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"

Expunctions, how do they work? What is a PJC?

Contrary to common belief, a PJC (Prayer for Judgment Continued) does not solve every problem.  They are not a silver bullet.  They are very helpful with certain kinds of traffic tickets, but they also indefinitely postpone a final judgment in a criminal case.  This can really hurt your future.  Without a final judgment, there cannot be an expunction. You should know that opportunities to expunge a criminal record in North Carolina are relatively rare. Instead, criminal records eligible for expunction in North Carolina are generally limited to the following three categories:
  • A first-time, nonviolent offense committed more than 15 years ago
  • A first-time offense committed under age 18/22
  • A charge that was dismissed or disposed “not guilty”
A CRIMINAL RECORD often gives rise to significant barriers to gainful employment, affordable housing, family unification, and a variety of other benefits and opportunities essential to productive citizenship. In North Carolina, an expunction is the destruction of a criminal record by court order. An expunction (also called an “expungement”) of a criminal record restores the individual, in the view of the law, to the status he or she occupied before the criminal record existed. With rare exception, when an individual is granted an expunction, he or she may truthfully and without committing perjury or false statement deny or refuse to acknowledge that the criminal incident occurred. The primary exception to this is for purposes of federal immigration. Please see North Carolina General Statutes §15A-151 for other exceptions. This summary provides details of the following twelve expunction statutes:
  • Juvenile Record………………………………… NCGS §7B-3200
  • Misdemeanor Under Age 18…………………… NCGS §15A-145
  • Gang Offense Under Age 18…………………… NCGS §15A-145.1
  • Controlled Substance Under Age 22 …………… NCGS §15A-145.2
  • Toxic Vapors Under Age 22……………............. NCGS §15A-145.3
  • Nonviolent Felony Under Age 18……….……… NCGS §15A-145.4
  • Nonviolent Offense…………………………...... NCGS §15A-145.5
  • Prostitution Offense………………………......... NCGS §15A-145.6
  • Charge Resulting in Dismissal or Not Guilty ….. NCGS §15A-146
  • Identity Theft………………………………….... NCGS §15A-147
  • DNA Records………………………………....... NCGS §15A-148
  • Pardon of Innocence……………………………. NCGS §15A-149
In addition, this summary provides the following information and resources:
  • Certificates of Relief……………………………. NCGS §15A-173
  • Indigent Fee Waiver
  • Steps to Submitting a Petition for Expunction
  • How to Read an ACIS Criminal Record Report
  • Petition for Expunction of Nonviolent Offense, Sample
  • Petition for Expunction of Dismissed Charges, Sample
  • Petitioner’s Affidavit, Worksheet
  • Affidavit of Good Character, Worksheet
  • Affidavit of Good Character
More information and source material. Questions?  Contact us and the attorneys at David R. Payne law firm would be happy to speak with you. Read more "Expunctions, how do they work? What is a PJC?"

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."

Guilty until proven innocent – one Public Defender’s opinion.

I have this belief – it may be a naive belief – that most trials are won not because the jury upheld the presumption of innocence, but because the defense overcame the presumption of guilt. It is human nature to want to hear both sides of a story and then decide which one is more believable. To force the jurors to perform their duty in a manner that is contrary to this human need is merely wishful thinking, no matter how forceful the instruction from the judge.** The presumption of innocence exists in name only; a lofty ideal that we can thump our chests about and shout from rooftops. Look at this fine example of how just we are as a society. The real truth, hidden in the backrooms of courthouses and in the ugly, dirty trenches of everyday warfare is quite different. Every morning, the defendant and the defense lawyer face a nearly unsurmountable task: overcome the fact that almost everyone but you thinks your client is guilty.   Presumption of Guilt, opinion from a Public Defender. Read more "Guilty until proven innocent – one Public Defender’s opinion."

Ferguson, and Self Defense and the Law

"Stand Your Ground" self defense laws in North Carolina? Use of Deadly Force by the police or by anyone is a hot topic.  Here are some thoughts on Ferguson, and information about the law of self defense in North Carolina from the Experts.  Jeff Welty has written a thoughtful overview of the grand jury process and the what happened.  John Rubin has previously written on the Self Defense laws that were passed in North Carolina in 2011. "Yesterday, the grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri , declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in connection with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Some commentators have criticized the decision of the local prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, to present all the evidence to the grand jury, rather than only evidence that would support an indictment. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism, for reasons I explain below," by Jeff Welty, UNC School of Govermnent. "North Carolina law recognizes various circumstances in which a person may lawfully use force against the threat of harm. Through decades of decisions, the North Carolina appellate courts have recognized the right to defend oneself, other people, and one’s home and property, among other interests, and have developed rules on when those rights apply and amount to a defense to criminal charges. New G.S. 14-51.2, 14-51.3, and 14-51.4 address several of the circumstances in which a person may use defensive force. The statutes restate the law in some respects and broaden it in others. The courts will have to examine their procedures closely to give effect to the new statutory language. The new statutes are part of S.L. 2011-268 (H 650), which applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011."  Whole article here, by John Rubin, UNC School of Government. N.C.G.S. 14-51.2 Home, workplace, and motor vehicle protection; presumption of fear of death or serious bodily harm. (a) The following definitions apply in this section: (1) Home. – A building or conveyance of any kind, to include its curtilage, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed as a temporary or permanent residence. (2) Law enforcement officer. – Any person employed or appointed as a full-time, part-time, or auxiliary law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, post-release supervision officer, or parole officer. (3) Motor vehicle. – As defined in G.S. 20-4.01(23). (4) Workplace. – A building or conveyance of any kind, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, which is being used for commercial purposes. (b) The lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to another if both of the following apply: (1) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a home, motor vehicle, or workplace, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person's will from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace. (2) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred. (c) The presumption set forth in subsection (b) of this section shall be rebuttable and does not apply in any of the following circumstances: (1) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the home, motor vehicle, or workplace, such as an owner or lessee, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person. (2) The person sought to be removed from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace is a child or grandchild or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used. (3) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in, attempting to escape from, or using the home, motor vehicle, or workplace to further any criminal offense that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual. (4) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who enters or attempts to enter a home, motor vehicle, or workplace in the lawful performance of his or her official duties, and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties. N.C.G.S. § 14-51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability. (a) A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. (2) Under the circumstances permitted pursuant to G.S. 14-51.2. (b) A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from civil or criminal liability for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties. (2011-268, s. 1.)     Read more "Ferguson, and Self Defense and the Law"

I-40 Challenge means more Troopers for the Holidays.

Additional troopers on the road for Thanksgiving Drivers can use a few simple safety tips while traveling this holiday season:
  • Do not tailgate
  • Use turn signals
  • Maintain appropriate speed
  • Plan ahead/use your mirrors
  • Do not text while driving
  • Wear your seatbelt
The I-40 Challenge will be conducted Wednesday, Nov. 26, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. and again on Sunday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Read more "I-40 Challenge means more Troopers for the Holidays."

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"

New Good Samaritan Law may be tested.

 Man drops off body at mission hospital.  His lips were blue. Every day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.[i] The State of North Carolina has recognized that sometimes the only people to witness an overdose are themselves using illegal drugs, and they may be afraid to call for help because they may get in trouble.  That is changing.  Good Samaritans have some legal protection in drug and alcohol overdose cases under a new law, as of April 2013 in North Carolina[ii].  If you witness someone experiencing an overdose from cocaine, heroin, or alcohol, and they need medical attention, call 911 for help and stay with them.  A new law that is designed to save lives, give protection to someone who acts in good faith to get medical treatment for someone experiencing a "drug-related overdose" meaning an acute condition, including mania, hysteria, extreme physical illness, coma, or death or conditions that a layperson would reasonably believe need immediate medical assistance.  The Good Samaritan shall not be prosecuted[iii] for misdemeanor drug possession, misdemeanor drug paraphernalia, felony possession of up to one gram of heroin or 1 gram of cocaine.  The same scheme applies to underage drinkers. When someone overdoses on opiates, including heroin, they may turn blue in their lips and nails, become unresponsive to screaming and shaking, stop breathing, have seizures and even die.[iv]  Sometimes they can be saved with an injection of Naloxone Hydrochloride, a fast acting opiate antagonist.  This law grants limited immunity to “anyone in a position to assist” who in good faith does assist by providing Naloxone to a person who overdoses on opiates. The related laws for underage drinking grant similar protections for underage drinkers who call for help for a friend who has drank too much, and needs medical help.  If you call for medical help under the good faith exception, you shall not be prosecuted for underage possession or consumption of alcohol. Bottom line, if someone needs immediate medical help, call for help.  When you call 911 for an ambulance, the police may come too.  The police may seize things they see in plain view that are contraband or illegal to possess, but at the end of the day, if you are a Good Samaritan acting in good faith to save someone from an overdose of heroin, cocaine or alcohol, you will not be prosecuted under the new laws.  Please tell your kids about this, they are the ones who are in real danger. Note: this is not blanket immunity from prosecution of all crimes.  The police will still do their job.  This new law gives limited immunity from some but not all drug crimes.  If you have questions, call us.  We are here to help. [i] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html [ii] § 90-96.2 (possession of 1 gram or less of heroin, cocaine or related drug paraphernalia ) and§ 18B-302.2 (underage alcohol possession/consumption) [iii] http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S20v7.pdf [iv] Wikipedia Opioid Overdose 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 "New Good Samaritan Law may be tested."