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Archive for the ‘Felonies’ Category

Browsing Post with the Tag: Felonies

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

Heroin on the Rise

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Heroin is a highly physiologically addictive narcotic derivative of morphine but has a higher potency than morphine. C.R. Alder Wright – an English chemistry and physics researcher in London – was the first to synthesize heroin in 1847. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.” The name Heroin stems from Bayer, the German Pharmaceutical Company. Bayer named the first diamorphine product Heroin and made its first fortunes in the late 1890s when it commercialized heroin as cough, cold and pain remedy.

The medical use of heroin is prohibited in the United States, because its unwanted effects, i.e. miscarriages, heart infections, and death exceed its values. Heroin however is used illicitly for its euphoric effects and its use is on the rise nationwide.

In the eastern part of North Carolina, law enforcement officials report that the use of heroin, especially amongst high school students, has increased immensely as it has not been seen in decades. For example, while the Police Department of Wilmington, NC, had 12 people arrested for carrying heroin in 2003, the number was almost twenty times as high in 2013 with 214 arrests.

The surge of heroin use appears to be the unintended side effect of the crackdown on the abuse of prescription drugs. While the crackdown on the prescription drug abuse resulted in a decrease of the illegal use of prescription drugs, it also caused some medications to become less available and thereby less affordable. Instead, many turned to a less pricy solution to get euphorically high – heroin.

Even though the use of heroin is at a historic high, experts predict that it has not yet reached the top as addicts are still to some degree able to obtain prescription drugs.

As heroin use may become more prominent in the nearer future, more people may get into a situation in which they may witness a drug related overdose that requires medical assistance. In such situations, limited immunity is extended to those, who seek medical assistance pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-96.2.

As a heroin user, one does not only face medical and economic, but also legal consequences. Heroin is a Schedule II Controlled Substance pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-90 (1) and its possession is punishable as a Class I felony pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-95(a)(3). The sale of heroin is punishable as a Class G felony and the delivery or manufacture is punishable as a Class H felony pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-95(a)(1).

If convicted of any of those charges, possible consequences are:

– Fines

– Jail or prison time

– Drug treatment/counseling

– Probation

– Difficult bread-winning

– Social stigma

– Permanent criminal record

If you or somebody you know are investigated or have been arrested or charged with a drug crime, you should seek legal counsel to examine all evidence and advise you as to whether accepting a plea deal or going to trial would be in your best interest.

If accepting a plea deal, participation in the Drug Treatment Court (hereinafter DTC) may be considered which is an intensive, highly structured program designed to identify and treat offenders whose criminal activities are generally related to substance abuse offered in 23 counties in North Carolina. Amongst those 23 counties are New Hanover and Brunswick County. In order to qualify for the participation in the DTC, the offender must:

  • be addicted to a chemical substance,
  • be willing to volunteer for the drug treatment court program, and
  • be eligible under the state’s structured sentencing system for a community or intermediate punishment as an alternative to active prison time.

The mission of the DTC is to break the cycle of drug addiction by offering the tools to stay clean. Amongst others, those tools include counseling, housing, school, and employment assistance.

At Collins Law Firm we handle drug charges in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County, and we have successfully defended clients against all types of drug crimes. The experienced team at Collins Law Firm is here for you – just a phone call away at 910-793-9000910-793-9000 .

By Jana H. Collins, Office Manager

Restoration of Firearms Rights

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Recently, the North Carolina Legislature enacted S.L. 2011-2 (H 18), which clarifies the effective date of the law authorizing restoration of firearms rights under certain circumstances.   This bill amends the effective date of S.L. 2010-108 (H 126), (codified as  § 14-415.4. Restoration of firearms rights), which allows people convicted of nonviolent felonies to apply for restoration of the right to possess firearms and creates an exception from firearms restrictions for white collar felony convictions.  The 2010 act contained a standard effective-date clause used in criminal law legislation—that is, that the act applied to offenses committed on or after a particular date, in this instance February 1, 2011.  This wording created some question whether the restoration procedure and exception applied to a person who committed an offense before that date.  The 2011 amendment clarifies that the restoration procedure and exception takes effect February 1, 2011.  Thus, whether the offense date is before or after February 11, a person is eligible for restoration of firearm rights if he or she was convicted of a nonviolent felony as defined in G.S. 14-415.4, completed his or her sentence at least twenty years ago, and otherwise meets the requirements for restoration.  The act is effective March 5, 2011.
The text of the Act, specifying the criteria under which the rights may be restored, is:  Article 54A.  The Felony Firearms Act;  § 14-415.4.   Restoration of firearms rights:
(a) Definitions. – The following definitions apply in this section: (1) Firearms rights. – The legal right in this State of a person to purchase, own, possess, or have in the person’s custody, care, or control any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction as those terms are defined in G.S. 14-415.1 and G.S. 14-288.8(c).  The term does not include any weapon defined in G.S. 14-409(a). (2) Nonviolent felony. – The term nonviolent felony does not include any felony that is a Class A, Class B1, or Class B2 felony.  Also, the term nonviolent felony does not include any Class C through Class I felony that is one of the following:  a.  An offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense.  b.  An offense that includes the possession or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon as an essential or nonessential element of the offense, or the offender was in possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the offense.  c.  An offense for which the offender was armed with or used a firearm or other deadly weapon.  d.  An offense for which the offender must register under Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes.  (b) Purpose. – It is the purpose of this section to establish a procedure that allows a North Carolina resident who was convicted of a single nonviolent felony and whose citizenship rights have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes to petition the court to remove the petitioner’s dis-entitlement under G.S. 14-415.1 and to restore the person’s firearms rights in this State.  If the single nonviolent felony conviction was an out-of-state conviction or a federal conviction, then the North Carolina resident shall show proof of the restoration of his or her civil rights and the right to possess a firearm in the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred.  Restoration of a person’s firearms rights under this section means that the person may purchase, own, possess, or have in the person’s custody, care, or control any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction as those terms are defined in G.S. 14-415.1 and G.S. 14-288.8(c) without being in violation of G.S. 14-415.1, if otherwise qualified.  (c) Petition for Restoration of Firearms Rights.  – A person who was convicted of a nonviolent felony in North Carolina but whose civil rights have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes for a period of at least 20 years may petition the district court in the district where the person resides to restore the person’s firearms rights pursuant to this section.  A person who was convicted of a nonviolent felony in a jurisdiction other than North Carolina may petition the district court in the district where the person resides to restore the person’s firearms rights pursuant to this section only if the person’s civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm, have been restored, pursuant to the law of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred, for a period of at least 20 years.  The court may restore a petitioner’s firearms rights after a hearing in court if the court determines that the petitioner meets the criteria set out in this section and is not otherwise disqualified to have that right restored.
(d) Criteria.  – The court may grant a petition to restore a person’s firearms rights under this section if the petitioner satisfies all of the following criteria and is not otherwise disqualified to have that right restored:  (1) The petitioner is a resident of North Carolina and has been a resident of the State for one year or longer immediately preceding the filing of the petition.  (2) The petitioner has only one felony conviction and that conviction is for a nonviolent felony.  For purposes of this subdivision, multiple felony convictions arising out of the same event and consolidated for sentencing shall count as one felony only.  (3) The petitioner’s rights of citizenship have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes or, if the conviction was in a jurisdiction other than North Carolina, have been restored, pursuant to the laws of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred, for a period of at least 20 years before the date of the filing of the petition.  (4) The petitioner has not been convicted under the laws of the United States, the laws of this State, or the laws of any other state of any misdemeanor as described in subdivision (6) of subsection (e) of this section since the conviction of the nonviolent felony.  (5) The petitioner submits his or her fingerprints to the sheriff of the county in which the petitioner resides for a criminal background check pursuant to G.S. 114-19.28.  (6) The petitioner is not disqualified under subsection (e) of this section.
If you live in Southeastern North Carolina (Brunswick, New Hanover, or Pender Counties) and think you qualify for restoration of your right to bear firearms and are interested in having your rights restored, call Collins Law Firm for a consultation at:   910-793-9000.

New Law Permitting Collection of DNA Takes Effect Today – February 1, 2011 in North Carolina

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

A new North Carolina law, N.C.G.S. § 15A-266.3A entitled “The DNA Database Act of 2010” takes effect today, Tuesday, February 1, 2011.

The law permits law enforcement officers to take swabs to collect a person’s DNA when a defendant is arrested, and before they are convicted, for certain crimes, including both felonies and misdemeanors. Examples include such offenses as first degree murder, second degree murder, some sexual offenses, manslaughter, assaults, kidnapping, stalking, and burglaries. The law has provisions for removal of a defendant’s DNA from the database if the person is acquitted of the charges which qualify the defendant’s DNA from being taken under the new law. At least 20 other states have similar laws on the books, including Virginia.

While the new law will most certainly help solve crimes, and especially cold crimes because of the increased collection of DNA samples, some find the new law controversial because it allows for the collection of DNA before the defendants are convicted. The new laws allowing DNA collection without convictions implicate Fourth Amendment issues for the criminal justice system. Good discussions about these issues can be found in the UNC School of Government Blog on Criminal Law and in bulletins by the National Institute of Justice.

What is a Prayer for Judgment Continued (or PJC)?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

What is a Prayer for Judgment Continued?A possible disposition for a criminal or traffic charge (either an infraction, misdemeanor, or a felony) unique to North Carolina state courts, is a Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC.  When requesting a court to grant a request for a PJC, the proper way attorneys ask is to request that the “judgment be continued,” or to request that the court “continue judgment.”  While a PJC is an excellent result in many cases, it may not be the best result for all criminal or traffic cases.

Our experience has been that the effect of a PJC is highly misunderstood by most people, including lawyers or other legal professionals not experienced in traffic or criminal law.

The effect of a PJC for traffic violations is controlled by statutes and varies with the context in which it is considered.  A PJC may or may not avoid points, and the rules are different with respect to driver’s license points (or DMV points) or insurance points.   We have posted an article explaining more details about what a PJC is and how it may affect one’s record on our site, and a brief summary of how a PJC may affect insurance and DMV points for traffic violations.

Any time you are considering requesting a PJC, you should always consult with an experienced criminal or traffic lawyer.  If you have a pending court date for a criminal matter or traffic violation, call Attorney David Collins at Collins Law Firm for a consultation at 910-793-9000.

At Collins Law Firm, we have been practicing criminal and traffic law in Southeastern North Carolina for over a decade and David Collins has been licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina since 1993.  The counties we cover for criminal and traffic matters include (County/Seat of Court): Brunswick County/Bolivia, NC; New Hanover County/Wilmington, NC; Pender County/Burgaw, NC; Columbus County/Whiteville, NC; Bladen County/Elizabethtown, NC; Sampson County/Clinton, NC; Duplin County/Kenansville, NC; and Onslow County/Jacksonville, NC.

Felony Charges Disposed Most Rapidly in the 5th Judicial District (New Hanover and Pender Counties)

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

New Hanover County CourthouseThe Wilmington Star recently ran a story about a report published by the Administrative Office of the Courts which shows that felony criminal charges, on average, have been resolved in the shortest amount of time amongst all of the 43 prosecutorial districts in North Carolina. The statewide median number of days for the resolution of felony cases was 181 days, within the 5th prosecutorial district, the median number days was 106. The district attorney’s office attributed the efficiency to the felony district court program run by Assistant District Attorney Holt Trotman. The program is informally known in the court house as felony Thursday, because the court is held on Thursdays.

The only dispositions which are possible are guilty pleas or dismissals. If cases are not resolved in district court, they are then sent to the Grand Jury for indictment and resolved in Superior Court. If a defendant is charged with a low level felony and has a clean criminal history, it is often possible to have those charges reduced to misdemeanors. In some cases deferred prosecutions can be arranged which would result ultimately in the dismissal of the case. In many cases, charges which were originally felonies which are dismissed through a deferred prosecution or outright dismissed, can be expunged and completely removed from one’s public criminal record, if the defendant has not had an expungement before. Criminal charges which were dismissed but for which there was not an expunction will remain on one’s criminal record. However the record will show that the charges were dismissed. Attorney David Collins of Collins Law Firm regularly appears in the felony district court program for New Hanover County which is located in Wilmington, NC. If you wish to call us for a consultation regarding any legal matters for which you need legal representation, feel free to call us at (910) 793-9000.

Drug and Alcohol Violations on the UNCW Campus

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The UNCW newspaper, theseahawk.org, recently reported that alcohol violations were up 50% and drug violations were up 23% over the previous year. Students should be aware that if they are convicted of an alcohol or drug offense such as possession of marijuana, underage drinking or possession of an open container, a criminal conviction could remain on their record for the rest of their life. However, there are ways to avoid a conviction and Collins Law Firm has avoided convictions in hundreds if not thousands of cases involving controlled substances or alcohol.

The article also reported that burglaries are down 47% from the previous year which is good news.

Collins Law Firm is located only one mile from the UNCW campus and offers student discounts so UNCW students should feel free to call (910) 793-9000 for a consultation regarding legal matters we handle.