Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What should parents tell their children to do when interacting with police officers?”

A chair is thrown in a cafeteria. What is your first reaction to that? Silly high school antics? Assault? Is this a crime? The North Carolina Court of Appeals had to deal with this very question. A high school student under the age of 16 threw a chair in the cafeteria of his high school and ran out of the room. A school resource officer followed the chair throwing student out of the cafeteria, snuck up on him, and grabbed him by his shirt. After being confronted about the chair throwing incident, the student claimed that he was just goofing around with his brother when the chair was thrown. Initially, the student was caught off guard being apprehended by the school resource officer, but calmed down within minutes of being approached and taken to a conference room.

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

Being charged with a crime in North Carolina can be scary. Suddenly, you are facing serious penalties and even a prison sentence that could be devastating to your life. In criminal cases, most people think of a defendant being found “guilty” or “not guilty.” Not guilty is the ideal finding in a criminal case, but that is not always the result. When defendants hear a guilty verdict, they might think that their lives are ruined. In criminal cases in North Carolina, there are some options for a defendant, even after a finding of guilt.

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

A woman named Julie Cantu recently experienced one of the (many) negative aspects of today’s information age. While out on a first date, the man asked her several normal get-to-know-you questions, but then included an odd one about whether she had experienced any brushes with the law. Julie was perplexed about the question and when she got home Googled herself. She was horrified to discover that there, after her LinkedIn photo, was another, much less flattering one: her mugshot from years before when she was arrested for drunk driving.

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

We have discussed bail before. Specifically, we have discussed the ways in which the current bail system in place in many states is designed in such a way that disadvantages the poor and minority communities. The bail system allows those with money or access to money to avoid incarceration, while punishing those without financial resources by remaining behind bars. Many argue bail is even worse than simply inequitable, it reinforces and even exacerbates financial disparities in the criminal justice system. When a poor person is not able to make bail, he or she will then spend weeks or months behind bars awaiting trial. During this time he or she will likely become unemployed and create substantial hardship for the family left behind, making it even harder to reintegrate as a productive member of society.

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I talk to the police?”

We have discussed civil asset forfeiture before and how there is growing consensus around the country that the practice has many negatives and unfairly impacts those who are already among the most vulnerable. The system enriches local law enforcement departments, allowing them to seize the personal property of individuals who may never be charged with a criminal offense. Critics have long complained about the practice and those complaints seem to finally be catching the attention of lawmakers empowered to pass meaningful reforms.

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I talk to the police?”

We have discussed civil asset forfeiture many times before, usually noting the ways in which the practice is used to unfairly seize assets from often-innocent individuals, enriching law enforcement agencies at the expense of the public. Given how lucrative civil asset forfeiture can be for law enforcement agencies across the country, there is little incentive for states to take action to reform the broken system. Thankfully, legislators in one state appear to be ready for a change and are considering important revisions to the existing law.

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

Those who follow issues involving criminal law may know that the United States is an outlier among other countries in the world when it comes to punishment of juvenile offenders. For years the U.S. was among only a small number of countries in the world where individuals could be sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as minors. That changed about eight years ago, bringing the U.S. somewhat more in line with practices in other developed nations. Though the change was heralded as a good thing by many, a recent case that was granted cert by the Supreme Court highlights the dangerous loopholes that still exist in current criminal practice.

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

When we think of the law we often imagine rules that are set in stone. The law is meant to remain constant, allowing certainty over time and consistent treatment, two ways of ensuring that justice is meted out equally. Given the general presumption of consistency, a recent proposal under consideration in Florida has garnered attention. The plan will allow the state legislature to make new criminal laws retroactive, in certain cases. To learn more about what the plan would mean for residents of Florida, keep reading.

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

One of the many new changes going into effect on December 1, 2017, involves North Carolina’s private warrant system. The subject seldom gets much attention, but because of the important consequence it can have, deserves some explanation. To learn more about what private warrants are, how they operate in North Carolina, and what is set to change as of December 1st, keep reading.

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”

It can be hard to imagine anything worse than having a loved one pass away. The death of a child, a parent or a spouse can be crippling. It is not only emotionally draining, but can be financially taxing as well. You are forced to cope not only with great loss, but are then busy dealing with administrative issues and must also  figure out how to pay the often pricey bills associated with burial or cremation. For those in already tight financial circumstances, this can feel impossible.