Common Questions and Helpful Answers About NC Criminal and DWI Charges
It is natural to have many questions and concerns when charged with a crime in North Carolina. These charges can have serious consequences and long-lasting effects on those charged with their families, so they need reliable answers quickly. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long share their answers to many of these tough questions. Find out their thoughts on DWI, traffic charges, and many other crimes.
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Is it illegal to text and drive in North Carolina?
Any form of distracted driving is unsafe, but using a cell phone while driving is one of the most dangerous types of distractions that lead to accidents. In North Carolina, it is illegal to text and drive. Violating this law can result in stiff fines and harsh penalties if you are a school bus or commercial truck driver.
What Is North Carolina’s Law on Texting and Driving?
While most motorists over 18 years old are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, texting while driving is banned. North Carolina is a “primary law” state, which means that the police can stop you and issue you a ticket solely for violating this law. It is illegal for drivers to:
- Manually enter letters or text in a cell phone in an effort to communicate with another individual
- Read an e-mail or text transmitted to or stored in an electronic device
There are exceptions to this ban on texting and driving. It will not apply in these situations:
- The driver is lawfully parked or stopped
- The person is a police officer, firefighter, or ambulance driver texting while they are performing official duties
- The technology used is a factory-installed or after-purchased GPS
- The person is using voice-operated technology
A violation of this traffic law is a civil infraction that is punishable by a $100 fine. A person will not have drivers’ license points placed on his driving record or face higher insurance costs.
If the individual violating the texting ban is a school bus driver, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, not a civil infraction. The penalty is a fine of at least $100.
There are more severe penalties if the person is driving a commercial vehicle. Commercial truck drivers are also prohibited from texting and driving under federal regulations. Two convictions within three years will result in the person’s commercial license being suspended for 60 days while three convictions within this time period could result in a 120-day revocation.
Did you receive a traffic ticket for texting while driving in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you achieve the best possible outcome with fewer long-term consequences. Call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free consultation.
Do I need an attorney if I have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina?
You may consider trying to save money by attending your court hearing for your reckless driving charges on your own. However, retaining an experienced reckless driving attorney is in your best interests, and it may be more affordable to do so than you may think
Why You Need to Retain an Experienced Reckless Driving Attorney
You may not realize it, but you do have options for fighting a reckless driving charge even if you believe that you are guilty. Here are reasons why you want an experienced reckless driving attorney at your side:
- Misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is not a traffic offense in North Carolina. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, it will result in a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, increased insurance costs, and a possible driver’s license suspension. You may be able to avoid some of these harsh consequences if you are represented by an attorney.
- Possible defenses. You may have defenses to the charges, such as speedometer calibration, GPS defense, lack of probable cause to stop you, and other violations of your constitutional rights, even if you are guilty. A skilled lawyer will be able to identify these defenses and use them to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
- Court hearing. You are required to appear at a court hearing when charged with reckless driving in North Carolina. However, your attorney may be able to attend your hearing without you so that you do not have to miss work and lose wages.
- Plea bargain. An attorney will be able to enter into a more favorable plea agreement if that is in your best interest. He may be able to use facts in your case, such as a clean driving record or successful completion of a driver improvement course, to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious traffic offense.
At Browning & Long, PLLC, we are committed to aggressively fighting for the rights of our clients facing reckless driving charges. We have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, which gives us a greater understanding of the strategies that they employ in these cases. To learn more about your possible defenses and how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.
What defenses could I have after being arrested for shoplifting?
If you have been charged with shoplifting as a misdemeanor or felony in Charlotte, it would be a big mistake not to take the charges seriously. The punishment could be a jail or prison sentence, a large fine, and a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, even if you are guilty, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
Defenses That Can Help You Fight Shoplifting Charges
There are a number of defenses that can be present in any criminal case, such as the failure to give you your Miranda warnings or questioning you after you invoke your right to remain silent that could be applicable to your arrest. However, there are also defenses specific to the crimes of shoplifting and what must be proven to convict you of this offense in North Carolina. The prosecutor must prove these two elements:
- You intentionally concealed or possessed items for sale.
- You intended to permanently deprive the business of the item without paying for it.
You will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to identify and raise the defenses that you have to shoplifting charges. Some effective ones that he may use to defend you include:
- Lack of intent. Because the crime of shoplifting requires an intent on your part to intentionally conceal and possess the goods and to deprive the store of them, your lawyer may challenge this aspect of the prosecutor’s case. He may present evidence that you did not intend to steal the items. Depending on the facts in your case, he may be able to show that you accidentally forgot to pay or that you tried to go back and return the merchandise as soon as you realized your mistake.
- Challenging witnesses. In some cases, there is video footage of the shoplifting. However, the prosecutor may rely on witness testimony as to how they saw the crime being committed. These witnesses can be store employees, other customers, or bystanders. A skilled attorney may be able to challenge their observations as unreliable or completely false.
Have you been arrested for shoplifting in Charlotte? Our skilled legal team can help you build a strong defense to the charges that you face and will aggressively fight for the best outcome possible. To learn more about your defenses and options, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.
Can my DWI charge be reduced to wet reckless in North Carolina?
A DWI conviction comes with harsh penalties, such as a jail sentence, fine of up to $10,000, driver’s license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. If you are charged with this offense, it is essential that you retain an experienced DWI attorney who can build a strong defense to charges you face. In some states, prosecutors will reduce a DWI to something called a Wet Reckless, however, in North Carolina this in not an option.
When Can Your Charges Be Pled Down to a Wet Reckless Offense?
In other states or jurisdictions, a wet reckless is a reckless driving offense involving alcohol. It is less serious than a DWI conviction but a more serious offense than a reckless driving conviction that does not involve alcohol. Prosecutors consider reducing a DWI to a wet reckless if this is your first offense of DWI and mitigating circumstances are present. These mitigating circumstances include:
- This is your first offense of DWI in North Carolina and any other state.
- Your impairment was due to alcohol and not any other substance, such as drugs.
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 1.0 percent or lower.
- You have a safe driving record.
- You were polite and cooperative when arrested.
Why Is a Wet Reckless Not an Option in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, there is not such thing as a wet reckless. The Legislature did not create a crime called a wet reckless or any other lesser included offense to a DWI. Accordingly, North Carolina District Attorney's do not offer to reduce DWI charges. They either proceed to trial on the DWI charge or dismiss the case if there is insufficient evidence.
How an Experienced DWI Attorney Can Help.
Although a DWI charge will not be reduced in North Carolina, if you a charged with multiple crimes along with your DWI an experienced attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to have those charges dismissed pursuant to a plea. Additionally, an experienced DWI attorney will thoroughly examine all aspects of your DWI investigation to determine if a mistake was made or a right was violated. If so, a skilled attorney will be able to advocate for a dismissal of your DWI charge or take it to trial.
Contact Us for Help Today
If you have been arrested for DWI in Charlotte, you need an experienced DWI attorney on your side if you hope to successfully fight a DWI charge. To learn how our skilled lawyers can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.
What are defenses to speeding to elude arrest charges?
In North Carolina, speeding to elude arrest is a serious offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Fortunately, you may have defenses to these charges even if you believe that you are guilty. However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to build a strong defense so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
What Is Speeding to Elude Arrest?
It is considered speeding to elude arrest to operate a motor vehicle on a highway, street, or public road while fleeing or attempting to flee a police officer who is performing his duties. It can be charged as a felony if at least two of a list of aggravating factors are present. Some of these factors include:
- Driving more than 15 mph over the speed limit
- Having a gross impairment of a person’s faculties due to intoxication caused by drug or alcohol use or having a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent or higher
- Engaging in reckless driving under North Carolina laws
- Passing a school bus that is stopped
The penalties can include a jail or prison sentence, fines, and driver’s license suspension.
Common Defenses to Speeding to Elude Arrest
Fortunately, you may have defenses that can help you avoid the harsh penalties that you face. These defenses may result in the prosecutor not being able to meet the burden of proof for you to be found guilty. Some of these defenses include:
- Lack of knowledge. You must have known that the police officer was ordering you to pull over or was otherwise pursuing you in order to be convicted. If you can show that you had a lack of knowledge that you were being stopped, this could be a strong defense.
- Official capacity of an officer. You are only required to pull over if a police officer in his official capacity orders you to do so. If you did not know that the law enforcement official was acting in his official capacity, you may not have been obligated to stop.
- Self-defense. While a rare defense, you could claim you were acting in self-defense by fleeing if you were doing so to protect another person or yourself.
- No mitigating factors. If you are being charged with a felony, you may be able to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor if you can show that no aggravating factors were present.
These are defenses specific to this crime. You may have other defenses that a skilled attorney can raise for you.
Being charged with speeding to elude arrest could result in your imprisonment and in you having a permanent criminal record. If you face these charges, we are here to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to your arrest, build a strong defense, and fight for the best possible outcome. To learn more about how we can help, call our office or start an online chat to schedule your free consultation.
Can the police search my car after pulling me over for driving while impaired in North Carolina?
Under the United States and North Carolina constitutions, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, this means that the police must obtain a search warrant before searching your vehicle. However, there are exceptions to this rule when a police officer stops you for driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina.
When Can the Police Search Your Vehicle Without a Search Warrant When Stopping You for DWI?
There are a number of exceptions to the rule against unreasonable searches and seizures that allow the police to search a vehicle without a warrant when stopping someone for DWI. These include the following:
- Probable cause. If the police have probable cause to believe that you are participating in criminal activity or that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle, they can search your vehicle without a warrant. Examples of probable cause include seeing something in plain view, such as a gun or drugs, smelling marijuana or alcohol in your vehicle, or observing your bloodshot eyes or an odor of alcohol.
- Searches incident to your arrest. The police may be allowed to search your vehicle incident to your arrest to look for guns or other evidence relating to your arrest.
- Consent. If you consent to the search of your vehicle, the police would be permitted to do so. You should not consent to the search of your vehicle as you would be waiving your right to challenge the search if evidence is found that can be used against you. Your refusal to permit a search without a search warrant cannot be used against you later in court.
What Should You Do If You’re Pulled Over?
If the police stop you, remain calm and polite. You should stop your vehicle, roll down the window, and put your hands on your steering wheel where they are in plain view. You should also say as little as possible while answering the officer’s basic questions.
Have you been arrested for DWI in Mecklenburg County? Our experienced DWI defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you build a strong defense to the charges that you face. Fill out our online form or call our Charlotte office to schedule your free initial consultation.
What evidence can help in my reckless driving case in North Carolina?
If you have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you must understand that you did not receive a traffic citation. You have been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense with a possible sentence of time in jail, a fine, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record. To build a strong defense and attack the prosecutor’s case against you, you will need evidence that supports your defenses.
Evidence That May Help You Fight the Reckless Driving Charges You Face
Even if you believe that you were guilty, you may have defenses to the reckless driving charges you face that can result in the charges being dismissed or being reduced to a much less serious offense. Some of the evidence that you may need includes:
- Speedometer calibration. Many reckless driving charges in North Carolina are based on driving over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour. A speedometer calibration can help you prove that you were not driving as fast as the police officer claims.
- GPS evidence. If you were charged with only traveling a little over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour, obtaining GPS location data along with a speedometer calibration can be effective to show that you were traveling at a slower speed. At a minimum, this may enable you to get the charges against you reduced to a less serious offense.
- Evidence of improper signs. When the speed limit signs near where you were charged with reckless driving were missing, vandalized, or hidden, this could be a defense to a reckless driving charge, especially if you were driving in an unfamiliar area. Photographs of the signs and the area in general can help you prove that you had no way of knowing the speed limit.
- Medical records. If you were speeding due to a medical emergency, such as experiencing a stroke or heart attack, you would want to obtain medical records substantiating a passenger’s or your health condition that required you to speed.
- Witness testimony. Witness testimony can be valuable to substantiate your defenses, such as that you were not the driver, you were not racing if this is the basis of your charge, or you were speeding due to a medical emergency.
- Evidence of safety commitment. Your sentence may be less harsh if you can show a commitment to safe driving. Evidence of this can include showing a clean driving record prior to these charges or completion of a driver improvement course.
Contact Our Charlotte Reckless Driving Attorneys Today
You need the assistance of an experienced reckless driving attorney in Charlotte to help you identify the defenses that you have and collect the evidence that you will need to aggressively fight the reckless driving charges that you face. Start an online chat today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your charges and the strong defenses you may have.
How can I challenge my blood test results in my DWI case?
In North Carolina, a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) comes with very harsh penalties, such as large fines, a jail sentence, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, DWI is a misdemeanor offense in North Carolina and a conviction would result in a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, there are defenses to these charges that you could have even if you are guilty of driving when intoxicated that may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. One powerful defense may be to challenge the results of your blood test.
Blood Tests in North Carolina DWI Criminal Cases
In North Carolina, police officers are permitted to obtain the amount of alcohol on your breath or blood as evidence to be used against you in a DWI case. The amount of alcohol on your breath is tested through the use of a breath testing machine, and the amount in your blood is tested through a blood test. If you do not consent to this testing, the police would need to obtain a warrant to conduct the test, which they would often obtain. However, under North Carolina’s implied consent laws, you imply consent to this testing and would face harsh penalties for refusing the test, such as automatic revocation of your driver’s license and your refusal being used as evidence in your DWI case.
Common Challenges to Blood Test Results in DWI Cases in NC
A blood test is conducted by drawing your blood and testing it, and it tends to be the most reliable testing procedure. However, this does not mean that the results are always right. If you are successful in challenging the result, the prosecutor may not be able to use the most important piece of evidence against you, and the charges against you may be dismissed. Questions regarding the reliability of the tests may also help to obtain a more favorable plea agreement where the charges are reduced to a much less serious offense.
There are a number of defenses to blood test results, and which one is applicable in your case will depend on your facts. Your experienced DWI attorney will be able to identify the best defenses in your case. Here are some defenses that may apply to your case:
- Lack of qualifications. The person administering the test must be qualified to do so. Your attorney can examine the training and experience of the person who administered your test to see if this is a basis for a defense. Even if the person was qualified, if there are other questions of his competency, such as cases of his falsifying records, this could lead to challenging the use of the blood test against you.
- Chain of custody. In DWI cases, the police are required to follow specific guidelines in handling the evidence—including the blood drawn from you and your test results. To ensure that they were not tampered with, the police must account for them at all times or the chain of custody may be broken. Mislabeling the test tube or misplacing it for a period of time are two examples of when the chain of custody might be broken. If the chain of custody is broken in your case, the blood test result could be excluded from evidence in your criminal case.
- Calibration. Blood testing machines often need to be calibrated, like breathalyzers, to ensure that they work properly. In some cases, the calibration of the equipment used in a blood test may not be properly done and could lead to an error in the results. In this situation, the test results could be excluded or the accuracy questioned.
- Storage. Blood samples must be properly stored or it can result in elevated error rates. The yeast, sugar, and bacteria in the blood can ferment if not stored correctly—which can lead to inaccurate test results. If your blood sample was improperly stored, the results may be inadmissible.
Let Us Help Raise All Your Defenses in Your DWI Case
Were you charged with DWI? An experienced DWI defense attorney can help you aggressively fight the charges you face. We have the added benefit of being former prosecutors so we understand how they approach these cases. To learn more about how we can help you build a strong defense, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
What speeding tickets CAN suspend my North Carolina Driver's License vs. what tickets WILL?
North Carolina is a strict state when it comes to speeding and you would be amazed at what speeding violations can suspend your North Carolina Driver’s license. In some instances, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the option to suspend your license and in other instances, the suspension is automatic. Below we explain what types of speeding tickets can suspend your driver’s license and what ticket will suspend your license.
Tickets where the North Carolina DMV CAN suspend your license
In The following scenarios the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the option of suspending your driver’s license:
- Two convictions for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction of reckless driving and a conviction for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction of aggressive driving and a conviction for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction for speeding over 75 MPH on a street or highway where the speed limit is less than 70 mph
- A conviction for speeding over 80 MPH on a street of highway where the speed limit is 70 MPH
Tickets where the North Carolina DMV WILL automatically suspend you license
In the following scenarios the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license:
- A conviction for speeding 15 MPH over the speed limit where you are traveling greater than 55 MPH
- A conviction for speeding greater than 80 MPH
DO NOT JUST PAY OFF YOUR NORTH CAROLINA SPEEDING TICKET
Oftentimes, when you are charged with a speeding ticket the officer tells you to just pay the fine and you do not have to go to court. There are even instructions on many of the citations about how you can just pay off your citation without having to go to court. It is imperative that you understand that when you just pay off the ticket you are pleading guilty. As you can see, a minor run of the mill speeding ticket can suspend your driver’s license so whatever you do, do not just pay off your ticket. Speak to an attorney to see what options you have.
How Attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC Can Help
YOur best shot at a good outcommon to to speak with an experienced traffic ticket lawyer. Our experienced traffic attorneys have represented thousands of folks charged with speeding tickets. When you hire us to represent you for your speeding ticket we will negotiate with the District Attorney on your behalf and do everything in our power to ensure that your driver’s license is not suspended and that your insurance premiums do not increase. Specifically, our attorneys will seek to get the following results:
- Get your ticket dismissed. This is the best result. No points on your driver’s license or insurance and you do not have to pay any fines, fees or court cost.
- Amend your ticket to an Improper Equipment, a violation that will put no points on your driver’s license or insurance policy.
- Obtain a PJC (prayer for judgment continued). A PJC, like an improper equipment, does not put any points on your driver’s license or insurance policy.
- Lastly, we could reduce your speed to a speed that would not suspend your driver’s license.
What are assault with a deadly weapons charges that I could face in North Carolina?
If you are charged with assaulting someone in North Carolina, you could be facing misdemeanor charges—even if you never touched anyone. However, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or more serious felony charge if a deadly weapon was used in the assault. A conviction can result in you being sentenced to prison and having a permanent criminal record. Because of these very serious consequences, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you build a strong defense to the charges that you face.
Misdemeanor Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges
Most assault and battery charges are misdemeanor offenses in North Carolina. You can be charged with assault for threatening someone whereas battery requires actual physical contact. There are three general assault and battery crimes:
- Assault and battery that involves physically injuring someone else
- Assault, which can be an attempt to commit an assault and battery, or a show of force when it appears that an assault is imminent
- Affray, which is a fight between two or more people, in a public place that puts others in fear
There are a number of specific misdemeanor assault and battery offenses that are considered more serious, and the charge is a Class A1 misdemeanor rather than the less serious Class 2 misdemeanor charged in many simple assault cases.
Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the more serious misdemeanor offenses. A person can be charged with this offense if he commits an assault, assault and battery, or affray if he causes a person to suffer serious injury or uses a deadly weapon. While a deadly weapon is not defined in the statute, it can include a gun, knife, blunt object, or another object that is not generally considered a deadly weapon but could be used to kill a person.
A misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon carries these possible penalties:
- Jail sentence of up to 60 days for a first offense or 150 days if there were prior convictions
- Probation—either supervised or unsupervised
- Fine with the amount in the judge’s discretion
Felony Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges
You could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon as a felony if you committed the assault with the intent to kill or caused serious injuries, or both. What constitutes a deadly weapon is not specifically defined and includes a wide range of potentially dangerous objects. There are two levels of assault charges, and both involve these elements of the crime:
- Serious injury. Although not defined in the criminal statute, an injury is considered a serious injury if it requires medical attention whether or not the victim actually receives medical treatment.
- Intent to kill. This means that the person who committed the assault intended to kill the victim, and the intent can be established through the circumstances of the crime. This can include threats, other words, or prior angry incidents between the accused person and victim.
Assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as a Class E felony if there was serious injury or the intent to kill. If there is both serious injury and the intent to kill, the crime is often a Class C felony. A conviction could result in these penalties:
- Class E felony. This offense is punishable by 15 to 31 months in prison, but a judge must justify the sentence if he deviates from the presumptive sentence of between 20 to 25 months in prison. In addition, if there are prior convictions, the prison sentence can be extended up to 63 months.
- Class C felony. A Class C felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of 44 to 98 months, with a presumptive sentence of between 58 to 72 months. The sentence can be increased to 182 months if there are prior convictions.
Given the risk that you may be sentenced to prison if convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, you should do everything you can to fight the charges that you face. Even if you are guilty, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can raise defenses that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn how we have helped other clients facing criminal charges and how we can assist you, call our office to schedule your free case review today.