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"

Overdose Awareness Free Naxolone Training & Kits August 29, 2015 6:30-9pm, Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Rd.

Free Narcan Kits and Training Saturday, 8/29 6:30-9 at Firestorm Book Store at 610 Haywood Rd. Drop in for a few minutes and save a life. Narcan is treatment for opiate overdose that is safe, fast acting, and effective. Narcan is legal to give to anyone who has OD'd on Heroin, Fentanyl, Morphine, Oxy - most opiates. Life saving information and life saving medicine. If someone you love is an opiate user, you need to be there.   In preparation for International Overdose Awareness Day (8/31), the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will be hosting a drop-in naloxone training. Kits will be distributed to participants at no cost. Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, for example morphine and heroin overdose. Specifically, naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication.  Citizens who give Narcan to someone who has overdosed is protected from civil liability under the Good Samaritan Law which also protects users from prosecution when they call for medical aid. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) is North Carolina’s only comprehensive harm reduction program. NCHRC engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for law enforcement and those made vulnerable by drug use, sex work, overdose, immigration status, gender, STIs, HIV and hepatitis. Firestorm Books & Coffee
610 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806
https://www.facebook.com/events/492684954221185/
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Same Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide

Same sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states. Agree or disagree, it is now the law of the Land. We ask you to join us in celebrating this decision on behalf of our GLBT friends and family members who now have the unqualified right to marry. Here is the opinion. It will be read and cited for decades to come. The Entire Case Holding: The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. Baker v. Nelson is overruled. The State laws challenged by the petitioners in these cases are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. Read more "Same Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide"

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"

U.S. Attorney announces new limits on asset seizures.

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 16, 2015
Attorney General Prohibits Federal Agency Adoptions of Assets Seized by State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Except Where Needed to Protect Public Safety
Today, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order setting forth a new policy prohibiting federal agency forfeiture, or “adoptions,” of assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies, with a limited public safety exception.  A federally adopted forfeiture – or “adoption” for short – occurs when a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a policy consistent with the Attorney General’s order and that policy will apply to all participants of the Treasury forfeiture program, administered by the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture. “With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is taking an important step to prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This is the first step in a comprehensive review that we have launched of the federal asset forfeiture program.  Asset forfeiture remains a critical law enforcement tool when used appropriately – providing unique means to go after criminal and even terrorist organizations.  This new policy will ensure that these authorities can continue to be used to take the profit out of crime and return assets to victims, while safeguarding civil liberties.” The Attorney General ordered that federal agency adoption of property seized by state or local law enforcement under state law be prohibited, except for property that directly relates to public safety concerns, including firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography.  The prohibition on federal agency adoption includes, but is not limited to, seizures by state or local law enforcement of vehicles, valuables, cash and other monetary instruments.  This order is effective immediately and applies to all Justice Department attorneys and components, and all participants in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program.  The new policy will ensure that adoption is employed only to protect public safety, and does not extend to seizures where state and local jurisdictions can more appropriately act under their own laws. Both the Justice and Treasury Departments regularly review their asset forfeiture programs to ensure that federal asset forfeiture authorities are used carefully and effectively to take the profit out of crime, combat organized crime groups, and enable victim compensation, while ensuring that laws are followed, civil liberties are protected, and our constitutional system is strengthened.  Since 2000, the Justice Department has returned approximately $4 billion in forfeited funds to victims of federal crime.  Both departments will be part of the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, which will provide recommendations to the President regarding actions that can be taken to improve programs, like asset forfeiture, that help local law enforcement obtain equipment. The Justice Department’s policy permitting federal agencies to adopt seizures dates from the inception of the Asset Forfeiture Program in the 1980s.  The Treasury Department’s adoption policy has been part of its Asset Forfeiture Program since its inception in 1993.  At the time that these policies were implemented, few states had forfeiture statutes analogous to the federal asset forfeiture laws.  Consequently, when state and local law enforcement agencies seized criminal proceeds and property used to commit crimes, they often lacked the legal authority to forfeit the seized items.  Turning seized assets over to federal law enforcement agencies for adoption was a way to keep those assets from being returned to criminals.  Today, however, every state has either criminal or civil forfeiture laws, making the federal adoption process less necessary.  Indeed, adoptions currently constitute a very small slice of the federal asset forfeiture program.  Over the last six years, adoptions accounted for roughly three percent of the value of forfeitures in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program. The new policy applies only to adoptions, not to seizures resulting from joint operations involving both federal and state authorities, or to seizures pursuant to warrants issued by federal courts.  The policy does not limit the ability of state and local agencies to pursue the forfeiture of assets pursuant to their respective state laws.  Law enforcement agencies working on joint task forces are required to follow the 2015 Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. attorney_general_order_prohibiting_adoptions
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A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment.

Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. __ (April 21, 2015). A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment. After an officer completed a traffic stop, including issuing the driver a warning ticket and returning all documents, the officer asked for permission to walk his police dog around the vehicle. The driver said no. Nevertheless, the officer instructed the driver to turn off his car, exit the vehicle and wait for a second officer. When the second officer arrived, the first officer retrieved his dog and led it around the car, during which time the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. A search of the vehicle revealed a large bag of methamphetamine. All told, 7-8 minutes elapsed from the time the officer issued the written warning until the dog’s alert. The defendant was charged with a drug crime and unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his car, arguing that the officer prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff. The defendant was convicted and appealed. The Eighth Circuit held that the de minimus extension of the stop was permissible. The Supreme Court granted certiorari “to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.”

The Court reasoned that an officer may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, but “he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.” The Court noted that during a traffic stop, beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer’s mission includes “ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop” such as checking the driver’s license, determining whether the driver has outstanding warrants, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance. It explained: “These checks serve the same objective as enforcement of the traffic code: ensuring that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly.” A dog sniff by contrast “is a measure aimed at detect[ing] evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” (quotation omitted). It continued: “Lacking the same close connection to roadway safety as the ordinary inquiries, a dog sniff is not fairly characterized as part of the officer’s traffic mission.”

Noting that the Eighth Circuit’s de minimus rule relied heavily on Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977) (per curiam) (reasoning that the government’s “legitimate and weighty” interest in officer safety outweighs the “de minimis” additional intrusion of requiring a driver, already lawfully stopped, to exit the vehicle), the Court distinguished Mimms:

Unlike a general interest in criminal enforcement, however, the government’s officer safety interest stems from the mission of the stop itself. Traffic stops are “especially fraught with danger to police officers,” so an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. On-scene investigation into other crimes, however, detours from that mission. So too do safety precautions taken in order to facilitate such detours. Thus, even assuming that the imposition here was no more intrusive than the exit order in Mimms, the dog sniff could not be justified on the same basis. Highway and officer safety are interests different in kind from the Government’s endeavor to detect crime in general or drug trafficking in particular. (citations omitted)

The Court went on to reject the Government’s argument that an officer may “incremental[ly]” prolong a stop to conduct a dog sniff so long as the officer is reasonably diligent in pursuing the traffic-related purpose of the stop, and the overall duration of the stop remains reasonable in relation to the duration of other traffic stops involving similar circumstances. The Court dismissed the notion that “by completing all traffic-related tasks expeditiously, an officer can earn bonus time to pursue an unrelated criminal investigation.” It continued:

If an officer can complete traffic-based inquiries expeditiously, then that is the amount of “time reasonably required to complete [the stop’s] mission.” As we said in Caballes and reiterate today, a traffic stop “prolonged beyond” that point is “unlawful.” The critical question, then, is not whether the dog sniff occurs before or after the officer issues a ticket . . . but whether conducting the sniff “prolongs”—i.e., adds time to—“the stop”. (citations omitted).

In this case, the trial court ruled that the defendant’s detention for the dog sniff was not independently supported by individualized suspicion. Because the Court of Appeals did not review that determination the Court remanded for a determination by that court as to whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justified detaining the defendant beyond completion of the traffic infraction investigation.

Author:

Jessica Smith

W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor

School of Government

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CB 3330, Knapp-Sanders Building

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330

T: 919.966.4105  |  http://www.sog.unc.edu/user/150

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Can the government take my money without arresting me for anything?

Yes.  But it appears the Federal Government is putting the breaks on a policy and practice of routine civil forfeiture of suspected illegal proceeds.  If this has happened to you or someone you care about, call us.  Those seizures can be contested in court, and a judge can order the police to return your money.  Jeff Welty discussed the issue on the UNC school of government website in detail On Friday, January 20, 2015, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced major new limits on asset forfeiture. In a nutshell, he put a stop to the federal civil forfeiture of assets seized by state and local law enforcement and “adopted” under the Equitable Sharing program. The details are a little fuzzy, but this may be a very big deal in the world of forfeiture, for reasons Jeff Welty, UNC School of Government, discuss below. New_Limits_on_Forfeiture   Read more "Can the government take my money without arresting me for anything?"

The police intercept and record cell phone information using “Stingray” device.

These Stingray devices are used by local law enforcement in North Carolina.  U.S. District Court Throws out Stingray Evidence. They are being used in criminal investigations in Buncombe.  I have seen the results where they can pin-point your location on a map, and the path you take, like a trail of breadcrumbs.  They capture information from innocent, law abiding citizens indiscriminately.  The government can use these to spy on you.  The devices can not only be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this year, Ars reported on how theFBI is actively trying to "prevent disclosure" of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.
A Stingray works by masquerading as a cell phone tower—to which your mobile phone sends signals to every 7 to 15 seconds whether you are on a call or not— and tricks your phone into connecting to it. As a result, the government can figure out who, when and to where you are calling, the precise location of every device within the range, and with some devices, even capture the content of your conversations.
Specifically, says the Wall Street Journal, "the stingray operator [can] 'ping,' or send a signal to, a phone and locate it as long as it is powered on."  Stingray2-640x353 This practice was successfully challenged by the ACLU.  "The court today has confirmed that law enforcement cannot hide behind a shroud of secrecy while it is invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve," Mariko Hirose, a NYCLU Staff Attorney, said in a statement. "The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed, and they deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use." The actual court order.   The 24-page order comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and marks a rare victory in favor of transparency of "cell-site simulators," which are often shrouded in secrecy. New York county sheriff must give up stingray records, judge orders. How does the technology work? Read more "The police intercept and record cell phone information using “Stingray” device."

U.S. court rules residency requirements for pistol buys is unconstitutional

Mance v. Holder Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-539-O Fed. Dist. Ct. A federal district court in Texas overturned a 1968 gun law prohibiting the sale of handguns to out-of-state residents, granting those who live in Washington, D.C., the ability to travel to an out-of-state gun store, buy a handgun and bring it home without a middleman.2ndAmendment The ruling takes aim at the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited handgun sales to out-of-state residents and was defended by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who argued that the law doesn’t violate the Second Amendment. Proponents of lifting the ban said the 1968 law had become dated given technological advances in instant background checks, which are performed every time a gun is purchased from a federally licensed firearm dealer. It also prohibited a robust national handgun market from developing, as rifles and shotguns can be purchased regardless of state residency, but handguns are not. Judge Reed O'Connor said the law had to survive the highest level of scrutiny and ruled that it plainly did not. He granted the gun vendors’ request for a summary judgment striking down the law. “Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Defendants have not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government’s goals under current law. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face,” he wrote. The decision can be appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and Justice may ask for a stayBut if it stands, the Texas court’s ruling would allow a pistol to be purchased from an out-of-state buyer if that handgun is legal in the buyer’s state of residency. For D.C. residents, the ruling has particular importance because for the first time they will be able to make handgun purchases in neighboring Virginia or Maryland and bring the guns home. Before the ruling, because the District has no gun stores, D.C. residents had to go through middlemen who purchased the firearms on their behalf, then resold them with a surcharge. “This is a tremendous victory for the civil rights of Washington, D.C., residents and Americans in general — the court recognized there’s no need to destroy the national market for handguns,” said Alan Gura, who argued the case for the plaintiffs and is a founding partner at Gura & Possessky Pllc, in the District. “District residents are free to purchase handguns so long as they comply with D.C. law and have those handguns properly registered.” Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/11/federal-court-rules-residency-requirements-pistol-/#ixzz3ReZd8oD2  Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter   Read more "U.S. court rules residency requirements for pistol buys is unconstitutional"