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Wilmington Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Law Blog

Drug offenses: many factors can weigh in on charging, outcomes

Many of our readers in North Carolina and elsewhere might reasonably view that some criminal offenses, even if construed with utmost seriousness by state law enforcers and prosecuted with vigor by state lawyers, should result in relatively minor penalties.

It is not hard to quickly conjure up some representative possibilities. A first-time shoplifting offense of a single low-valued item, for example. A curfew violation involving a juvenile. Perhaps an arrest on a marijuana possession charge involving a small amount of pot that a first-time offender intended only for personal use.

Criminal justice reform: something almost everyone agrees upon

In a national capital where the only thing that legislators on opposite sides of the political aisle can seemingly agree upon is to disagree, is there any issue -- anything at all -- upon which discord can be muted and amity might prevail?

Indeed, there is, and that bipartisanship agreement on the subject could ever emerge at all would have been virtually inconceivable even a short time ago.

Mandatory minimum sentencing: high costs, indeed

Reference is often made to the high and multi-sourced costs related to federal criminal sentencing policies, particularly so-called "mandatory minimum" outcomes that often send convicted persons to prison for exceedingly long periods.

Most people who pay attention to criminal law reform issues -- including, certainly, the majority of our readers -- are well familiar with this central complaint of mandatory minimum critics: the sentencing decisions that lock away convicted defendants for decades -- even life terms -- are often visited upon nonviolent and even first-time drug offenders. Moreover, it is notable that many of those persons were charged with marijuana-related crimes, despite evidence showing an increasing desire among many Americans nationally to decriminalize marijuana offenses -- or to simply legalize the use of recreational pot.

Driver vigilance is the byword during DWI traffic campaigns

Nationwide, traffic safety regulators and law enforcers are fond of themed roadway programs that often contain snappy and memorable titles to keep them in the public eye.

Like "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," for example. Or "Click It or Ticket." Some of our readers are likely familiar with "Booze It & Lose It."

If passed, North Carolina bill would allow for GPS monitoring

Domestic violence is at once a sobering and disturbing subject, given its emotive aspects and sometimes explosive repercussions. Human beings are centrally involved and, when things get out of control, truly adverse consequences can result.

Violence victims have often lamented the limited scope of effectiveness inherent in a protective order mandating that an offender -- or person deemed likely by a court to act out in violent fashion -- keep a specified distance away from a would-be victim. When emotions run high, logic and due respect for legal prohibitions can erode in a hurry, with such orders being ignored.

So many laws, so many crimes, Part 2: Anyone might be charged

Well-known political columnist George Will contends that an important element of American jurisprudence -- namely, the idea that a person should face criminal sanctions only if he or she has engaged in inherently wrongful conduct or behavior known to be illegal -- is being materially undermined, if not outright diluted.

As to why, Will points immediately to the approximately 4,500 criminal statutes -- and that's just from the federal play book -- that have statutorily brought into being criminal offenses and corresponding penalties. In a recent opinion article, he calls many of them "arcane" and says that, cumulatively, they have engendered an "overcriminalization of American life."

Opinion: With so many new laws, any person might end up in prison

If, perchance, you're looking for an arcane legal term to add to your personal lexicon or to simply brighten up your day, here's one: mens rea.

When a prosecutor or defense attorney says those words, he or she is referring to the state of mind of a person being accused of criminal activity.

President wields clemency power in drug cases

On the one hand, releasing 22 drug offenders from federal prison might strike many people as being nothing more than a symbolic act, given the scores of thousands of Americans currently housed behind bars on drug-related convictions.

On the other hand, though, President Obama's recent exercise of his commutation power to cut short the sentences of those inmates and free them is certainly anything but symbolic to those individuals.

2 workers die in unprotected trench

North Carolina residents might be interested to learn about the results of an investigation into the deaths of two workers that was recently completed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. After its review of a fatal trench cave-in, OSHA found a New Jersey landscaping company guilty of willfully disregarding the safety of its workers. The company was cited for one willful safety violation and nine serious safety violations and fined $77,000 as a result of the fatal workplace accident.

The OSHA investigation was launched on Oct. 1, 2014 after two men died while working for Bednar Landscape Services Inc. in New Jersey. At the time, the workers were in the process of installing a French drain system at James Dixon Farm in Boonton. The men died when the unprotected trench that they were working in collapsed.

Should you have an attorney's number on your refrigerator door?

If you're the parent of a teenager in North Carolina or elsewhere, you've likely lain in bed more than a few times late at night unable to sleep, with eyes wide open and vividly imagining various scenarios in which your child is facing some challenge or trouble.

That's parenthood. Where our children are concerned, we simply worry sometimes when they're out with the car, at a party, on a road trip, off to college and so forth.