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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for October, 2020

Halloween Weekend 2020

Friday, October 30th, 2020

As Halloween Weekend 2020 approaches, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s annual Booze It & Lose It Campaign is in full swing through early next week. The campaign partners with law enforcement across the State to not only enforce traffic laws by setting up sobriety checkpoints in all 100 counties, but to also raise awareness and educate the public on how dangerous it is to drive distracted or impaired.

Since October sets off the holiday season, it is considered one of the deadliest months of the year with respect to traffic accidents, according to the Highway Safety Program. As individuals head out to go to costume parties and trick or treating, there are higher chances for drunk driving and pedestrian accidents.

In addition, this weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time in North America, so we get an extra hour to party, eat candy, and watch Halloween movies, but do not forget to turn your clocks back an hour!

Also, as COVID restrictions continue to be enforced, some individuals may wonder how they can celebrate Halloween safely, and with minimal social contact with others who are not in their household. Some creative ideas could be to wear a Halloween face mask to pass out candy, or to make individual candy bags for trick or treaters to pick up on their own. Another idea could be to transform your front yard into a candy graveyard, leaving the candy around a path for kids to collect. There are also printable signs online that you can hang on your door to inform your neighbors that you are safely passing out candy this year.

We hope that everyone has a fun, but safe, Halloween weekend! However, if you find yourself in need of an attorney because you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident, or was charged with a traffic violation or crime in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, call Collins Law Firm at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation about how we can help you.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Easier Access to a Clean Record

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

In December 2017, the availability of the expunction (or expungement) process for convictions had been drastically improved by Senate Bill 445.  Now we are looking at yet more changes. On June 25, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 562, a.k.a. The Second Chance Act, which will ease previous requirements, allowing even more individuals with a criminal history to have a chance at clearing their record. While some changes become effective December 1, 2020, the most sweeping changes – the automatic expunction of dismissals or acquittals by operation of law – will not become effective until December 1, 2021.  Below are a few examples of the modifications to the expunction laws that will apply to offenses committed by individuals of at least 18 years of age:

In addition to felonies and misdemeanors, infractions will be eligible for expunction as long as the charges were dismissed or for which a finding of not guilty or not responsible was entered.  Also, it will no longer be required that the person had not previously been convicted of a felony to pursue an expunction for a dismissed or not guilty charge.

Felonies, misdemeanors, or infractions that were dismissed or for which a finding of not guilty or not responsible was entered on or after December 1, 2021, will be automatically expunged by operation of law, not requiring a petition.

Also, pursuant to The Second Chance Act, a person may file a petition for expunction of more than just one nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, but in that case will have to wait seven years rather than only five years in order to do so.

The team at Collins Law Firm has been handling scores of expunctions for over 20 years in New Hanover County, Pender County, and Brunswick County.  If you are interested in having your record expunged, please give our office a call at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation to discuss your eligibility.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Phase 3 Reopening in North Carolina

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

North Carolina will enter Phase 3 of easing COVID-19 restrictions, and this new phase will be effective at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 2, 2020, lasting until at least October 23, 2020.

Under Executive Order 169, Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, that bars will be able to open for limited outdoor capacity only, and movie theatres, amusement parks, and outdoor venues will also be able to open with 30% capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less. If a bar does not have a visible stated outdoor occupancy, no more than seven guests are allowed for every 1,000 square feet of the outdoor area’s square footage. The statewide 11:00 p.m. alcohol curfew will remain in place until at least October 23, 2020.

All outdoor stadiums that can seat more than 10,000 people will only be allowed to open to 7% capacity. The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Governor Cooper commented on the new phase of reopening, “I believe that North Carolina can do this safely. But so I am clear, every gathering carries the risk of spreading this disease. Being safe means being smart and making sure others around you are doing the same.”

State and public health officials will continue to keep an eye on COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to discuss if any additional restrictions can be lifted when Executive Order 169 expires October 23, 2020. 

As reopening accelerates, more people will be going to events and drinking with friends at bars, and the chances of getting in serious trouble, or being in an accident with serious injuries will increase significantly. We hope it will not become necessary, but if you or a loved one find yourself in need of an attorney for a serious personal injury, or you get into trouble with a criminal matter, or receive a traffic ticket in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick County, please give our office a call for a confidential consultation. We also handle wills and estates with our of counsel attorney, Mitch Baker. 

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal