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Recent Blog Posts

“Vapor” Tobacco Products: What are they and are they legal?

If you have been out in Greensboro recently, you have probably noticed several stores, new and old, selling a product labeled “vapors.” Thus questions have been raised by many as to what these vapors are and whether these are illegal. The short answer is that they are a new form of tobacco products and they … Read More

D.O.J. Announces Clemency Push For Those Serving Unfairly Long Federal Prison Sentences

In the past few days the Obama Administration has announced intentions to increase the availability of clemency to certain federal prisoners serving unfairly long sentences. Today, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced criteria under which federal prisoners will be considered for early release by the Department of Justice. The criteria are as follows: (1)  They … Read More

Improper Application of the “Career Offender Enhancement” Amounts to a “Fundamental Miscarriage of Justice”

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals announced Whiteside v. United States, a very important decision for people incarcerated and sentenced prior to 2011. If someone was sentenced as a “Career Offender” in Federal Court, he may be eligible to have that sentence reduced by the court. In 2011, the … Read More

SCOTUS Continues Its Removal of Constitutional Protections for the Criminally Accused

On Tuesday, the 25th of February, 2014, the United States Supreme Court released several written opinions. Among those written opinions were two of particular importance for the criminally accused, Fernandez v. California and Kaley v. United States. The two cases shared a common theme, the continued removal of protections for the criminally accused by the … Read More

Report: High Number Of Heavy Equipment Thefts In North Carolina

North Carolina is second only to Texas in terms of heavy-equipment theft, according to a published report. The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its 2012 Heavy Equipment Theft report on October 10, 2013. The top three most stolen items were mowers (5,363), loaders (1,943) and tractors (1,459). Texas was number one, with 1,401 thefts, and … Read More

Grand Jurors To Receive Longer Exemption Beginning January 1, 2014

In its most recent legislative term, the North Carolina General Assembly extended the exemption period for grand jurors. Under Session Law 2013-148, individuals who have “served a full term on the grand jury” shall be “exempt from jury service for a period of six years from the date on which they were discharged from their … Read More

Expunction Laws in NC Strengthened Effective December 1, 2013

Effective December 1, 2013, North Carolinians who have received an expunction (or are thinking about obtaining an expunction) will have stronger protection when searching for jobs. Session law 2013-53, ratified on May 8, 2013, creates a new statute – “N.C.G.S. § 15A-153. Effect of expunction; prohibited practices by employers, educational institutions, agencies of State and … Read More

New NC Criminal Laws Effective December 1, 2013

During the 2013 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bundle of new laws and changed numerous laws already on the books. Since “ignorance of the law is not an excuse” (despite the overwhelming amount of laws and their complexity,) the Clifford Division has summarized most* of the new criminal laws and changes … Read More

When Do The Police Not Need A Search Warrant?

The Fourth Amendment bans warrantless searches and seizures, unless an exception applies. In this instance, the exceptions may very well have swallowed the rule. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly wrestled with warrantless searches over the years. In some decisions, it seems as if the Fourth Amendment has almost been completely eviscerated. But, then … Read More

DWI Stops and the Use of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (“SFSTs”) are used in North Carolina to help determine whether a suspected driver is actually impaired. SFSTs, along with other preliminary factors, will be used to determine whether probable cause for impairment exists. Upon determination of probable cause for impairment, the officer should issue a preliminary breath test to determine whether … Read More