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Winston-Salem Criminal Defense Blog

Traffic tickets can push poor drivers into poverty trap

While most North Carolina drivers dislike getting traffic tickets, individuals with low incomes are more likely to struggle with the financial burdens associated with such citations, according to a study that was conducted by an economics researcher from Princeton University. The researcher cross-referenced Florida traffic citations with individual credit report and payroll data between the years of 2011 and 2015. During that period of time, approximately 4.5 million Florida drivers were issued traffic citations, which accounted for almost one-third of the state's population of licensed drivers. Of those ticket recipients, 3.7 million were matched with anonymized credit report information.

The study found that the average Florida ticket costs around $175. In addition, each ticket is linked to an insurance premium increase of around $120. These costs were easily absorbed by drivers living in high-income areas, but drivers from poorer areas didn't fare as well. The researcher discovered that lower-income drivers experienced an increase in unpaid bills, late payments and other financial difficulties after receiving a traffic citation, which caused some of them to fall into a poverty trap.

Death during a felony crime can bring felony murder charges

The laws regarding murder in North Carolina are by and large clear. However, people are often surprised to learn about the charge of felony murder through accomplice liability. A felony murder charge can be brought against someone who is involved in the commission of a felony that results in another person's death. This applies even if murder was not the intent or if the person charged did not directly kill someone.

Accomplice liability came in play during the case of an Alabama man who was charged with felony murder due to his role in a burglary. During the commission of the burglary, police shot and killed one of the man's accomplices. The court's guilty verdict in April 2018 stemmed from the theory that everyone involved in the burglary was guilty of the homicide because their actions led to the incident occurring in the first place.

Facing heroin-related charges? Understand your case.

While you may have reason to have some controlled substances in your possession legally, such as having a prescription for a narcotic, federal and state laws make it illegal to possess other substances at all. If police suspect that you unlawfully have a drug in your possession or that you have the intention of distributing it, you could face a serious legal predicament.

In particular, heroin is a substance that has strict laws surrounding it. In addition to the preventative laws, a violation of the law could result in severe punishment depending on the circumstances. If North Carolina authorities have charged you with a heroin-related crime, you may benefit from understanding the potential consequences if a conviction takes place and understanding other information applicable to this type of scenario.

Man charged with drug possession in North Carolina

A 37-year-old Gilford man was detained Dec. 23, 2018, on several drug charges after police discovered drugs in the rental vehicle he was driving. He was stopped for a routine traffic violation when a drug dog that was accompanying the officer alerted the police to possible drugs after an "open-air search" of the vehicle. Police then conducted a full search of the car.

The search resulted in the discovery of 21 grams of methamphetamine, 18 grams of fentanyl powder, bags with alleged methamphetamine residue, methamphetamine pipes and $1,800 in cash. The drugs are estimated to have a street value of over $12,000. Police seized the cash and had the rental vehicle impounded. The man was charged with felony drug trafficking of a Schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine with an intent to sell.

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for dealing meth

On Dec. 18, a North Carolina man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for dealing methamphetamine. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the 25-year-old defendant was arrested in April after police received a report of the smell of marijuana coming from a room at a Comfort Inn on the 1200 block of Burkemont Avenue in Morganton. Officers from the Morganton Department of Public Safety searched the room and found 2 kilograms of methamphetamine, five firearms, ammunition, body armor and more than $18,800 in cash. The defendant was arrested and eventually convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Capital offenses in North Carolina

In North Carolina, certain serious felonies are punishable by capital punishment. Capital punishment under state law is completed by lethal injection. The death penalty has been used in the state since colonial times. Today, it is only used in cases in which another person's death is caused.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2009 that capital punishment should only be used in cases that result in the death of the victim. This means that it is primarily reserved for serious murder cases. Under North Carolina law, people who are ruled to be insane or who are deemed to be mentally incapacitated are not eligible for the death penalty. The state sets the minimum age for death-penalty eligibility at 17.

North Carolina couple accused of manufacturing meth

Authorities in North Carolina say that a 50-year-old man and 38-year-old woman who were both on probation for drug offenses manufactured methamphetamine in their home. The couple was living in the basement of a relative's home in Cleveland County according to media reports. They have both been charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or manufacture and are being held on $100,000 bonds at the Cleveland County Detention Center.

The alleged methamphetamine lab was discovered on Polkville Road during a search conducted by probation officers and Cleveland County Sheriff's Office deputies. Reports describe the drug-manufacturing operation as a one-pot meth lab. Police say that this kind of operation is not designed to supply a major drug ring and is only capable of producing enough narcotics to meet the personal needs of one or two people. Reports indicate that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene on Nov. 16 to remove all drugs, drug-making equipment and dangerous chemicals from the basement.

Challenging forensic evidence against you

For centuries, fingerprints have been a form of identification because of their supposedly unique marks. Parents may register fingerprints of their children in case they become lost, and more modern technology uses fingerprints as a method of securing personal information. Of course, fingerprints have long been part of criminal investigations.

If police recently arrested you for a serious crime, they may have told you that your fingerprints were at the scene, perhaps even on the weapon they believe you used to commit the crime. While you may feel you have little chance of refuting forensic evidence, especially fingerprints, modern courts are not so quick to blindly accept forensics as science.

North Carolina woman accused of lacing coffee with meth

A 41-year-old North Carolina woman lost her job and was taken into police custody after allegedly lacing a co-worker's coffee with methamphetamine. The woman faces felony counts of drug possession and contaminating food and drink. Reports indicate that she has been released from the Catawba County jail, strongly asserts her innocence and plans to mount a vigorous defense.

Officers from the Town of Hudson Police Department became involved when a man who had checked himself into a local hospital tested positive for methamphetamine and told his doctors that he believed he had been poisoned. Police say that they identified the woman as their primary suspect after watching video footage recorded at the man's place of employment. The footage, which police say will not be released while their investigation is ongoing, is said to show the woman putting a substance believed to be methamphetamine into a coffee cup. Media accounts suggest that the man and woman were embroiled in a long-running workplace dispute.

Study shows public support for lower DWI limits

Drunk driving crashes in the U.S. claim 29 lives every day and cost the economy about $44 billion each year. Motorists with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher are considered impaired in North Carolina and the other states, but this figure is far too high according to the National Transportation Safety Board and a growing number of advocacy groups. The NTSB has long called for the drunk driving threshold to be reduced to .05 percent to bring it more into line with the laws of other developed nations, but Utah is the only state that has actually taken this step.

The NTSB says that as many as 1,800 lives could be saved each year if all states followed Utah's example and lowered their drunk driving limit to .05 percent. A poll conducted by researchers at the Texas Medical Center shows that most Americans are in favor of stricter DWI laws and 46 percent would support legislation that would make driving after consuming any alcohol at all a criminal act.

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