryan T. Smith—produced a charge of felony criminal mischief and a potential penalty of five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

During his movie-long quest to replace a rug upon which a henchman working for a local porn producer urinates in The Big Lebowski’s opening scenes, The Dude has his beat-up car stolen along with a briefcase containing what he believes is a million dollars. When the car is located, The Dude finds a crumpled-up school assignment belonging to a teenager named Larry Sellers.

Thinking the delinquent Sellers stole The Dude’s car, The Dude and Walter Sobchak travel to Sellers’ residence, where they attempt to interrogate him. The interrogation fails when Sellers refuses to say anything in response to The Dude’s and Sobchak’s questions.

In typical fashion, the quick-thinking (and yet slow-witted) Sobchak removes his sport coat and promises to teach Sellers a lesson. He then take a golf club and begins smashing up a Chevrolet Corvette parked in front of Sellers’ house—a Corvette that both The Dude and Sobchak assume Sellers bought using money stolen from The Dude’s briefcase.

Only after smashing up the Corvette does Sobchak realize that the vehicle actually belongs to Sellers’ neighbor. The distraught neighbor takes the golf club from Sobchak and proceeds to smash up The Dude’s car in retribution.

In a case of life imitating art, Ryan T. Smith made a similar error in judgment, attacking the wrong vehicle in a fit of rage, according to the Bradenton Herald. The unnamed target of Smith’s rage said the Floridian had a vendetta against him and feared Smith might attack him or his vehicle.

In a post on social-media site Facebook, the intended target of Smith’s attack said he was at home last Tuesday when he heard the sound of a car door shutting outside his residence. When he peered outside, the intended target said he saw Smith smashing up his neighbor’s car with a baseball bat. According to the Daily Mail, the intended target of Smith’s attack had a car that was the same make, model and color as his neighbor’s vehicle.

Officers said that Smith caused $1,600 damage to the neighbor’s car.

It is not the first time life has imitated art, at least in Lebowski-esque wrong-car smashups. In 2014, a thirty-three-year-old man from Loughsborough in the United Kingdom was jailed for fourteen months after attacking a VW Golf, “denting the bodywork… shattering the windows and lights.. and slashing the tires and upholstery,” according to the Leicester Mercury. Only after his arrest did the man realize he had attacked the wrong car. He later acknowledged that the car belonged to the wrong person and felt “deeply sorry for the damage he caused in respect of this particular owner.”

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 needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad 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.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3086356/Furious-friend-tries-trash-buddy-s-car-baseball-bat-argument-destroys-neighbor-s-vehicle-instead.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118715/

http://www.mix100lubbock.com/2015/05/15/a-man-attacks-a-guys-car-with-a-baseball-bat-it-was-the-wrong-car/

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Revenge-attack-wrong-car/story-20627412-detail/story.html

 

 

Image Credit

“Moore and Bridges Lebowskifest” by Joe Poletta (user “vidmon” on Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/vidmon/6053850132/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moore_and_Bridges_Lebowskifest.jpg#/media/File:Moore_and_Bridges_Lebowskifest.jpg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC/videos

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Criminal traffic rules shaped by justices who have had little contact with traffic, courts

Trooper says accident not bus driver’s fault, charges her with reckless driving anyway

Published on:

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers: A past conviction is keeping me from finding work what can I do?

 

The mother of a Pennsylvania third grader has learned, in an indirect way, the ages-old axiom that “good facts make bad law.”

Fingerprint scan Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney Mecklenburg DWI LawyerPennsylvania is home to Pennsylvania State University. The university’s football program—long considered one of the best—came under fire in recent years after a former assistant coach named Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing boys in locker room showers. Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison. Head coach Joe Paterno was stripped of his coaching position, contracted lung cancer and died.

Aside from the disastrous effects the Sandusky abuse scandal had on those involved, the incident damaged Penn State’s proud reputation and spurred lawmakers to pass new legislation to protect children from predators like Sandusky.

Burks County, Pennsylvania District Attorney David Heckler led the task force that drafted new child-protection legislation. Under the new law, a wide array of adults who interact with school children are subject to background checks, although no one—not even Heckler—knows exactly how far the law extends, given its broad language.

Sara Byala, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose daughter is a third grader at Wayne Elementary School, said she learned about the new law when she and her husband volunteered to attend a school fieldtrip this month. School officials told her that she and her husband would have to be fingerprinted and undergo criminal background checks in order to chaperone school children.

Byala called the new law “just one more piece of madness in the whole story of how we parent our children.”

The background-check requirements in the new law apply to school volunteers, parents, school officials, teachers, coaches, janitors and chaperones, and the checks must be updated every three years, according to Philly.com.

Heckler said Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law was the toughest—and therefore the best—in the United States. “It’s a pain in the neck and expensive and people don’t like it,” he acknowledged, but he added that the law was designed “for the protection of children, not the convenience of adults.”

Lee Ann Wenzel, the superintendent of the Ridley Area School District, said she was concerned both with the $47 per-background-check cost of the requirement and with how to properly implement the law. She said that, in theory, no parent would be allowed inside a school building, for any reason, without first undergoing fingerprinting and a criminal background check.

She noted, for instance, that state Sen. Tom McGarrigle visited and spoke to a government class at a school in the district. “He was walked up to the room by the building principal and was in the class with teachers,” Wenzel said. “Does that necessitate having a criminal-background check?”

If it had, Sen. McGarrigle’s visit might have been delayed. Some districts are struggling to process the flood of criminal-clearance applications. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the backlog is twenty-six days, even though the law says clearances must be completed within two weeks of an application.

Heckler said the law may need “tweaking,” hinting that it may be amended to provide for exceptions to the background-check requirements, in certain instances.

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 needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad 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.philly.com/2015-05-05/news/61804340_1_new-state-law-school-volunteers-child-protection-law

http://www.cbsnews.com/feature/the-penn-state-scandal/

http://www.senatormcgarrigle.com/

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fingerprint_Scan_-_Biometric_Data_Collection_-_Aadhaar_-_Kolkata_2015-03-18_3660.JPG

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC/videos

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New hacking legislation could make criminals of us all, say insiders

Proposed “smoking” ban just the latest assault on personal freedom

Published on:

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

 

While media reports of protests and rioting in Baltimore, Maryland and elsewhere have been inescapable in recent weeks for anyone who follows the news, the costs to taxpayers of violent encounters between police officers and the citizens they serve have been more elusive—tucked into files in state and federal courthouses or sealed behind nondisclosure agreements.

Handcuffs Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Mecklenburg DWI AttorneySix Baltimore police officers have been charged with a range of crimes in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died after part of his spinal cord became fractured while in police custody. While the circumstances of Gray’s death and the outcome of the criminal cases brought against the officers are unclear, the costs being borne by cities facing civil actions as a result of violent confrontations between officers and citizens are becoming clearer.

The Atlanta Black Star, citing the Baltimore Sun, reports that the City of Baltimore paid $5.7 million to settle police abuse cases since 2011. That pales in comparison to New York City, which paid an astounding $185 million to settle cases brought against the New York City Police Department in 2011 alone, according to the New York Post. The Arizona Republic has reported that law suits brought against the Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff’s office have cost taxpayers there some $44 million, causing local lawyers to consider Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s department “as an Automatic Teller Machine,” according to the Black Star.

Dr. Cassi Fields, a consultant cited by the Black Star who has trained and tested police officers in municipalities across the United States, said that she thinks municipalities are not getting the proverbial bang for their buck by allowing incidents to occur and then settling cases on the back end. She thinks cities and counties would save money by addressing problems on the front end, through better training and selection of officers.

“I believe we are seeing a selection and training problem,” Fields told the Black Star.

Cheryl Wattley, a law professor at the University of North Texas at Dallas, told the Black Star that she has litigated several excessive-force cases against municipalities, and detailed why litigation can become so expensive. Aside from having to show a pattern of abuse—something that requires extensive discovery—cases on average can take anywhere from two to four years to settle.

Civil lawsuits against municipalities are about more than money, however, Wattley said. While a financial penalty is significant in its own right, the evidence—or pattern of conduct or practices—that a lawsuit can uncover can cause police agencies “to address those problems and make structural changes.” In that sense, Wattley said, “Civil lawsuits can be much more effective than getting money awarded.”

Portland, Oregon-based attorney Kevin Sali said municipalities and police agencies can be eager in some cases to settle cases in order to deny a claimant the opportunity to successfully litigate a case in court. Successful in-court litigation against a municipality or law-enforcement agency may establish a legal precedent that will bring even more claimants out of the woodwork, something municipalities want to avoid at, evidently, significant cost.

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 needs the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (855) 370-2828   or find additional resources here.

 


About the Author

jbradley.jpgBrad 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:

https://atlantablackstar.com/2015/05/10/police-abuse-costs-taxpayers-big-money/

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Suspect_apprehension_training_DVIDS235380.jpg

 

 

See Our Related Video from our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ArnoldSmithPLLC/videos

 

 

See Our Related Blog Posts:

DOJ wants Alamance County Sheriff to respect the Constitutional rights of Latino drivers

Road rage, forgery convictions no obstacle to employment in Family and Children Services