Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I represent myself on a traffic ticket?”
A hit-and-run is a serious offense in North Carolina. Depending on how severe the victim’s injury is, the fleeing driver may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The at-fault motorist who fled the scene is more likely to be charged with a felony if the victim sustained life-threatening injuries or died as a result of the collision. In North Carolina, a felony may involve jail time for the offender.
Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Is there more than one way for police to charge a person with DWI?”
Typically, when you imagine a person using drugs or alcohol while driving you would expect that to lead rather quickly to a drunk driving charge. Though this is exactly the sort of situation that DUI/DWI crimes were meant to address, a recent incident in Atlanta highlights an odd facet of the system. According to law enforcement authorities, the fact that one driver was so far gone, clearly impaired and destructive, meant he actually managed to avoid a DUI charge. Now let’s explain why.
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Am I allowed to videotape an interaction with police? Can they make me stop filming?”
Whether you’re an avid catcher of Pikachus or are convinced the era of technology taking over is upon us, you’ve no doubt noticed Pokémon’s rather public reentrance into society lately. Advocates have lauded Pokémon Go’s ability to get gamers off the couch and moving…and get them moving it has. Some have walked straight into varying degrees of trouble with the law, including one man with an open warrant for his arrest who wandered by his local police station to battle his creatures there. Other reports have fallen more on the crime fighting side—two Go players helped catch a man wanted for attempted murder, and one woman found a dead body in her Pokémon Go meanderings.
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?”
At around 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of February 21, Natali Castellanos-Tyler, a 30-year-old married mother of two small children, was driving home from a birthday party in her 2002 Ford Explorer. Castellanos-Tyler’s three-year-old daughter, Elisa, was riding in a back passenger seat.
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.
In 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.
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.
The 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.”
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.
With 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.