Is Medical Marijuana legal in North Carolina?

No. North Carolina has yet to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. In the United States, 28 states and Washington, DC have legalized medical Marijuana. 

In 2016, Representative Kelly Alexander introduced House Bill 983 which was solely focused on the legalization of medical marijuana. The bill passed its “1st reading” on 4/28/2016, and was sent to the Committee on Health. No further action has happened with the bill since that time. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the House and the Senate, ratified and if required signed by the Governor. 

It is quite possible that we could see changes in the laws here in NC over the next few years, as the political climate continues to change in our state. 

If you were charged with possession of marijuana, or possession of drug paraphernalia, and you have a medical diagnosis give our office a call for a free consultation. While medical marijuana is not yet legal in NC, you may have options available to help you keep your criminal record clean. 

Attorney Wiley Nickel is on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana law (NORML) legal committee, which works to reform marijuana laws. Call attorney Kristi Haddock or attorney Wiley Nickel at 919-585-1486. Our office is located in Cary near the corner of Harrison Avenue and Weston Parkway. 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Can the Police Search My Car if They Smell Marijuana?

Imagine you’re pulled over for a traffic offense like speeding, or expired registration. When the officer approaches your window he asks the typical question like “do you know why I pulled you over,” or requests that you provide license and insurance. Next, the officer tells you that they smell marijuana. You’re confused, you haven’t been smoking marijuana, and never have even smoked in your car. The officer now wants to search you and your car. What should you do? Cases like State v. Greenwood, tell us that the odor of marijuana amounts to probable cause to search a vehicle. It seems that officers are using this excuse to search cars more and more. But, there are limits to who can be searched. Probable cause to search the occupants of a car must be individualized. If the odor of marijuana is clearly coming from just one occupant, only that person may be searched. In the recent 2016 case, State v. Pigford, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held further that if there are passengers in the car, and the odor cannot be localized to just one person, no occupants should be searched.

What about my purse? If they cannot search me, can they search my purse?

It depends where your purse is located in the car. If it is in the trunk, they cannot search your purse without specific probable cause to search the trunk. Even if your purse is in the passenger compartment, you may be able to argue that a search of your purse was not valid, because you did not consent to that search. If the officer claims that they smell raw marijuana, it would be unreasonable for them to search a tiny compartment within your purse where no sample of marijuana large enough could be contained to emanate an odor. This also applies to the smell of burned marijuana. Officers can only search places that could contain what they are looking for. If your purse or wallet are too small to contain the weed or too distant from where they claim to smell marijuana, you may have an argument to prove that the search was unconstitutional.

If you were stopped for a traffic offense, and then charged with possession of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation. Attorney Kristi Haddock and Attorney Wiley Nickel are available by phone at 919-585- 1486. Our office is located in Cary near the intersection of Harrison Avenue and I-40.

 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

New Documentary on North Carolina Medical Marijuana

Recently I sat for an interview for a documentary about medical marijuana in North Carolina. A link to the documentary is below.

In many states marijuana is legal for medicinal uses.  It's legal for recreational purposes in other states.  Unfortunately North Carolina does not allow any use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Having watched my father die of cancer many years ago I can certainly understand how marijuana can have legitimate medical uses.  I encourage anyone interested in this subject to contact their elected state and federal representatives and make your feelings know in an effort to try and get new laws passed allowing for medical use of marijuana.

Just to be clear.  Marijuana is not allowed for medical uses in North Carolina.  If you are in possession of marijuana for any purpose in North Carolina you risk being arrested and prosecuted.

Wiley Nickel

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Back to College and Underage Drinking: Let Us Help Keep Your Record Clean

As students head back to college at NC State, Wake County will see a surge in underage drinking tickets and possession of marijuana charges.

Every year college students fill the parking lot at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh without realizing that alcohol law enforcement agents are working undercover at the tailgate parties. If you are charged with possession/consumption of alcohol while under the age of 21 or possession of marijuana, call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC.

Let us help you save time and money -- we may be able to help you get the charge dismissed and expunged from your record with only one trip to court. Keeping your record clean will be essential as you plan and prepare for life after college.

If you are charged with alcohol or drug possession you may also receive notice of disciplinary action by the NC State Student Conduct Board. We can help you prevent negative consequences such as suspension or expulsion.

Call The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC today for a free consultation with attorneys Kristi Haddock or Wiley Nickel at 919-585-1486, or e-mail Kristi Haddock directly at Kristi@wileynickel.com. Our office is conveniently located near Interstate 40 and Harrison Avenue in Cary, NC. We handle matters throughout Wake County, including in Apex, Raleigh, Holly Springs, and Knightdale. 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

New Rules for Appointment of North Carolina Public Defenders for Class 3 Misdemeanors

As part of the 2013 Appropriations Act, the General Assembly enacted a new punishment scheme for Class 3 misdemeanors, limiting the punishment to a fine for many defendants.  The change applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2013.  Specifically marijuana possession under half an ounce is now a fine only offense for many in North Carolina.

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In addition to changing the punishment for Class 3 misdemeanors, the 2013 Appropriations Act reclassified some Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors as Class 3 misdemeanors and some Class 3 misdemeanors as infractions.  The punishment for offenses reclassified as Class 3 misdemeanors is likewise limited to a fine for many defendants.

The change in punishment for these Class 3 misdemeanors significantly affects the right to appointed counsel because the right to counsel for misdemeanors depends on the allowable punishment.  So if the punishment is only a fine as it now is for most marijuana possession charges and Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) charges those who cannot afford an attorney in North Carolina will no longer be able to have one provided by the courts.

What is the new rule for Class 3 misdemeanor punishments?

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Effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2013, the statute provides: “Unless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the judgment for a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions shall consist only of a fine.”

This change means that all defendants in prior conviction level I (no prior convictions) and some defendants in prior conviction level II (one to four prior criminal convictions) are subject to a fine only for a Class 3 misdemeanor unless another statute provides otherwise for the offense.

What effect does the new rule have on appointment of counsel?

As a result of the change, in many cases the defendant will not have the right to appointed counsel. For misdemeanors, a defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel only if an active or suspended sentence of imprisonment is imposed. The formulation of this right has developed over a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

North Carolina law provides indigent criminal defendants with a slightly broader right to counsel. G.S. 7A-451(a)(1) provides for appointed counsel in “[a]ny case in which imprisonment, or a fine of five hundred dollars . . . or more, is likely to be adjudged.” This provision will not come into play for most Class 3 misdemeanors if the defendant has three or fewer prior convictions: under the new punishment scheme for Class 3 misdemeanors, imprisonment is generally impermissible; and under other structured sentencing rules, the maximum fine is usually limited to $200.

Why did the Legislature make this change?

The goal was to reduce the costs of court appointed counsel and to save the taxpayers money for crimes that generally never received jail time to begin with. The General Assembly reduced the indigent defense budget by $2 million per year in light of the change in the punishment scheme for Class 3 misdemeanors and the reclassification of some misdemeanors (like DWLR) as Class 3 misdemeanors. Since there is no possibility of incarceration, these offenses do not require a court appointed lawyer.

Do these changes apply to juveniles?

No.

What punishments are permissible for a Class 3 misdemeanor?

If a defendant has three or fewer prior convictions, the court may impose a fine or, in the rare instance when a statute specifically authorizes it, a greater punishment. In fine-only cases, the usual structured sentencing rules apply, capping the fine at $200 unless another statute provides for a greater fine.  Among the most commonly-charged Class 3 misdemeanors, only one statute (littering) allows a greater punishment.

If a defendant has four or more prior convictions, the court may impose the usual punishments under structured sentencing, including an active or suspended sentence of imprisonment to the extent permissible. The remainder of the discussion in this part concerns Class 3 misdemeanor cases when the defendant has three or fewer prior convictions.

Is a sentence of active or suspended sentence of imprisonment permissible?

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No. If the defendant has three or fewer prior convictions (and no statute permits otherwise), the court may not impose jail time or a suspended sentence of imprisonment for a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Are court costs permissible?

The imposition of court costs on conviction remains permissible because it is not a criminal punishment. Court costs are not subject to the punishment limitation for Class 3 misdemeanors.

Is a North Carolina sentence of “credit for time served” permissible?

A sentence of credit for time served is likely permissible for a Class 3 misdemeanor because such a sentence imposes no additional punishment than the time already served before conviction; for an in-custody defendant, the sentence actually terminates confinement. Further, to accommodate this practice, North Carolina’s structured sentencing statutes contain an exception for time served for misdemeanors when an active punishment is not otherwise authorized, allowing imposition of a term of imprisonment “equal to or less than the total amount of time the offender has already spent committed to or in confinement . . . as a result of the charge that culminated in the sentence.”

Is a deferred prosecution arrangement permissible?

Yes. Although a defendant who receives a deferred prosecution may be placed on probation, with conditions, the arrangement is not part of a judgment and sentence, which would be deferred per the agreement with the Wake County District Attorney. If the defendant violates the terms of the arrangement, the State may resume the prosecution. If the defendant is later convicted, the court then would have to sentence the defendant with the fine-only restrictions in new G.S. 15A-1340.23(d).

Is the conditional discharge procedure in G.S. 90-96 permissible?

Yes, for reasons similar to the reasons discussed in the preceding question about deferred prosecutions. A defendant who receives a conditional discharge under G.S. 90-96—for example, for a Class 3 misdemeanor possession of marijuana offense—is placed on probation without entry of judgment or sentence. If the defendant violates the terms of the arrangement, the court then would have to impose a sentence consistent with the fine-only provisions in new G.S. 15A-1340.23(d).

How should prior convictions be counted?

Prior convictions should probably be counted according to the usual structured sentencing rules—that is, multiple convictions count as one conviction if from the same session of district court (usually, one day) or the same week of superior court. See G.S. 15A-1340.21(d). The reason is that the new punishment limitation for Class 3 misdemeanors is located in G.S. 15A-1340.23, the statute containing the table of prior conviction levels for misdemeanor sentencing, to which the prior-conviction counting rule in G.S. 15A‐1340.21(d) clearly applies.

Is a waiver of counsel required in Class 3 misdemeanor cases in which a person is subject to a fine only?

No. A waiver of counsel is not required because the person is not entitled to have counsel appointed.

Is a waiver of retained counsel required in such cases?

No. If a defendant does not have a right to appointed counsel, the court need not obtain a waiver of retained counsel.

To obtain a conviction of the Class 1 misdemeanor version of DWLR, must the State allege and prove that the DWLR was based on an impaired driving revocation?

Yes. The General Assembly has created two DWLR offenses: one based on an impaired driving revocation, a Class 1 misdemeanor; and the other based on any other revocation, a Class 3 misdemeanor. Although the two appear in the same statute, G.S. 20-28(a), they are separate offenses. If the State wants to prosecute the Class 1 misdemeanor offense, it must allege in the charging document and prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of the offense, including the impaired driving revocation. If the State of North Carolina fails to allege the impaired driving revocation in the charging document, the court’s jurisdiction is limited to the general Class 3 misdemeanor version of DWLR, which is subject to the fine-only provisions in new G.S. 15A-1340.23(d).

May the court appoint counsel if the defendant is arrested on a Class 3 misdemeanor and cannot make bond?

Yes. Whether detained before trial or after conviction, an inmate has a due process right to meaningful access to the courts.

Is a person statutorily entitled to counsel if he or she is charged with a North Carolina infraction that carries a penalty of $500 or more?

No. The statutory right to counsel applies to criminal cases carrying a fine of $500 or more. An infraction is a noncriminal violation of law. G.S.

Is a person entitled to counsel because of the collateral consequences of a Class 3 misdemeanor?

Under the current state of the law in North Carolina, no. Some state courts have suggested that their state constitutions may require appointment of counsel because of the collateral consequences that attach to a criminal conviction, which can have a serious and longstanding impact

If the court imposes a fine only, may the court impose a sentence of imprisonment for failure to pay that fine?

The law is unsettled on this count.

May a fine be docketed and collected as a civil judgment?

Yes. The Legislature continues to authorize that procedure if the court finds the defendant has defaulted in payment.

Is a person’s license to drive subject to revocation for failing to pay a fine for a motor vehicle offense?

Yes. G.S. 20-24.1 continues to require revocation of a person’s license to drive for failing to pay a fine for a motor vehicle offense.

If the defendant was not afforded counsel when convicted of a fine-only misdemeanor, may the conviction be used to enhance the defendant’s sentence for a later offense?

Yes. An uncounseled misdemeanor conviction, valid because no term of imprisonment was imposed, may later be used to enhance a sentence for a subsequent offense. 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Changes to North Carolina Marijuana Possession Law and Other Misdemeanors - Now a $200 fine for many

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Low Levels Crimes in North Carolina Decriminalized! Change is effective for crimes committed after December 1, 2013.

North Carolina Decriminalizes Low Level Misdemeanors including Marijuana Possession, Driving While License Revoked & Worthless Check charges.

Jail time is now off the table for many low level misdemeanors and a $200 fine is the only punishment available in many cases.  For example a charge of marijuana possession for someone with up to three prior criminal convictions is now punishable by only a fine.

Marijuana Possession Punishment is now just a $200 fine for many!

Effective for all offenses committed on or after December 1, 2013, the General Assembly of North Carolina will “decriminalize” all class three misdemeanors for offenders with no more than three prior criminal convictions.  The new law provides that (unless otherwise noted) the maximum punishment for a person who is convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and who has no more than three prior convictions, shall be a $200 fine.

An attempt by North Carolina to save $$$$ 

This is an attempt to save the state money in court operating costs, payments to court-appointed lawyers, costs to place an offender on probation, and costs to house inmates in local jail facilities.  The goal in enacting this legislation is presumably to keep low-level crimes and low-recidivist criminals out of the jail where local counties generally bear the financial burden of housing them, and order that these convicted offenders pay a fine.  Also, the goal is to not have to pay for the offender’s court appointed counsel, which becomes a state burden.  Court appointed attorneys are mandated if a defendant cannot afford their own attorney and if it is possible that the defendant will face a jail sentence.  This law negates the need for a court appointed attorney for some offenders whom are charged with a class three misdemeanor.

What Crimes Are Included?

Class 3 Misdemeanors are the lowest level of misdemeanors, and, until this new law, were punishable by up to 20 days in jail, and a fine of $200.00.  Typical Class 3 misdemeanors are second degree trespass or possession of less than ½ oz of marijuana.  These are crimes for which judges typically would not punish with jail time, but judges often do place offenders on probation upon conviction for these types of crimes.  Probation costs money to operate as well, and probation officers are often overwhelmed with a caseload full of much more serious offenders to worry about.  If an offender violates probation he or she may be punished with jail time.

How does it work?

Starting soon for cases committed after December 1, 2013 when a defendant goes to a North Carolina court for his first appearance and asks for a court appointed attorney (assuming  a class 3 misdemeanor) the Court will have to make a determination of that defendant’s prior record before knowing if he or she is eligible for a court appointed lawyer. 

Paying a $200 fine can haunt you for the rest of your life!

The problem with this change in the law is that a conviction for a class three misdemeanor can mean more than simply the $200 fine.  Any conviction will stay on your criminal record for a lifetime unless it is expunged and most people will not qualify for an expungement.  A criminal conviction on your record (even for just a class three misdemeanor) can have very serious consequences including loss of employment opportunities, loss of educational opportunities, loss of other benefits and rights.  I’ve had countless people who have called my office because a prior criminal conviction is keeping them from getting a good job.  These effects are life-long effects and can do serious damage to someone’s earning capacity.

Call Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer Wiley Nickel for a Free Consultation

If you find yourself charged with a class three misdemeanor in North Carolina, such as second degree trespass, DWLR, worthless check or possession of less than ½ oz of marijuana, you should still seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer.  Simply pleading guilty and paying a $200 fine can and will have serious effects on you in the years ahead  The effect on your criminal record, potential for work or school, and other considerations, are important to understand. Most importantly, if you are already on probation or have other pending criminal matters you should always consult with an attorney before entering any plea in court.  A $200 fine may feel like just a slap on the wrist today, but the consequences of a conviction will affect you for the rest of your life.

The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel can help!

If you are charged with any crime, please call the Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC today for a free consultation at 919-585-1486.  We handle criminal cases in Wake County North Carolina and are located in Cary, NC.

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Lack of resources at state crime lab causing delays in drug case prosecutions

Another effect of state budget cuts.  See the link below for the story at WRAL.

http://wral.m0bl.net/w/main/story/98124816/

 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

Can Police Search your car only based on the smell of marijuana?

Surprisingly the answer is yes.

In North Carolina many cases hold that the smell of marijuana provides probable cause to search a car.  The courts have rules that “when an officer detects the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, probable cause exists for a warrantless search of the vehicle for marijuana.” 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

New Changes to Misdemeanor Crime Sentences in North Carolina - Penalties will be lowered

The new budget contains provisions that will impact misdemeanor sentencing and the appointment of counsel.  This change will effect thousands of cases each year.

Republican leaders in both chambers have endorsed the bill. The General Assembly is expected to approve it in the next two days, and Governor McCrory is expected to sign it.

Change to Structured Sentencing grid.

 

Section 18B.13.(a) of the budget changes the misdemeanor Structured Sentencing grid as follows, effective for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2013:

 

Many Class 3 misdemeanors will only be punishable by a fine.  The same section states that “[u]nless otherwise provided for a specific offense, the judgment for a person convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions shall consist only of a fine.” Fines for Class 3 misdemeanors generally may not exceed $200. G.S. 15A-1340.23(b).

In addition to changing the punishments for Class 3 misdemeanors, the budget also creates more of them. Section 18B.14 reclassifies a number of misdemeanors – most currently Class 2 – as Class 3 offenses. The new Class 3 misdemeanors include:

» Obtaining property by worthless check, G.S. 14-106

» Simple worthless check, G.S. 14-107

» Failure to return hired property, G.S. 14-167

» Conversion by bailee, G.S. 14-168.1

» Failure to return rental property with purchase option, G.S. 14-168.4

» DWLR, G.S. 20-28 (unless revoked for DWI, then still Class 1)

» Certain motor vehicle misdemeanors that were Class 2 under G.S. 20-35, including: » Most NOLs, G.S. 20-7

» Failure to tell DMV of address change by driver, G.S. 20-7.1

» Allowing vehicle to be driven by unlicensed person, G.S. 20-34

» Certain motor vehicle misdemeanors that were Class 2 under 20-176, including: » Failure to carry registration card in vehicle, G.S. 20-57(c)

» Failure to sign registration card, G.S. 20-57(c)

» Failure to tell DMV of address change by vehicle, G.S. 20-67

» Certain license plate/registration violations, G.S. 20-111

» Window tinting violations, G.S. 20-127(d)

» Misdemeanor speeding, G.S. 20-141(j1)

» No insurance, G.S. 20-313(a)

» Repeat fishing without a license, G.S. 113-135(a) (referring to 113-174.1 and -270.1B)

Also, section 18B.15 of the budget reclassifies a number of boating safety offenses from Class 3 misdemeanors to infractions.

 

A main goal of these provisions was to save money on court appointed counsel for indigent defendants.  The report states that IDS’s budget (the agency that provides money for court appointed lawyers) will be reduced by $2,000,000 annually because the budget “[r]eclassifies low-level misdemeanors that rarely result in incarceration as Class 3 misdemeanors or infractions and modifies the sentencing structure for Class 3 misdemeanors so that the first three charges are fineable offenses. With no possibility of incarceration, these offenses do not require legal counsel.”

The changes made by the budget will provide that a defendant charged only with a Class 3 misdemeanor, and who has no more than three prior convictions, will be facing a potential sentence of a fine of $200 or less. 

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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.

POSSESS MARIJUANA UP TO 1/2 OZ

If you're a first time offender in Wake County there are some great deferral programs if you're charged with "possess marijuana up to 1/2 Oz."  My law firm handles a lot of these cases and can help you evaluate whether or not a deferral program makes sense in your case.  Often you could have some great legal reasons why you're not guilty (i.e. arresting officer did not have probable cause to detain you).  We handle marijuana and other drug cases in Wake County from our office located in Cary.

Comment

Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.