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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for February, 2024

Guns in North Carolina

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

In North Carolina one may legally carry openly a gun without a permit if they meet the following requirements: they are at least 18 years of age, and have no felony convictions.  The open carry rule is restricted in certain sensitive locations such as educational properties, correctional institutions, state or federal buildings, or private businesses or properties that have posted “No Weapons” signs.

However, if one wants to carry a concealed gun, one needs to obtain a concealed carry permit.  The requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit in North Carolina are as follows:

Age: Applicants must be at least 21 years old.

Residency: Applicants must be a resident of North Carolina for at least 30 days preceding the filing of the application.

Training: Completion of an approved handgun safety course within a specified time frame. The course typically covers firearm safety, marksmanship, and the laws regarding the permissible use of deadly force.

Criminal Background Check: Applicants are subject to a criminal background check by both state and federal agencies. Certain criminal convictions or pending charges may disqualify an individual from obtaining a permit.

Mental Health Records Check: Applicants must not have been adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill unless the adjudication or determination has been removed pursuant to law.

Good Moral Character: Applicants must be of good moral character. This typically means having no recent convictions for certain crimes, such as violent offenses or felonies.

Fingerprinting: Submission of fingerprints for a criminal history record check.

Application and Fee: Completion of the application form and payment of the required fee.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases: Legal Framework, Implications, and Trends

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

This blog explores the legal doctrines of contributory negligence and comparative negligence in the context of personal injury cases. Contributory negligence traditionally barred plaintiffs from recovering damages if they were found even slightly at fault for their injuries. In contrast, comparative negligence apportions damages based on each party’s degree of fault. The blog examines the evolution of these doctrines, their implications for plaintiffs and defendants, and the trends regarding their adoption in different states.

In the realm of personal injury law, questions of fault allocation are paramount. Two main doctrines have emerged to address this issue: contributory negligence and comparative negligence. While contributory negligence traditionally posed significant barriers to plaintiffs seeking compensation, comparative negligence offers a more nuanced approach to fault allocation. This blog delves into the intricacies of both doctrines, their historical development, contemporary application, and the states’ varying stances on their adoption.

Contributory negligence, rooted in common law principles, historically served as a harsh rule barring plaintiffs from recovery if they were found to have contributed to their injuries in any way. This doctrine, often criticized for its rigidity and potential for unjust outcomes, effectively shifted the entire burden of responsibility onto the plaintiff, regardless of the defendant’s negligence. Critics argued that contributory negligence failed to account for the proportional fault of each party and often led to inequitable results, particularly in cases where the plaintiff’s contribution to the injury was minor.

In response to the perceived injustices of contributory negligence, many jurisdictions began adopting comparative negligence systems. Comparative negligence allows for a more equitable distribution of fault by apportioning damages based on each party’s degree of negligence. Under this framework, plaintiffs may still recover damages even if they are partially at fault, with the damages reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. This approach aims to achieve a fairer allocation of responsibility and ensure that plaintiffs are not completely barred from recovery due to minor faults.

The adoption of comparative negligence varies significantly among states in the United States. Pure comparative negligence systems allow plaintiffs to recover damages regardless of their degree of fault, with damages reduced according to their level of responsibility. In contrast, modified comparative negligence systems bar recovery only if the plaintiff is found to be equally or more at fault than the defendant. States have implemented various thresholds for modified comparative negligence, with some jurisdictions adopting a 50% bar rule and others opting for a 51% bar rule.

Despite the widespread adoption of comparative negligence, very few states, such as North Carolina,  still adhere to contributory negligence principles. These states, often characterized by their adherence to traditional legal doctrines, maintain the strict rule that any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff completely bars recovery. Critics argue that this approach is antiquated and fails to account for the complexities of modern legal disputes.

The decision to adopt or retain contributory or comparative negligence often reflects broader legal philosophies within each state. States that prioritize individual responsibility and traditional legal principles may be more inclined to retain contributory negligence. On the other hand, states that prioritize fairness and equitable outcomes may opt for comparative negligence systems. Additionally, the legal and political climate, as well as historical precedent, play significant roles in shaping each state’s approach to fault allocation in personal injury cases.

If you or any of your friends or family members are injured in an accident, call us at Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a fee confidential consultation.

A Brief History of College Spring Break, and in Particular, the Southeastern North Carolina Beaches

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

College spring break has long been synonymous with freedom, fun, and adventure. However, alongside its evolution, this annual tradition has also come to be associated with risks such as injuries, alcohol-related incidents, sexual assaults, criminal charges, and traffic violations. This blog delves into the history of college spring break, tracing its origins and transformation over time, while examining the specific risks prevalent in the coastal regions of New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, with a particular focus on Masonboro Island and Wrightsville Beach, NC.

College spring break has its roots in the early 20th century, when academic institutions began adopting the concept of a recess period during the spring semester. Initially, it was a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, often involving family-oriented activities. However, by the mid-20th century, the emergence of popular culture, media, and tourism transformed spring break into a rite of passage for college students, characterized by beach parties, excessive drinking, and uninhibited behavior.

The Evolution of College Spring Break:

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the rise of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the quintessential spring break destination, attracting hordes of students seeking sun, sand, and a break from academic rigors. Over time, other coastal areas across the United States, including those in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, began capitalizing on the spring break phenomenon, offering vibrant nightlife, beachfront accommodations, and an array of recreational activities.

Risks Associated with College Spring Break:

a. Injuries: The combination of alcohol consumption, water activities, and reckless behavior often leads to a surge in injuries during spring break. From slip and fall accidents to water-related mishaps, the risk of injury is heightened during this period.

b. Alcohol and Substance Abuse: Spring break is notorious for excessive drinking and drug use, with many students engaging in binge drinking and experimentation. This behavior not only poses health risks but also contributes to impaired judgment and increased vulnerability to accidents and criminal activity.

c. Sexual Assaults: The party atmosphere and relaxed inhibitions prevalent during spring break create an environment conducive to sexual violence. Studies indicate a spike in sexual assaults and harassment cases during this time, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and prevention measures.

d. Criminal Charges: Instances of disorderly conduct, public intoxication, underage drinking, and drug offenses escalate during spring break, often resulting in arrests and criminal charges. Law enforcement agencies in coastal areas are tasked with managing crowds and maintaining public order amidst the influx of revelers.

e. Traffic Violations: The surge in vehicular traffic during spring break contributes to congestion, accidents, and traffic violations. Reckless driving, speeding, and driving under the influence pose significant risks to both motorists and pedestrians.

Masonboro Island and Wrightsville Beach, NC:

Masonboro Island at Wrightsville Beach, located in New Hanover County, have emerged as popular spring break destinations, renowned for their pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife. However, the influx of college students during spring break brings with it a host of challenges for local authorities and residents. Incidents of alcohol-related disturbances, beach littering, and environmental damage are common during this period, prompting concerted efforts to mitigate the impact of spring break activities on the ecosystem and community.

College spring break remains a celebrated tradition, offering students a much-needed respite from academic pressures. However, the allure of sun-soaked beaches and wild parties comes with inherent risks, ranging from injuries and alcohol abuse to criminal behavior and traffic violations. 

As coastal communities continue to grapple with the complexities of hosting spring break festivities, proactive measures aimed at promoting responsible behavior, enhancing safety protocols, and fostering community engagement are imperative to ensure a harmonious and enjoyable experience for all stakeholders involved.

Expunction Laws in North Carolina over the Years

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Over the last 25 years, there have been many changes to the expunction or expungement laws in North Carolina. Laws constantly change, and it is crucial to consult the latest legal resources, or seek advice from a legal professional, to get the most up-to-date information. The following is a general overview of how expunction laws have typically worked in North Carolina.

Expunction or expungement in North Carolina refers to the process of sealing or erasing a person’s criminal record under certain circumstances. The eligibility and criteria for expunction can vary based on the nature of the criminal charges, whether the person was convicted, and other factors.

Here is a general breakdown of how the laws regarding expunction in North Carolina have typically worked:

Expunction for Dismissed Charges:

1.            Expunction for Dismissed Charges: Individuals who have charges that were dismissed, acquitted, or where they were found not guilty are now eligible for expunction.

3.            In North Carolina, it used to be that an individual may generally only be eligible for a one-time expunction for dismissed charges.  However today, 2024, individuals can have an unlimited number of charges for which they were acquitted expunged.

Expunction for Convictions:

1.            Certain Nonviolent Misdemeanors: Some low-level misdemeanors may be eligible for expunction after a waiting period, provided the individual meets certain criteria.

2.            First-time Nonviolent Felony: For certain nonviolent felonies, individuals may be eligible for expunction if it is their first felony conviction, and they have completed their sentence and met other specified requirements.

3.            Age Restrictions: Some expunctions may have age restrictions, especially for offenses committed by individuals under a certain age.

Changes Over Time:

Laws regarding expunction can change through legislative actions. Changes might include adjustments to waiting periods, expanding eligibility criteria, or introducing new types of expunctions. Additionally, the legal landscape may be influenced by court decisions.

Consult a Legal Professional:

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on expunction laws in North Carolina, it is essential to consult legal professionals, such as attorneys specializing in criminal law or organizations that provide legal assistance.

Always be sure to check with the North Carolina General Assembly or legal databases for the latest statutes and amendments related to expunction laws in the state.

If you would like a confidential consultation about trying to get some charges expunged in Brunswick County, New Hanover County, or Pender County in North Carolina, in which the county seats are Bolivia, Wilmington, and Burgaw, call Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation and 910-793-9000.