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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for June, 2024

Celebrating Safely: North Carolina’s Operation Firecracker

Thursday, June 27th, 2024

Operation Firecracker is aimed at promoting safety during the Fourth of July festivities, underscores the state’s commitment to ensuring that celebrations are both enjoyable and secure for everyone involved.

Operation Firecracker isn’t just a catchy name— it’s a comprehensive safety campaign launched annually by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP). Its primary goal is to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities during the busy Fourth of July travel period, often associated with increased alcohol consumption and the use of fireworks.

Since its inception, Operation Firecracker has employed various strategies to achieve its objectives, including heightened law enforcement presence, public awareness campaigns, and community engagement initiatives. These efforts are crucial in reminding residents and visitors alike to prioritize safety while celebrating.

During Operation Firecracker, law enforcement agencies across the state increase their presence on highways and local roads. This not only deters reckless behavior but also ensures swift responses to any emergencies.

Through targeted educational campaigns, the GHSP educates the public on the dangers of impaired driving and the illegal use of fireworks. Messages emphasize responsible behavior and the importance of designated drivers.

Local events and partnerships with community organizations play a pivotal role in spreading safety messages. These events often include demonstrations on safe fireworks handling and interactive activities for families.

Utilizing data from previous years, Operation Firecracker identifies high-risk areas and times, allowing for strategic deployment of resources where they are most needed.

Over the years, Operation Firecracker has demonstrated measurable success in improving holiday safety. By combining enforcement with education and community involvement, North Carolina has seen a reduction in traffic fatalities and injuries during the Fourth of July period.

As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it’s essential to remember the principles of Operation Firecracker. Whether you’re enjoying a backyard barbecue, watching fireworks displays, or traveling to visit loved ones, make safety a priority. Plan ahead, designate a sober driver if alcohol will be involved, and follow local regulations regarding fireworks.

By adhering to these guidelines, we not only protect ourselves and our families but also contribute to a safer community for everyone. Let’s ensure that this Fourth of July is remembered for joyous festivities rather than preventable accidents.

This year’s Operation Firecracker Booze it & Lose campaign began Monday, June 24, and continues through Sunday, July 7.

Collins law firm always advocates against drunk driving. If you consume alcohol, we encourage you to have a designated driver or to take a taxi or shared ride home. However, if you are charged with a DWI/DUI, underage drinking, or any other crime in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County (Bolivia, NC), or Pender County (Burgaw, NC) and need a lawyer or attorney to represent you, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

Exploring Juvenile Justice Reforms in North Carolina

Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

In recent legislative sessions, North Carolina has been at the forefront of discussions regarding juvenile justice reform. With a focus on improving outcomes for young people within the justice system, several key initiatives are being proposed to reshape how juvenile offenders are treated and rehabilitated.

One of the primary goals of these reforms is to reduce the number of juveniles who are tried as adults. Currently, North Carolina is one of several states where the age at which juveniles can be tried as adults starts as young as 16. Advocates for reform argue that treating younger offenders as adults can have detrimental effects on their future prospects and rehabilitation. Instead, the proposed changes aim to raise the age at which juveniles can be automatically charged as adults, offering them a better chance at rehabilitation and a productive future.

Another significant aspect of the proposed reforms is the emphasis on diversion programs and community-based alternatives to incarceration. These programs recognize that many juvenile offenders would benefit more from counseling, education, and community service rather than being placed in detention facilities. By diverting young people away from the traditional justice system, proponents believe that recidivism rates can be reduced, and communities can be made safer.

Furthermore, there is a push to improve conditions within juvenile detention facilities themselves. Reports of overcrowding, inadequate education, and limited mental health services have prompted calls for increased funding and oversight to ensure that these facilities provide a safe and supportive environment for young people who must be detained.

Critics of the proposed reforms argue that they may be too lenient on juvenile offenders, potentially leading to an increase in crime rates or failing to hold young people accountable for their actions. However, supporters counter that the current system often perpetuates cycles of incarceration without addressing the underlying issues that lead young people into trouble in the first place.

Before the “Raise the Age” reform, which took effect in December 2019, North Carolina was one of only two states in the United States that automatically prosecuted all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, regardless of the offense.  The “Raise the Age” reform refers to legislation that raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent offenses so that 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors and certain low-level felonies are now treated as juveniles in the court. This means they are diverted away from adult criminal court and instead handled within the juvenile justice system, which is generally geared towards rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Pursuant to North Carolina House Bill 834, 16- and 17-year-olds who “allegedly committed an offense that would be a Class F or G felony if committed by an adult, the court shall transfer jurisdiction over the juvenile to the superior court for trial as in the case of adults unless the prosecutor declines to prosecute in a superior court…”

House Bill 834 comes in response to complaints by members of the criminal justice system that dangerous 16 and 17-year-old offenders are being released back onto the streets.

House Bill 834 had received bipartisan support and passed the Senate in May, and the House in June of this year. However, Governor Cooper vetoed this bill on Friday, June 14, 2024.

Contributory Negligence – Understanding North Carolina’s Legal Landscape

Wednesday, June 12th, 2024

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that affects personal injury cases. Unlike many other states that have adopted a comparative negligence system, North Carolina follows the contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if a plaintiff is found to have contributed in any way, even minimally, to their own injury, they may be barred from recovering damages from the defendant.

The impact of contributory negligence in North Carolina cannot be overstated. In a state where a single action or inaction by the plaintiff can completely bar their recovery, plaintiffs face a daunting challenge in proving their case. For defendants, however, contributory negligence provides a potent defense, offering a clear path to avoid liability.

Over the years, North Carolina courts have grappled with cases involving contributory negligence, shaping the legal landscape and establishing precedents. Court decisions have emphasized the importance of clear evidence and thorough argumentation in establishing or refuting claims of contributory negligence. Moreover, these decisions underscore the need for skilled legal representation to navigate the complexities of such cases successfully.

While contributory negligence can present significant hurdles for plaintiffs, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. North Carolina courts recognize certain exceptions and mitigating factors that may allow plaintiffs to recover damages despite their contributory negligence. These include situations where the defendant had a greater degree of fault or where the plaintiff’s actions were foreseeable and reasonable given the circumstances.

Given the high stakes involved, legal strategies in cases of contributory negligence demand meticulous preparation and execution. Plaintiffs must gather compelling evidence to support their claims while anticipating and addressing potential arguments from the defense. Conversely, defendants must effectively demonstrate the plaintiff’s contributory negligence while minimizing their own liability.

Contributory negligence remains a cornerstone of North Carolina’s legal framework, shaping the dynamics of personal injury litigation in the state. Its impact reverberates throughout the legal community, influencing strategies, precedents, and outcomes. For plaintiffs, navigating the complexities of contributory negligence requires diligence, skill, and experienced legal representation. For defendants, it offers a potent defense against liability. As North Carolina continues to evolve, so too will the interpretation and application of contributory negligence, ensuring its enduring significance in the state’s legal landscape.

Collins Law Firm regularly represents victims of car wrecks and helps maximize monetary or money damage recoveries for our clients, while also minimizing the stress and uncertainty that is involved with these types of cases. We hope it is not necessary, but if you or someone you know and care about has been injured in a car wreck, please call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a free consultation.

A Historical Journey through North Carolina’s Expunction Laws

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024

The roots of expunction laws in North Carolina can be traced back to the early days of the state’s legal framework. Like many states, North Carolina recognized the need for mechanisms to address the consequences of criminal records on individuals seeking reintegration into society. Early expunction statutes primarily focused on juvenile offenders and minor offenses, reflecting a nascent understanding of the importance of rehabilitation over perpetual punishment.

The mid-20th century marked a significant turning point in North Carolina’s approach to expunction. Against the backdrop of broader social movements advocating for criminal justice reform and rehabilitation, the state began to expand the scope of its expunction laws. Reforms aimed to provide opportunities for individuals to expunge certain non-violent offenses from their records, acknowledging the potential for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

In recent decades, North Carolina witnessed landmark reforms that broadened access to expunction for individuals burdened by past mistakes. These reforms included provisions for the expunction of certain misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as measures to mitigate the collateral consequences of criminal records on employment, housing, and other aspects of life. Such reforms reflected a growing recognition of the need to address the systemic barriers faced by those with criminal histories.

While North Carolina has made significant strides in expanding access to expunction, challenges remain. Disparities in access to legal representation, lingering stigmas surrounding criminal records, and bureaucratic hurdles continue to impede the expunction process for many individuals. Addressing these challenges requires ongoing advocacy, collaboration, and a commitment to the principles of justice and fairness.

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.