Articles Posted in Local Legal News

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Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “My relationship is ending and they are threatening to call the police, how can I help myself?”

Cyberbullying has been in the news a lot in recent months and years, with experts finally catching on to the harm that can be caused to people, especially young people, by electronic harassment. Stories of children and teens suffering depression, anxiety and, in the most tragic cases, committing suicide due to online abuse have prompted state legislatures into action, with the vast majority passing laws against electronic forms of harassment.

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

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, has yet again put forward a plan that would require the state’s family court system (those responsible for handling juvenile crime) to raise its age of jurisdiction from 16 to 18. Sadly, many believe that the proposal to increase the age of criminal responsibility will fail yet again. If so, it will mean that New York and North Carolina continue to be the only two states in the country where offenders under the age of 18 can be tried as an adult and, if convicted, locked up in adult prisons.

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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?”

Several years ago an incident at the North Carolina State Fair grabbed headlines here and across the country after an amusement park ride malfunctioned, sending riders flying into the air and resulting in life-threatening injuries. It’s taken two and half years of investigating by law enforcement officials and prosecutors, but the incident has finally led to jail time, at least for one person.

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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.

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Charlotte DWI and Criminal Defense Attorney J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?

Police officers in North Carolina are on alert after a recent incident of vandalism left many unsettled. The graffiti wasn’t merely an eyesore, but instead advocated for members of the community to physically harm police officers. Now the local police chief is saying he thinks the behavior goes beyond simple vandalism and ought to be considered a hate crime. To find out more about the recent incident, including what qualifies as a hate crime under North Carolina law, keep reading.

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Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers : I was found not guilty of a charge, but my record still shows the charge

Two North Carolina teens have reached deals with prosecutors and are now able to move on with their lives, avoiding jail time and registration as sex offenders. Their cases illustrate the serious harm that can come from sexting as a minor. Their cases also reveal inconsistencies in North Carolina’s laws that may occasionally cause more harm than good.

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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?”

A North Carolina teenager faces felony sex crime charges after police discovered sexually explicit photographs of a sixteen-year-old girl on his cell phone. Cormega Copening is a seventeen-year-old high school student at Jack Britt High School. Copening was playing quarterback on the football team before being forced to sit out because of the felony investigation. The Fayetteville youth was arrested and charged with violating state law prohibiting the transfer of “sexually explicit” photographs of minors when police discovered nude photographs of Copening and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend on his phone. Police found the photographs by asking his mother, who pays the bill, if she would permit a search of the cell phone so the police might look for any possible evidence in a separate investigation of statutory rape. Copening was not a suspect in that investigation. During the search, the police discovered the nude photos of Copening and his then girlfriend.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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J. Bradley Smith of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”

 

The law is catching up with drones. If you plan to operate a drone in the state of North Carolina, you need to know about some new laws the North Carolina General Assembly passed this summer. The provisions regarding drones were included in “The Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2014,” also known as Senate Bill 744.

NASA Drone Charlotte Mecklenburg Criminal Lawyer North Carolina DWI AttorneyMost of the new laws regarding drones go into effect on October 1 of this year. The laws add to North Carolina’s criminal code to establish, in effect, a class of “drone crimes.” Drones are called “unmanned aircraft” in the law, and are defined as “aircraft operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” The act excludes model aircraft from the act.

It will become illegal on October 1 to use drones to conduct surveillance of a person, an occupied dwelling or private real property without consent. Private real property means land that is owned by private individuals or companies. “Occupied dwelling” refers to any houses or buildings that have people in them. The act prohibits photographing people using a drone without their consent if the purpose for taking the photograph is to publish it or publically disseminate it.

Law enforcement officers may use drones in ways the act prohibits. The act carves out exceptions for officers who are using drones to counter a “high risk of terrorist attack.” Officers can also conduct drone surveillance of areas within their plain view from places they have a legal right to be. They can use drones in connection with serving a search warrants. They can use drones when they have “reasonable suspicion of specified imminent circumstances,” and they can use them to photograph gatherings to which the general public is invited.

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

 

Smoking outside is not far enough to health officials in Mecklenburg County. They want smokers to quit their habit altogether on any government-owned grounds. They also want to ban chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes because, they say, they want to send a message to kids that smoking is not cool.

Smoking close up Charlotte Criminal Attorney North Carolina DWI LawyerThe legislature held public hearings five years ago as it debated a smoking ban in bars and restaurants in the state. The Tar Heel State, through its North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, considers smoking a health hazard. It also reports that secondhand smoke increases nonsmokers’ risks of developing lung cancer and heart disease, and can cause asthma in children or trigger asthma or heart attacks.

The Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law became effective on January 2, 2010. It requires enclosed areas of nearly all restaurants and bars in the state to be smoke free. Smoking is also banned in enclosed areas of hotels, motels and inns if food and drinks are served. Like many laws, The Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law does more than its title portends. It gives local governments the authority to place greater restrictions or prohibitions on smoking than are found in state law.

Local governments can restrict or prohibit smoking in “unenclosed areas owned, leased, or occupied by the local government,” in any passenger-carrying vehicles used by government, and in enclosed areas used by the public. Aside from a few narrow exceptions, the only places local governments cannot restrict or prohibit smoking are in people’s private cars and homes.

The effects The Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law are being felt, according to Cynthia Hallett, the Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. She said visits to North Carolina emergency rooms for heart attacks have dropped 21-percent since the law took effect. Thousands of people have avoided heart attacks because of the law, she said.

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