Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15

When you call 911 for help for a drug overdose, you and the person who overdoses are immune from prosecution for simple possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, et cetera.  Contraband will be seized by the police, but possession of 1 gram or less shall not be prosecuted, pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 90-96.2. Limited Immunity for Samaritan. – A person shall not be prosecuted for any of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section if all of the following requirements and conditions are met:
  • (1) The person sought medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose by contacting the 911 system, a law enforcement officer, or emergency medical services personnel.
  • (2) The person acted in good faith when seeking medical assistance, upon a reasonable belief that he or she was the first to call for assistance. (3) The person provided his or her own name to the 911 system or to a law enforcement officer upon arrival.
  • (4) The person did not seek the medical assistance during the course of the execution of an arrest warrant, search warrant, or other lawful search. Page 2 Session Law 2015-94 Senate Bill 154-Ratified
  • (5) The evidence for prosecution of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance for the drug-related overdose.
The immunity described in subsection (b) of this section shall extend to the person who experienced the drug-related overdose if all of the requirements and conditions listed in subdivisions (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subsection (b) of this section are satisfied. Full text of the updated statute: Good Samaritan Law Clarified Read more "Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15"

Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE

The Harm Reduction Coalition of of Asheville is providing much needed Narcan kits for those in need in Asheville.  They have kits that consist of two vials of Narcan and syringes with instructions, and they have a few kits of Narcan Auto injectors, for people who are not comfortable with needles.   You can buy Narcan kits at Pharmacies, but the auto injector kits are expensive, running $700-$800 .  This is life saving technology available for free.

Confidential Contacts for information and kits.

What is Narcan™ (naloxone)?

Narcan™ (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow down or stop and it can very hard to wake them from this state. Narcan™ (naloxone) is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It cannot be used to get a person high. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, it will not have any effect on him or her, since there is no opioid overdose to reverse.

How does Narcan™ (naloxone) work? 

If a person has taken opioids and is then given Narcan™ (naloxone), the opioids will be knocked out of the opiate receptors in the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) can help even if opioids are taken with alcohol or other drugs. After a dose of  Narcan™ (naloxone), the person should begin to breathe more normally and it will become easier to wake them. It is very important to give help to an overdosing person right away. Brain damage can occur within only a few minutes of an opioid overdose as the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) gives concerned helpers a window of opportunity to save a life by providing extra time to call 911 and carry out rescue breathing and first aid until emergency medical help arrives.

Doesn’t a person need to be a medical professional to be able to spot a serious overdose and give Narcan™?  Research has shown that with basic training, nonmedical professionals, such as friends, family members or even concerned bystanders, can recognize when an overdose is occurring and give Narcan™ (naloxone), and in North Carolina, you are protected from civil liability for giving Narcan by the Good Samaritan Law.

 NCGS § 90-96.2 Good Samaritan/ Naloxone Access law, effective April 9, 2013, states that individuals who experience a drug overdose or persons who witness an overdose and seek help for the victim can no longer be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of drugs, paraphernalia, or underage drinking.  The purpose of the law is to remove the fear of criminal repercussions for calling 911 to report an overdose, and to instead focus efforts on getting help to the victim. The Naloxone Access portion of  NCGS § 90-96.2 removes civil liabilities from doctors who prescribe and bystanders who administer naloxone, or Narcan, an opiate antidote which reverses drug overdose from opiates, thereby saving the life of the victim.  NCGS § 90-96.2 also allows community based organizations to dispense Narcan under the guidance of a medical provider. As a result, officers may encounter people who use opiates and their loved ones carrying overdose reversal kits that may include Narcan vials, 3cc syringes, rescue breathing masks and alcohol pads.

Is the use of naloxone by non-medical people controversial?

No.  Recently the American Medical Association endorsed the training of lay people in the use of Narcan (naloxone) to prevent overdoses.  Also the director of Office of National Drug Control Policy,Gil Kerlikowski (the U.S. Drug Czar), remarked that naloxone distribution is a key component of overdose prevention.

Can Narcan™ (naloxone) harm a person?       

No. Narcan™ (naloxone) only affects people who are using opioids. If a person is not having an overdose but has been using opioids, Narcan™ (naloxone) will put them into immediate withdrawal. This can be very uncomfortable for the person, but is not life threatening.

Read more "Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE"

It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…

Orange County D.A. Office removed from Murder Case Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a "chronic failure" to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial, in Orange County, California. The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai's attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' conflict of interest in the Dekraai case "is not imaginary," the judge wrote. "It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations." In hearings last year, the judge heard testimony from Orange County jailers Seth Tunstall and Ben Garcia, who belonged to the "special handling" unit that dealt with informants. Despite extensive questioning, however, neither made mention of secret jailhouse computer logs — called TRED records — with which both had extensive experience...The ruling marked a victory for Dekraai's defense attorneys, who said the district attorney's office had covered up wide-ranging misconduct in its zeal to put the killer on death row. On Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai walked into the Salon Meritage and opened fire, killing his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48, along with salon owner Randy Fannin, 62; Lucia Kondas, 65; Michele Fast, 47; Victoria Buzzo, 54; Laura Elody, 46; Christy Wilson, 47; and David Caouette, 64, who was shot as he sat in his car outside. Read more "It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…"

How Much Prison Time? – There’s an App For That

Federal Sentencing Guidelines App The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are used as a guide for judges to determine how much time a person gets after pleading guilty or being found guilty at trial.  After a conviction, the government prepares a pre-sentencing report based on those guidelines to determine a recommended range of months in prison for the jude to consider.  This range is based on factors such as the offense, the dollar amount of the crime, previous criminal history, whether the person cooperated, was there a gun involved, etc.  In other words, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much time a person could spend in prison unless you are an expert.  But this is something that both the person going to prison and the victims of the crime might be interested in knowing before the actual sentence is imposed.  Lucky for us, there’s an App for that... The developer cautions that this is a professional tool, though it is available to anyone.  It is meant to be used by lawyers or professionals as an estimating tool.  Again, it is only a guide.  After all, the judge can sentence someone outside the guidelines...  Forbes Article by Walter Pavlo   Read more "How Much Prison Time? – There’s an App For That"

Asheville Police Text a Tip

Information from the community remains one of the most important tools officers use when cracking cases. Community policing, in the form of observations and tips, often offers the best set of eyes and ears a department has. That’s why the Asheville Police Department has many ways to make it easy and confidential to relay information to them. Text-a-Tip is the latest in a selection of opportunities for the community to report criminal activity and interact with the Asheville Police Department. The software, which enables tips through smart phones, already rivals the APD’s other tip lines in terms of volume. Since Text-a-Tip launched in July, the department has received 58 tips over the system, says APD Sgt. Michael Lamb, and the information has resulted in several arrests and drug seizures. “It’s a way to give us information in almost real time and at the same time remain completely anonymous.” Lamb says. “We need the eyes and ears out in the community. They know about things before we ever could.” The system allows people to text information to the APD through a third party provider, meaning the source of the tip remains anonymous. By texting and responding, the tipster and the officer can communicate back and forth. “This is technology that is comfortable and easy to use, especially for young people who are used to texting,” Lamb says. To use Tex-a-Tip, text “APDTIP” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES) on your cell phone or mobile device (Note: standard rates may apply). A third party routes the message to an APD Criminal Investigations Supervisor who assigns it to the on-duty patrol commander. “We’re all set up for it,” Lamb says. “It goes straight to our smart phones.” Officers never see the phone number or identity of the person relaying information, and the tipster can end the conversation by texting “STOP.” Text-a-Tip is especially helpful when used alongside the mapping technology found atcrimereports.com that lets a viewer track calls for service around town and in their neighborhood. They can click on an icon and a window displays the type of crime under investigation. If the person has any information, he or she can report specifically about the incident through Text-a-Tip or on a personal computer through the WebTips link.   http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/2012/11/texting-tech-helps-apd-get-community-crime-tips/ Read more "Asheville Police Text a Tip"

Supreme Court rules Indoor Grow Marijuana search warrant invalid based on anonymous tip

State v. Benters Synopsis: September, 2011 a Confidential Informant meets with Detective Hastings of the Vance County Sheriff's office and tells he knows where an indoor marijuana grow operation is in Henderson, N.C.  The CI tells him the name of the owner, the address, that the owner doesn't live there.  The officers perform a "knock and talk" and secure a warrant based on the C.I. statements and their own observations, such as gardening supplies and an unusually large light bill.  The police find a large indoor grow operation.  The defendant Benters, was charged with trafficking marijuana, among other things.  The defendant moved to suppress the search based on the defective warrant and constitutional violations.  The trial court granted the defendant's motion.  The State appealed.  The State Supreme Court sided with the Defendant, holding that conclusions by law enforcement and an essentially unidentified tipster could not sustain the warrant. From the opinion: Here Lieutenant Ferguson averred that “Detective Hastings has extensive training and experience with indoor marijuana growing investigations on the state and federal level,” and that Detective Hastings had subpoenaed defendant’s Progress Energy power records. Lieutenant Ferguson then summarily concluded that “the kilowatt usage hours are indicative of a marijuana grow operation based on the extreme high and low kilowatt usage.” As explained above, the absence of any comparative analysis severely limits the potentially significant value of defendant’s utility records. Kaluza, 272 Mont. at 409, 901 P.2d at 110; McManis, 2010 VT 63, ¶¶ 16-19, 188 Vt. at 195-97, 5 A.3d at 896. Therefore, these unsupported allegations do little to establish probable cause independently or by corroborating the anonymous tip. Campbell, 282 N.C. at 130-31, 191 S.E.2d at 756. We acknowledge that investigating officers or a reviewing magistrate may have some degree of suspicion regarding defendant’s “extreme high and low kilowatt usage” given that defendant “is not currently living at the residence.” These unspecified extremes also may be explained, however, by wholly innocent behavior such as defendant’s intermittently visiting his property. Thus, these circumstances may justify additional investigation, but they do not establish probable cause. We turn next to the officers’ observations of multiple gardening items on defendant’s property in the absence of exterior gardens or potted plants. In relevant part, the affidavit provides that law enforcement officers observed from outside of the curtilage multiple items in plain view that were indicative of an indoor marijuana growing operation. The items mentioned above are as followed [sic]; potting soil, starting fertilizer, seed starting trays, plastic cups, metal storage racks, and portable pump type sprayers. Detectives did not observe any gardens or potted plants located around the residence. Nothing here indicates “a ‘fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place’ ” beyond Lieutenant Ferguson’s wholly conclusory allegations. State v. Benters, (5A14) Motion to suppress evidence; whether an affidavit based upon an anonymous tip established probable cause to issue a search warrant. Read more "Supreme Court rules Indoor Grow Marijuana search warrant invalid based on anonymous tip"

Ignorance of the Law is no excuse, unless you are a police officer.

Supreme Court holds that reasonable mistake of law is excusable.  On the morning of April 29, 2009, Sergeant Matt Darisse of the Surry County Sheriff ’s Department sat in his patrol car near Dobson, North Carolina, observing northbound traffic on Interstate 77. Shortly before 8 a.m., a Ford Escort passed by. Darisse thought the driver looked “very stiff and nervous,” so he pulled onto the interstate and began following the Escort. A few miles down the road, the Escort braked as it approached a slower vehicle, but only the left brake light came on. Noting the faulty right brake light, Darisse activated his vehicle’s lights and pulled the Escort over.  As a result of the vehicle stop, which lead to a consent search, the driver and passenger were both charged with attempted trafficking of cocaine.  They challenged the stop, but plead guilty to drug charges. Full opinion of Supreme Court here. Bottom line: Even if police pull you for the wrong reason like speeding 35 in 25 and the speed limit is actually 45, the stop is probably still legal, if the judge finds the mistake is reasonable.  Unless it is a clear violation of your 4th amendment right to privacy.  "An officer’s mistaken view that the conduct at issue did not give rise to such a violation—no matter how reasonable—could not change that ultimate conclusion." Read more "Ignorance of the Law is no excuse, unless you are a police officer."

Should you give breath sample? 3 of3

Part 3 of 3 DWIs are tough,  but you don’t have to face it alone.  Call us after hours at 828-393-3000 for a consultation. Driving Related DWI Itemized Costs and Suspensions.   Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege
  • $100.00 Paid 10 Days After Charge To: Clerk of Court
  • Purpose: If license is revoked for 30 days, the pretrial limited driving privilege allows for limited purposes for the final 20 days of the civil revocation.
30 Day Civil Restoration Fee
  • $100.00 Paid 30 Days After Charge to: Clerk of Court
  • Purpose: To Get License Back 30 Days After DWI Charge
Post-trial Limited Driving Privilege
  • $100.00 upon  Conviction or When Eligible to: Clerk of Court
  • Purpose: Allows driving for specific limited purposes during the period your license is revoked for the DWI conviction
Ignition Interlock System
  • Installation Cost: Approximately $75.00 Monthly Cost: Approximately $75.00 to: Installation Company
  • Purpose: Driving may only be allowed with an interlock system
License Restoration Fees
  • $50.00-$100.00 Upon Restoration of Driver’s License (Following Revocation for Refusal or DWI Conviction) to: NC DMV
  • Purpose: Restore Driver’s License
Court Fees Fine & DWI Fee
  • When you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI Fine Allowed by Statute: Up to $10,000.00 Typical DWI Cost: $200.00 – $500.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Court Costs
  • When you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI Cost: $190.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Jail Fee
  • When you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI you must pay jail fees Cost: $40.00 Per Day in Jail
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Community Service Fee
  • When you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI Cost: $250.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Lab Fees for Blood Cases
  • When you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI Cost: $600.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Supervised Probation Fees
  • Schedule Determined by Probation Set-up Cost: $40.00
  • Monthly Fee: $40.00
  • Payable to: Clerk of Court
Alcohol Assessment and Treatment Assessment:
  •  At Assessment Cost: $100.00
  • Payable to: Agency Performing Assessment
Treatment:
  • Time of Payment: Determined by Agency
  • Typical Cost: $160.00 – $800.00
  • Payable to: Agency Conducting Treatment
  High Risk Insurance after you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI is expensive.  Your insurance cost will increase by as much as 340% for example, if you pay $300 now, you will pay $1320 afterwards.  Collision, comprehensive coverage may be difficult to find, and it may cost more than outlined by the department of insurance.  DWI is a 12 point offense that results in your automatically losing your license for one year.  It is possible to get a limited privilege to drive after you plead guilty or are found guilty of DWI, but that requires a court order, and you must carry that order also known as a “paper license” with you when you drive.       Read more "Should you give breath sample? 3 of3"

Should you give a breath sample when you are stopped for DWI? Part 1 of 3

  Blow or No? You must decide for yourself.  But you don’t have to do it alone.  Call us after hours at 828-393-3000 for a consultation. The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the most important evidence against you in a DWI case.  Drinking and driving is not illegal in North Carolina.  Driving while impaired is. “ Impaired” is defined two ways: .08 or higher within a relevant time after driving, or being “appreciably impaired”, which means impaired to the extent that is capable of being noticed or observed, to the extent that it impairs either your mental or physical faculties or both.  It is possible to be convicted for DWI even if your BAC is less than .08, if you are appreciably impaired, and it happens in Buncombe County. Police use two different breath tests – one is optional and one is mandatory.  alcosensor IIIThe optional one is a small handheld unit and the numerical results are not admissible in court to prove a DWI.  (The results ARE admissible to prove under-age consumption of alcohol.)  The mandatory testing unit is a large machine typically kept at the jail or police station called an intoximeter.  It is a flat metal box with a tube that you blow into.  Those results of that test are admissible in court, and that is the test that counts.  You have the right to refuse the mandatory test, but if you do, your driver’s license will be revoked a year, even if you are not convicted, and the fact that you refused will be admissible in your criminal trial.    Always be polite and cooperative, but understand that you have the legal right to refuse all roadside testing without having your license revoked.  Once you get to the intoximeter at the jail, you have to decide if you will refuse to mandatory testing at the cost of losing your license for one year. ecirii-breath-test     The police may also ask for a blood sample to test for drugs. Any amount of Schedule I drugs (Opiates, Heroin, LSD, Psilocybin, MDA, Mescaline, et. cetera) along with the officer’s observations may be sufficient to prove DWI.   They will also ask for a blood test for Alcohol or drugs by the SBI if you are hospitalized during the investigation. They will charge you $600 for lab fees if you are convicted.  You have the right to refuse that blood test, but if you do, your driver’s license will be revoked a year, even if you are not convicted.  Police may skip the State blood test and ask the hospital directly for your medical records.  HIPAA regulations allow law enforcement officers to request your medical records directly from your provider, even if you don't consent.   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEgEUN8ddfA[/embed] Contact us. [contact-form subject='blog contact'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] Read more "Should you give a breath sample when you are stopped for DWI? Part 1 of 3"