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Archive for September, 2015

Now or Never – DWI Expunction

Friday, September 25th, 2015

NO EraserAs a prelude to this text, please keep in mind that we are referencing DWIs currently eligible for expunction (i.e., those convicted of a DWI that were released from supervision 15 or more years ago) under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5.

The window of opportunity for having your DWI conviction expunged is closing fast! Under S.L. 2015-150, DWIs will no longer be eligible for expunction in North Carolina as of December 1, 2015. Whether you plan to file a new petition or you have a petition pending, as of December 1st there will be no questions as to whether your request for DWI expungement will be granted or denied.

Interestingly enough, it will be exactly 3 years on December 1, 2015 since North Carolina passed a law permitting the expungement of DWIs, under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5—certainly not much time to have your DWI expunged!

We’ve mentioned in previous posts the severity of DWI consequences in North Carolina. If you or someone you know was released from DWI supervision 15 or more years ago, please call us at 910-793-9000 to discuss your expungement eligibility. Here at Collins Law Firm, time is of the essence! Call us today to schedule a consultation.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

A Non-violent Felon’s Right to Bear Firearms

Monday, September 21st, 2015

second-amendment21The North Carolina case Britt v. North Carolina serves as a breakthrough precedent for North Carolinians who lost their right to bear arms due to felony charges. In 1979, Barney Britt plead guilty to PWISD methaqualone (possession with intent to sell and deliver–a central nervous system depressant). He was sentenced to 4 months in prison and probation thereafter. At the end of his sentence in 1987, Mr. Britt’s rights as a North Carolina citizen were fully restored, including the right to bear arms. In 2004, N.C.G.S. §14-415.1 declared it unlawful for any felon to bear any type of firearm despite their reason. Britt sued the state arguing that this new law was unconstitutional. After several hearings and appeals, his case was taken to the Supreme Court where the jury ruled in Britt’s favor. Arguably, Britt served his sentence as a convicted nonviolent felon, and 30 years later had not committed any crime despite that he possessed firearms. Ultimately, Britt had “affirmatively demonstrated that he is not among the class of citizens who pose a threat to public peace and safety” and therefore, a regulation that prohibited him from possessing a firearm could not be “fairly related to the preservation of public peace and safety.”

A year after the Supreme Court ruled in Britt’s favor, North Carolina General Assembly enacted N.C.G.S. §14-415.4, allowing a person convicted of a nonviolent felon to bear firearms, as long as they are in compliance with the statute criteria (i.e., having served their sentence, convicted of only one felony—or multiple felonies arising from the same event, etc). The law took effect on February 1, 2011.

It will be interesting to see how North Carolina’s new law will be observed nationally. With such controversy over the right for even non-felon citizens to bear arms, it’s likely that many Americans will disagree with this statute. As we know, federal authorities and courts hold the final decision on federal law, but this new law may accomplish the General Assembly’s goal of restoring firearm rights to those convicted of a felony in other states – following the example of North Carolina – if not nationwide.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

14th 9/11 Anniversary

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

9-11As the eve of the 14th anniversary of the September 2011 terrorists’ attack approaches, many Americans find themselves feeling uneasy and vulnerable. Naturally we remember this day as a day of distress all throughout the nation—families destroyed to those who lost their lives and as a whole, and a country known as arguably the most powerful in the world at a frightful standstill.

On September 11, 2001, two planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York, another crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth hijacked plane (en route to the White House) crashed in Pennsylvania—resulting in the largest loss of life attack in America since Pearl Harbor.

Even after all of the bodies had been exhumed and things started to clear up in NY, the death toll was on the rise due to the subsequent deaths related to inhalation of fumes from that day, which in fact were all ruled as homicides. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people, including the 19 hijackers. The 2,977 victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in the World Trade Center/surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon.
Though conspiracies, theories, and myths about what actually happened on 9/11 are still prevalent through the news and other forms of media, it is important to remember that this day should serve as a day of togetherness and national pride for Americans—with liberty and justice for all.

Here in Wilmington, the Wilmington Fire Department holds a 9/11 Memorial at Wilmington’s Empie Park Fire Station. The memorial honors 7 Wilmington firefighters who have lost their lives in line of duty since the department began in the mid 1800’s, as well as the 343 NYC firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 fourteen years ago. The memorial is surrounded by 7 statues representing Wilmington’s fallen firefighters. A bronze statue of a firefighter in the center holds a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center following the attack on 9-11. The memorial is open 7 days a week to the public, where visitors and residents are encouraged to stop by.

Nonetheless, be aware of your surroundings and take extra caution as you bear in mind this unforgettable day.

By Amber L. Younce, Legal Assistant

2015 Labor Day Weekend

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Labor DayIt’s finally here, a three-day weekend! Although for most of us Labor Day weekend marks unofficial end to summer, it’s also a great time to catch up with family and friends at the beach and spend some quality family time before it starts to cool off.
If and as you travel, keep in mind that this is one of the most traffic heavy weekends all year. Officials say about 1 million Tar Heel state residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, 86% of those will be driving—but here we have good news! According to AAA Carolinas, the average gas price in North Carolina is now $2.22 per gallon. This time last year it was over a dollar more.

Although traveling this year will be more economical than last, the laws and consequences associated with the dreadful DUI/DWI have gotten nothing but worse. So, whether you’re traveling locally to relax at the beach or headed out of town, remember to drink responsibly and don’t drive!

Law enforcement officials said they are going to keep a close eye on you this Labor Day weekend to make sure everyone has a safe and fun holiday. NC State Highway Patrol said they have teamed up with the NC Wildlife Commission to crack down on impaired driving this weekend.

Their “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign which was kicked off on Thursday September 3rd and conclude at midnight on Monday, September 7th. Highway Patrol also launched their ‘Booze it & Lose It’ campaign on August 21. Sgt. Pope with the Highway Patrol said they have arrested 41 people for driving impaired in New Hanover and Brunswick counties throughout the last week and they plan to over-staff law enforcement this weekend.

North Carolina is well-known nationwide for having some of the most severe DUI/DWI consequences in the country.

Here at Collins Law Firm we wish you all a safe and fun Labor Day Weekend.

If you or someone you know is in need of representation for a traffic or DWI/DUI offense, please give Attorney David Collins a call. With over 20 years of experience, we are able to help you in most matters! Call us at 910-793-9000.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant