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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for November, 2015

Safekeeping in NC Jails and Prisons

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

prisonSo often we hear about how overcrowded and dangerous United States jails are, and naturally, with that, safekeeping becomes more and more difficult for jail staff as the problem increases. How does jail staff maintain a safe environment for the inmates? Or even more interesting, what is staff to do when an individual inmate becomes unmanageable by behavior, illness, or vulnerability? The answer is pretty straightforward but the process is complicated. In this type of situation, jail staff submits a transfer request in hopes to have the inmate transferred from jail to the state prison, through what is known as a safekeeping order. Pursuant to G.S. 162-39, “the resident judge of the superior court or any judge holding superior court in the district or any district court judge may order the prisoner transferred to a fit and secure jail in some other county where the prisoner shall be held for such length of time as the judge may direct,” under the following circumstances (where the prisoner):

• Poses a serious escape risk;
• Exhibits uncontrollable, violently aggressive behavior;
• Needs to be protected from other inmates
• Is a woman, 18 years of age or younger, when the jail facility does not have adequate housing
• Is in custody at a time when a fire or other catastrophe causes the jail to cease operation
• Otherwise poses an imminent danger to the jail staff or other inmates.

If issued, the sheriff of the county (from which the prisoner be transported from jail to prison) is responsible for providing means of transportation, both to and from prison as applicable (i.e.—when the return date expires with respect to the judge’s order).

Confinement for safekeeping inmates is different than for the general population. For instance, they do not participate in work programs, they are not eligible for any type of sentence reduction, and they are held separately from the general inmate population. There are several types of facilities which house safekeepers in North Carolina, specific to age, medical needs, sex, and crime.

After an inmate has been transferred, the county from which the inmate was removed is responsible for paying the prison $40 per day, plus medical and some other health expenses. Just as jail staff can request than inmates be transferred to prison for safekeeping, inmates are permitted to submit the same type of request.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

Holiday Flotilla & NC Boating While Impaired

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

BWIThe Wrightsville Beach 32nd annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla is upon us! Many Wilmingtonians look forward to this water-based event every Thanksgiving weekend, as family and friends come together to eat, drink, and celebrate the holiday together. Whether you have a boat entered in the contest or will be watching from land, it may be beneficial for you to be up-to-date on North Carolina’s laws against Boating While Impaired, commonly referred to as “BUI” or “BWI”.

G.S. 75A-10(b1) forbids the operation of any vessel while on NC waters under the following circumstances: (1) while under the influence of an impairing substance; or (2) after having consumed sufficient alcohol that the person has, at any relevant time after the boating, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Additionally, G.S. 75A-10(b) bars a person from “manipulat[ing] any water skis, surfboard, nonmotorized vessel, or similar device on the waters of this State while under the influence of an impairing substance.” One charged in violation of either of these two statutes is subject to being convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

There are many similarities between the laws and consequences associated with DWIs and BWIs. One major difference, however, is that a BWI is not an implied consent offense – meaning, that while operating a vessel/surfboard/waterskii, you are not required by law to consent to a breathalyzer test as you are when suspected of drinking and driving. So what happens if your boat is pulled over and you are asked by an official to “blow” into the breathalyzer? In NC, this situation is more an analysis of the Fourth Amendment (prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures), rather than a statutory regulation. If one consents to a breathalyzer, obviously the need for a warrant is void. But keep in mind, refusing a breathalyzer may carry a double-edged sword in the likely event that upon refusal, the official becomes more suspicious and aggravated and thus proceeds to obtain a warrant. As decided by State v. Fletcher (2010), if an official suspects that one’s blood alcohol content may decrease while trying to obtain a search warrant, he or she is permitted to conduct a blood alcohol concentration test.
If convicted of a BWI, the consequences aren’t favorable. This charge isn’t one that you can simply pay off like a traffic ticket, but rather, a misdemeanor that will remain on the record for the rest of your life. Recreational boaters are subject to have their boater license suspended and face insurance increases, for both the boat and all automobiles on the policy.

It is best to treat operating a boat just as you would a vehicle – don’t drink and drive! Nonetheless, if you or someone you know is caught in a situation such as this or similar, call us today to schedule a consultation to speak with our knowledgeable and experienced attorney (910) 793-9000.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant