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Browsing Post with the Tag: Criminal Defense

School Bus Safety – Operation Stop Arm

Monday, October 15th, 2018

In an attempt to ensure school bus safety, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is taking proactive steps by launching their annual week-long statewide Operation Stop Arm beginning today, October 15, 2018.   State Troopers will be aggressively enforcing stop arm violations and other traffic violations in and around school zones statewide through the end of school Friday, October 19, 2012.

Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol said:  “Every child should be afforded a safe means of travel as they attend their respective educational institution”, and that “While this operation is scheduled to conclude on Friday, our efforts will continue throughout the school year.”

As a reminder, we have listed what you are and are not allowed to do with respect to a stopped school bus:

  • Two-lane road – Everyone must stop
  • Four-lane road with no separation – Everyone must stop
  • Four-lane or more with a median or some physical barrier – Only traffic following the bus must stop
  • Center turn lane with less than four lanes – Everyone must stop
  • Center turn lane with at least four other lanes – Only traffic following the bus must stop

Pursuant to North Carolina State Law (N.C.G.S. §20-217), a driver must stop when a school bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, the driver of any other vehicle that approaches the school bus from any direction on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area shall bring that other vehicle to a full stop and shall remain stopped. The driver of the other vehicle shall not proceed to move, pass, or attempt to pass the school bus until after the mechanical stop signal has been withdrawn, the flashing red stoplights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move.

Consequences for motorists who fail to comply with school bus safety rules:

  • Minimum fine of $500 and a Class 1 misdemeanor if you pass a stopped school bus
  • Minimum fine of $1,250 and a Class I felony if you pass a stopped school bus and strike someone
  • Minimum fine of $2,500 and a Class H felony if someone is killed

While drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers, it is also very important for parents to talk to their children and instruct them to stop and look both ways when getting on or off of the school bus, just in case a driver does not stop for the stopped bus for any reason.

If you or somebody you know receives a citation for not complying with school bus safety rules or face any other kind of traffic or criminal charges in our area, Collins Law Firm can help.  We have handled thousands of traffic tickets for our clients, and we offer free phone consultations for most traffic or criminal matters. Please call us for a confidential consultation at: 910-793-9000.

By Jana Collins, Office Manager

Think Twice Before Using a Fake ID

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

fake-idYou may want to think twice before using a fake ID in New Hanover or Pender County from now on.  Starting October 1, you will face more penalties in court if you are caught using a fake ID.

District Attorney Ben David announced some changes to the underage drinking deferred prosecution program dealing with fake ID’s to try to make things a little bit more serious.  Today, the program includes a requirement where defendants have to go to New Hanover Regional Medical Center on a Friday night to be exposed to some of the trauma resulting from drinking and driving. They also are required to spend a couple of hours in DWI treatment court for educational purposes. In addition to these requirements, those who are charged with a fake ID offense after October 1st will have their license taken by the court for 60 days.

These changes are not only put in place to do things such as combat identity theft, but also to save lives.  Statistics show that other states that also enforce these types of programs have seen a 7% reduction in fatal accidents. When put into perspective, that is equal to saving one young person’s life per week.

Some people under the age of 21 pay nearly $200 to order a fake ID online and are giving away crucial information to their identity such as their social security and license number. Not only do these things put them at risk for identity theft themselves, but it is very dangerous. These ID’s have become extremely difficult to spot in the recent years, but bars, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. are starting to crack down and become better at detecting fake ID’s.

We encourage all high school and college students in New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, and surrounding counties to be safe and never purchase or use a fake ID. However, should you find yourself in trouble and need to hire a lawyer or know of someone who does, Collins Law Firm can help. Give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

 

By Kimberlin Murray, Legal Assistant

 

Back to School – School Bus Safety

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

School_Bus_Stop_Law_400This week, many North Carolina children said goodbye to their summer break and began the 2016-2017 school year.  For many students, this involves riding a school bus to and from school. There are thousands of school buses traveling North Carolina highways daily, which means that it is incredibly important for drivers to pay attention to the road and avoid distractions in order to keep everyone safe.

It is extremely important for drivers to be cautious, aware, and patient on the road, especially around crosswalks, schools, and buses at this time of the year.

Drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers, but it is also important for parents to inform their children to stop and look both ways when getting on or off of the school bus, just in case a driver does not stop for the stopped bus for any reason.

Everyone must stop if it is a:

  • Two-lane road (with or without turning lane)
  • Four-lane road with no separation
  • Center turn lane with less than 4 lanes

Only drivers following the school bus need to stop when there is a:

  • Center turn lane with at least four other lanes
  • Four lane road or more with a median or some sort of physical boundary

According to North Carolina State Law (N.C.G.S. 20-217), a driver must stop when a school bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, the driver of any other vehicle that approaches the school bus from any direction on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area shall bring that other vehicle to a full stop and shall remain stopped. The driver of the other vehicle shall not proceed to move, pass, or attempt to pass the school bus until after the mechanical stop signal has been withdrawn, the flashing red stoplights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move.

Consequences for motorists who fail to comply with school bus safety rules:

  • $500 penalty and five-point penalty to your driver’s license if you pass a stopped school bus
  • Minimum fine of $1,000 and a Class I felony if you pass a stopped school bus and strike someone
  • Fine of $2,500 and a Class H felony if someone is killed

If you or somebody you know receives a citation for not complying with school bus safety rules or face any other kind of traffic or criminal charges in our area, Collins Law Firm can help. Please give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Kimberlin Murray, Legal Assitant at Collins Law Firm

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

Youth Booze – Don’t Lose

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

underage-drinking-and-the-law-statistics_527ba2c7bacfcSummer is drawing to an end and college classes are set to resume in a few weeks. For many, the beginning of college is full of excitement, as students are no longer under the watchful eyes of their parents. Unfortunately, this lack of parental supervision tempts many into making decisions that they would not normally make. Often times, temptations such as underage drinking and/or using a fake ID cause bad situations for those caught breaking the law. When caught by law enforcement, reality sets in and can cause panic: How should you handle these charges? How will charges such as these affect my future? What will my parents or coach say? What is my next step?

Fortunately, Mr. Collins is here to help those facing charges related to underage drinking. As of last fall, New Hanover and Pender County implemented new policies for those charged with underage drinking. These policies are designed for first time offenders (those not previously convicted of drug or alcohol offenses) and aim to educate youth on the harmful consequences of underage drinking while avoiding permanent charges to their criminal record. Offenders should be prepared to face at least 12 months of unsupervised probation, observe DWI Treatment court, participate in the Youth Offender Course at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and the Street Safe Alcohol Education Program (reflection essay to follow), and to serve community service hours.

Attorney David Collins has over 20 years of experience in the legal field, and has represented many people charged with underage consumption or possession of alcohol, and those charged with crimes involving fake IDs. In most underage drinking cases, with clients with no prior criminal history and without egregious facts, Mr. Collins has been able to have the charges dismissed. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving underage consumption or possession of alcohol or a fake ID, call us at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By: Brittany Bryant, Legal Assistant

New Policy for Underage Drinkers in New Hanover and Pender Counties

Monday, January 12th, 2015

A new policy in the Fifth Prosecutorial District that affects youths charged with underage drinking has gone into effect as of late November of 2014. This new policy will reshape the requirements for those who enter into a deferred prosecution agreement for an underage drinking charge. The goal of this new program is to help young offenders by teaching them the risks and consequences of underage alcohol consumption as well as avoiding a permanent mark on their criminal record. This program will only be offered to first time offenders that have not previously been convicted of any drug or alcohol crimes.

The requirements include, but are not limited to, 12 months of unsupervised probation, observation of DWI Treatment Court, participation in the Youth Offender Course at New Hanover Regional Medical Center and the Street Safe Alcohol Education Program (followed with an reflection essay), and Community Service.

The eligible offenses for the new Underage Alcohol Deferred Prosecution Program are as follows:

Charge

OBT/ATT OBT ALC OTHERS ID

OBT/ATT OBT ALC FALSE ID

OBT/ATT OBT ALC OTHER DL

OBT/ATT OBT ALC FALSE DL

ALLOW USE OF ID/LIC TO BUY ALC

CONSUME ALC BY <19

CONSUME ALC BY 19/20

AID UNDERAGE PUR ALC BY < 21

AID UNDERAGE PUR ALC BY > 21

UNDERAGE AID/ABET POSS ALCOHOL

PUR/ATT MTBV/U-WN NOT 19/20

POSS MTBV/U-WN NOT 19/20

PUR/ATT F-WN/LQ/MXBV < 21

POSS F-WN/LQ/MXBV < 21

GIVE MTBV/U-WN TO <21

GIVE F-WN/LQ/MXBV TO <21

PUR MTBV/U-WN BY 19/20

ATT PUR MTBV/U-WN BY 19/20

POSS MTBV/U-WN BY 19/20

N.C.G.S.

18B-302(E)(4)

18B-302(E)(2)

18B-302(E)(3)

18B-302(E)(1)

18B-302(F)

18B-302(B)(3)

18B-302(B)(3)

18B-302(C)(1)

18B-302(C)(2)

18B-302(C)(1)

18B-302(B)(1)

18B-302(B)(1)

18B-302(B)(2)

18B-302(B)(2)

18B-302(A1)

18B-302(A1)

18B-302(B)(1)

18B-302(B)(1)

18B-302(B)(1)

If you or someone you know has received an underage drinking ticket, or any of the above listed charges in Southeastern North Carolina, then call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000.

By Rachel Reynolds,  Paralegal

Expunction of Record – Get a Second Chance

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Generally, the fact that one was charged with a crime remains on their record regardless of the disposition of the charge, unless the charge gets expunged. An expungement in North Carolina is the eradication of one’s criminal record by court order.  The effects of an expunction or expungement are outlined in N.C.G.S. § 15A-153 and include that upon expunction one may truthfully and without committing perjury or false statement deny or refuse to acknowledge that the criminal incident occurred.

Thanks to Hour Bill 1023 which went into effect on December 1, 2012, one can now even get a conviction expunged pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5 as long as the offense was a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor:

(a) For purposes of this section, the term “nonviolent misdemeanor” or “nonviolent felony” means any misdemeanor or felony except the following:

(1) A Class A through G felony or a Class A1 misdemeanor.

(2) An offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense.

(3) An offense requiring registration pursuant to Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes, whether or not the person is currently required to register.

(4) Any of the following sex-related or stalking offenses: G.S. 14-27.7A(b), 14-190.7, 14-190.8, 14-190.9, 14-202, 14-208.11A, 14-208.18, 14-277.3, 14-277.3A, 14-321.1.

(5) Any felony offense in Chapter 90 of the General Statutes where the offense involves methamphetamines, heroin, or possession with intent to sell or deliver or sell and deliver cocaine.

(6) An offense under G.S. 14-12.12(b), 14-12.13, or 14-12.14, or any offense for which punishment was determined pursuant to G.S. 14-3(c).

(7) An offense under G.S. 14-401.16.

(8) Any felony offense in which a commercial motor vehicle was used in the commission of the offense.

In order to qualify for an expunction under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5 one may not have other felony or misdemeanor convictions in any state and no previous expunction under this section or under any of the following sections:  N.C.G.S. §§ 15A-145, 15A-145.1, 15A-145.2, 15A-145.3, or 15A-145.4.  Further, a petition for expunction of record under this section shall not be filed earlier than 15 years after the date of the conviction or when any active sentence, period of probation, and post-release supervision has been served, whichever occurs later.  The costs for filing petition under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5 is $175.

If you feel you may be eligible to pursue an expungement in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, North Carolina, call Collins Law Firm for a consultation at (910) 793-9000.

By Jana Collins, Office Manager

Improper Equipment vs. PJC and more

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

A traffic ticket can cause a lot of headache.  It starts with embarrassment when the blue lights come up in your rear view mirror and when you have to sit on the side of the road while the officer investigates and issues your ticket and it continues far beyond.  If you receive a traffic ticket, you should consult with an attorney on how to best handle your ticket.

After consulting with an attorney you may come to the crossroads where you have to choose to have your speeding ticket reduced to an Improper Equipment or to request a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC).

An improper equipment is a non-moving violation that carries no points with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle (NC DMV) and no insurance points.

It is possible to be charged with Improper Equipment, if there is actually something wrong with your vehicle.  Upon proof of the underlying deficiency of your vehicle being repaired, most Improper Equipment charges result in a dismissal.

A plea of responsible to operation of a vehicle with improper equipment in violation of N.C.G.S. §20-123.2 does not mean that there was something wrong with your vehicle, the North Carolina legislature specifically addressed the issue of improper equipment plea negotiations by making it a lesser included offense for most speeding violations N.C.G.S. §20-141 (o).  Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-141 (o) (2) however, an Improper Equipment plea shall not apply to charges of speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.  Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §7A-304 (a) (4b) a defendant must pay an additional amount of $50 for all offenses arising under Chapter 20 of the General Statutes and resulting in a conviction of an improper equipment offense.

In some counties, such as New Hanover and Pender County, you are generally not allowed to get a Chapter 20 offense amended to an improper equipment more than once within a three year period without prior completion of a safe driving class.  If a defendant however already received an improper equipment plea and also already attended a safe driving class or if the defendant does not want to attend a safe driving class, then different options can be explored.  One of these options only applicable to speeding charges is a reduction of the speed, most commonly a reduction to less than ten over the posted speed limit. While a reduction to less than ten over the posted speed limit will appear on your driving record, it should not affect your North Carolina insurance premiums as long as the violation did not occur in a school zone or there is not another traffic moving violation within a three year period.

Another option of disposing of a traffic ticket pursuant to N.C.G.S. §15A-1381 (9) is a Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC – an entry of a plea of guilty or no contest pursuant to G.S. 15A-1011, without regard to the sentence imposed upon the plea. The PJC is unique to North Carolina Law.  If the PJC is granted, the offense is not entered against the defendant and no fines are assessed in addition to the court costs.  However, pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-141 (p) a driver charged with speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is not eligible for a PJC.  Also, defenders who hold an active Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or who were driving a commercial vehicle when they were charged, cannot receive a PJC without it effecting their driving record because NC DMV does not recognized a PJC in such instances and would record a conviction of the underlying charge instead.

Both the NC DMV and Insurance Companies have their own policies regarding PJCs. Currently, the NC DMV will recognize two PJCs per driver every 5 years. If you plead guilty and are granted a third PJC within that 5 year period, DMV will not recognize it and the underlying conviction will affect you just like any other guilty plea. Also, Insurance Companies will recognize only one PJC every 3 years per household – a second PJC per household may cause insurance points to be charged according to the underlying conviction.

We generally advise our clients to save their PJCs. However, each defense in traffic matters is unique and needs to be analyzed to determine what the best possible disposition would be.

If you or someone you know is received a traffic ticket in Southeastern North Carolina, then call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000.

By Jana H. Collins

NC – Watch Out For Your Pedestrians

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

While preferences vary when it comes to transportation, everyone is a pedestrian at some time, and most know to keep their distance from moving traffic. Unfortunately, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 69,000 pedestrians got hurt and 4,432 were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2011. This means that on average every two hours a pedestrian was killed and about every eight minutes, a pedestrian got hurt in traffic in 2011.

In North Carolina alone more than 2,400 pedestrians are hit by vehicles each year, about 160 out of this number are killed. This number represents about 12% of all traffic fatalities that occur on North Carolina roads.

While Pedestrians should not rely on their rights in traffic being observed by drivers, drivers need to be aware of pedestrians’ rights and the traffic laws protecting the weakest of our road users, and drivers need to pay attention especially to young children and older adults, because they are more likely to stray outside crosswalks and not pay attention to traffic signals or the traffic in general.

Pedestrians’ rights and duties are addressed in Chapter 20, Article 3, Part 11 of the North Carolina General Statutes (hereinafter N.C.G.S.).

N.C.G.S. § 20-172 Pedestrians subject to traffic-control signals.

(a) The Board of Transportation, with reference to State highways, and local authorities, with reference to highways under their jurisdiction, are hereby authorized to erect or install, at intersections or other appropriate places, special pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words or symbols “WALK” or “DON’T WALK” as a part of a system of traffic-control signals or devices.

(b) Whenever special pedestrian-control signals are in place, such signals shall indicate as follows:

(1) WALK. – Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

(2) DON’T WALK. – No pedestrian shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the “WALK” signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “DON’T WALK” signal is showing.

(c) Where a system of traffic-control signals or devices does not include special pedestrian-control signals, pedestrians shall be subject to the vehicular traffic-control signals or devices as they apply to pedestrian traffic.

(d) At places without traffic-control signals or devices, pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in Part 11 of this Article.

N.C.G.S. § 20-173 Pedestrians’ right-of-way at crosswalks

(a) Where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection, except as otherwise provided in Part 11 of this Article.

(b) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

(c) The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building entrance, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian, or person riding a bicycle, approaching on any sidewalk or walkway extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.

N.C.G.S. § 20-174 Crossing at other than crosswalks; walking along highway

(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

(d) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.

Failure to obey any these laws is an infraction pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-176 (a) and if convicted, punishable to pay a fine of up to one hundred dollars ($100) pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-176 (b).

If you or someone you know is charged with an infraction in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, and call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000910-793-9000 .

By Jana H. Collins, Office Manager

House Bill 637: Decriminalizing Marijuana

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The U.S. prison population is six to ten times as high as in most Western European nations and many say that this is because of the Unites States War on Drugs. More than 749,000 people were arrested in the United States for marijuana-related offenses alone in the year 2012.

However, while the use, sale, and possession of marijuana in the United States is still illegal, the federal government has declared that a state may pass a law to decriminalize cannabis for recreational use, as long as they have a regulation system in place. Many states have decriminalized the substance to certain degrees, other states have created exemptions specifically for medical marijuana, and some have done both. Colorado and Washington are two states that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis following the approval of state referendum in the 2012 elections.

In April 2013, North Carolina State Representative Kelly Alexander, who earlier in 2013 pushed unsuccessfully for medical marijuana, introduced a new bill: House Bill 637. Alexander has said that it would bring North Carolina in line with a number of other states; but marijuana decriminalization bills have not fared too well in North Carolina in the past.  House Bill 637 is a part of North Carolina’s Marijuana Policy Project and has passed its first reading and is now set to be heard by the state Judiciary Committee which will carry over from 2013 to 2014 when the legislature reconvenes.

Currently in North Carolina, the law is that it is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana (including small amounts for personal use). Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-95.) The penalties include:

•                         Up to one half of an ounce – a fine of up to $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

•                         Between one half ounce and one and a half ounces – a fine of up to $500, between one and 120 days in jail, or both. The judge may order probation or community service in addition to, or  in lieu of some or all of the jail time.

•                         One-and-a-half ounces or more – a fine of $500 or more, up to one year in jail, or both.

It will also be a criminal conviction on a person’s record.

Under House Bill 637, being charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would only be considered a civil infraction with a fine – no longer would a sentencing history nor a criminal record interfere with one’s forthcoming in life. This bill would also allow past offenders to be able to have their records expunged.

Many North Carolina residents are in favor of the proposed bill and hope that it will get passed. A Public Policy Poll taken in March, 2013 indicated that 56 percent of those surveyed in North Carolina think the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized.

For the sake of patients, North Carolina lawmakers should at least consider to study medical marijuana as suggested by another bill introduced by Republican Alexander on April 11, 2014 – bill H941 – A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT REQUIRING THE LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH COMMISSION TO STUDY ISSUES RELATED TO THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS.

At Collins Law Firm we handle marijuana related and other drug charges in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County, and we have successfully defended clients charged with all types of drug and alcohol offenses. The experienced and compassionate team at Collins Law Firm is here for you – just a phone call away at 910-793-9000.

By Rachel R. Reynolds, Paralegal at Collins Law Firm