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North Carolina Criminal Defense Law Blog

Drug crime allegations: How to choose a defense attorney

No matter the circumstances of your arrest, if you've been charged with drug-related crimes, you're probably feeling stressed, vulnerable and scared. These feelings are certainly expected, but it's important to calm yourself and think in a level-headed and logical fashion because you're about to make a very important decision: You need to select a suitable defense attorney to represent you in your criminal proceedings.

No doubt, you want to seek the most skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney you can find, but the selection of an attorney should never be as simple as this. Here are a few things remember when selecting your counselor-at-law:

Drunk driving charges after a fatal crash need a careful defense

A drunk driving conviction can result in serious criminal consequences. These consequences, however, will be compounded when the drunk driving conviction involves a fatal accident that a court deems to be caused by the driver's intoxication. An alleged drunk driving crash that recently resulted in the death of an Uber driver is an example of such an incident.

A 31-year-old male driver was operating his 2010 Ford Escape for Uber in Charlotte when an allegedly drunk driver in a 2006 Subaru fatally struck his car. Law enforcement officials claim that the driver who caused the crash was speeding while heading the wrong way down the road before he struck the Uber driver head-on. After further investigation at the crash site, police alleged that the 39-year-old man who caused the accident was intoxicated at the time.

Witness immunity plays a big role in Manafort case

The trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is finally underway, and it provides a fascinating window into how prosecutors approach high-stakes cases.

In the first of two federal trials (with the second slated for September in D.C.), Manafort faces multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. Prosecutors allege that he covered up millions of dollars of income and falsified documents to obtain millions in bank loans.

Much of their case hinges on witness testimony - much of which, in turn, hinges on immunity. Shortly before trial, five witnesses were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against Manafort. All worked for financial institutions with various links to Manafort. And the star witness - Manafort's former "second-hand man," Rick Gates - secured immunity last winter as part of a plea deal.

Will a drug crimes conviction interfere with federal student aid?

North Carolina university students who benefit from federal student aid need to be aware that a drug crimes conviction could have serious and negative implications for their ability to continue receiving this aid. In fact, any state or federal drug-related convictions for possession, selling or trafficking drugs will count against your eligibility for student aid -- but only if the alleged crime happens while the individual is receiving student aid.

Here's how this works in terms of timing: Imagine you're arrested for a drug crime in January while enrolled in a federal student aid program and enrolled in school. However, you weren't convicted until June when you were not in school or benefiting from aid. In this case, because you allegedly committed the crimes while enrolled and receiving benefits, the conviction will probably prevent you from receiving future benefits.

Intentional versus unintentional crimes

Sometimes North Carolina residents intentionally commit a crime -- perhaps by knowingly selling an illegal drug. Other times, they unintentionally commit a crime -- perhaps by accidentally walking away with someone else's cellphone or by breaking a law that they didn't know existed (or a law that they didn't fully understand). When a crime is committed by a defendant unintentionally, it's defined in two different ways by referring to it as either a "mistake in fact" or "mistake of law."

Mistake in fact

Could the federal government legalize marijuana soon?

There's no telling how soon the federal government could legalize marijuana, but certain U.S. senators are putting in significant effort in this direction. Recently, the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a new bill that would serve to decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the federal government's schedule of controlled substances.

The federal government currently views marijuana as a drug that's just as dangerous as heroin. Marijuana is classified as just as addictive and without any known medical purpose. Nevertheless, states across the nation have legalized marijuana both for recreational and medical uses. According to Senator Schumer, it's time for a change.

Supreme Court strikes down warrantless search of motorcycle in driveway

Privacy rights are at the heart of a free society. The Fourth Amendment provides valuable protection against unreasonable government intrusion. Police can't break down your door for no reason. They can't search your belongings without justification. They can't arrest you on a whim.

There are many gray areas when it comes to determining the scope of the Fourth Amendment's protections. And there are several exceptions to the general requirement that police secure a warrant before searching your person or property.

Zero tolerance drunk driving charges in North Carolina

When it comes to drunk driving, North Carolina is a zero tolerance state in multiple ways. In our state, zero tolerance drunk driving laws apply to the following three categories of drivers: commercial vehicle drivers, school bus drivers and motorists under the age of 21.

Here's what "zero tolerance" means for each of these categories:

This man is spending life in prison for a nonviolent LSD crime

Federal authorities caught a man named Robert James Riley mailing LSD to a friend in 1993. The friend who received the LSD testified against Riley and received a minor sentence for the offense. Riley, on the other hand, was sentenced to life in federal prison without parole.

Riley had been a fan of the Grateful Dead during the 1970s and 1980s. In order to follow his favorite band throughout the country, he paid his way by running a small drug sales business in the parking lots of the shows. During his decades-long musical adventure, the man was arrested and convicted on two separate occasions for selling small quantities of amphetamines and weed, leading to two short jail sentences.

What criminal defense “story” is appropriate for your case?

Every criminal defendant has the right to his or her day in court. In many cases, this right can be of enormous benefit to a defendant, regardless of whether the defendant will be found guilty of the crime or not. In some cases, a chance for the defendant to tell his or her version of the story – even if that version of the story involves an admission of guilt – can help the defendant in terms of the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

As a part of the criminal defense process, accused persons will usually need to tell their "story" of what took place. Here are three types of criminal defense stories that – depending on the circumstance – the defendant might choose:

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