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Category Archives: Criminal Law

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Allow Felony Bench Trials in North Carolina

In the November election, North Carolina voters will once again be given an opportunity to amend the North Carolina Constitution. The amendment at issue is whether those charges with a Felony in North Carolina should have the option to waive a jury trial and instead have a trial by judge, also known as a “bench … Read More

Dog Sniff Searches Limited by North Carolina Court of Appeals

On July 1, 2014, the North Carolina Court of Appeals released its opinion in State v. Cottrell in which the court limited the use of police dog drug sniffs following traffic stops. In Cottrell, the defendant was observed driving without turning on his headlights. The law enforcement officer stopped him for this infraction as well … Read More

Criminal Law Update: Sex Offender Restrictions

The North Carolina General Assembly passed session law 2014-21 this week and amended the laws governing residential restrictions on Sex Offenders. Under this amendment of N.C.G.S. § 14-208.16(b), the term child care center was expanded to specifically include “Boys and Girls Clubs of America” organizations. Thus, registered sex offenders are now explicitly precluded from residing … Read More

Landmark 4th Amendment Case Limits Police Ability to Search Cell Phones

On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Riley v. Californina, issuing a rare decision in favor of the criminally accused – a 9-0 decision stating that the police may not search an individual’s cell phone without a warrant following arrest merely under the commonly used exception of being a … Read More

“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