The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett
Phone: 704-899-5574

Mecklenburg County Criminal Defense Law Blog

Can field sobriety tests prove I am drunk?

If you or someone that you know has been arrested and charged with a drunk driving offense, field sobriety tests may have been used during the arrest process. It is important that defendants understand the purpose of these tests and just how accurate - or not - they really are.

Many people incorrectly assume that field sobriety tests are one way that an officer can tell if a person is intoxicated. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, these roadside tests are in no way able to or even designed to do this. Instead, their purpose is to give just enough support to the theory that a person might be drunk so that a police officer may legally place the driver under arrest.

How can I prevent my child from underage drinking?

Receiving an underage drinking charge in North Carolina is a serious issue. Not only can such a charge result in legal trouble, it can also have a lasting impact on many facets of your child’s life. There are steps parents can take to prevent their kids from underage drinking in the first place, as explained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Set a good example

Search warrants: The need for probable cause

Perhaps you committed a minor traffic offense in North Carolina, and an officer pulled over your vehicle. The officer asks you whether you would consent to a search of your car as the officer believes he or she smells marijuana coming from your vehicle. If you refuse, the officer says that the court will implement a warrant to search, but if you consent, you worry you will face charges for possession of marijuana.

Many individuals have questions regarding searches and seizures. The most important aspect of a legal search involves the presence of probable cause. Should an officer believe that you have illegal marijuana in your vehicle due to the smell, this may constitute probably cause to retrieve a search warrant. However, if you believe you have only committed a minor traffic violation and probable cause is not present, you have the authority to refuse a search.

Helping your parent deal with drug charges

Often, when people think of drug charges that can create turmoil in a family, they may think of a parent who is struggling with a drug offense that their teen has been accused of. However, there may be times when an adult child finds themselves in a tough position after their parent has been accused of a drug crime. If you are facing this burden, it is crucial to do everything you can to provide your parent with the support that they need during such a difficult time.

For starters, your parent may benefit from emotional support that you can provide. It could also be helpful for you to go over laws that are related to their case and have a clear understanding of their situation, in order to help them understand their rights and some of the options they may have. You could even benefit from reaching out to a legal expert who has dealt with many of these types of cases.

Knowing when words become threats

Nearly everyone in Charlotte is susceptible to saying something they do not mean in the heat of the moment. This understanding is often expected, which is why many come to us here at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett surprised when their words result in criminal charges. You might utter something while stressed or under some form of duress that is directed at another yet have absolutely no intention of him or her feeling threatened by it. Unfortunately, it is his or her feelings that are often judging when determining if your actions were indeed criminal. 

Section 14-277 of North Carolina's General Statutes shows that words and statements may indeed be unlawful under the following circumstances: 

  • When you threaten to physically injure another person or that person's spouse, child, dependent or sibling, or threaten to damage that person's property
  • That threat is communicated either orally, in writing or via some other means
  • The threat is done in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe it will be carried out
  • The intended target of the threat does actually fear that it will be carried out

Proving criminal intent

Most might assume that proving that a white collar crime was committed would be fairly straightforward; one need only identify scenarios were well-intentioned investors lost a good deal of money due to the promises of the schemer. Yet does the mere fact that you, as one who manages the investments of others in Charlotte, secured investments that ended up losing money mean that you are a criminal? Such is the question that many bring to us here at The Law Office of Kevin L Barnett. Like them, you may be pleased to learn that simply losing your clients' money does not qualify as white collar crime. 

The common assumption that many of those unfamiliar with investments have is that you simply working with securities and commodities guarantees that they will see a positive return on their investments. The truth is that there may be times when investment money is lost due to factors outside of your control. Law enforcement authorities understand this, which is why intent must be linked to any supposed fraud scheme in order for it to be valid. 

Eyewitness testimony is not always accurate

Most people have watched crime shows where the guilty party is picked out of a police lineup by a witness to the crime. The witness’s testimony is used at trial to send the wrongdoer to prison. TV makes it all seem so simple.

However, as is usually the case, real life is more complex. Eyewitness testimony can be a powerful tool for the prosecution. That does not necessarily mean it is always accurate. Witnesses may be suffering from several issues that can call the accuracy of their identification into question. In some cases, witnesses may even be outright lying.

Dealing with lost property in North Carolina

Most in Charlotte may not have any difficulty defining what "theft" is: someone taking something from another. This may be why excuses offered by as to why someone was found to be in possession of another's property are dismissed as being just that. At the same time, however, most have encountered a situation where they have come across something that appears to be lost and taken possession of it. In such a case, they are retaining another's property, yet does keeping a lost item constitute theft

According to information shared by the Cornell Law School, whether or not an item is truly "lost" depends on the circumstances in which it was found. A lost item is something that one would reasonably surmise as having been unintentionally left by its owner. Something intentionally used but then forgotten, however, is classified as "mislaid property." An example of mislaid property might be a wallet left on a bar in a restaurant. Whoever finds it could probably guess that its owner pulled it out to pay his or her tab, but then forgot it. In such a case, one is obliged to leave the wallet with the owner of the establishment given that its owner would likely return there in search of it. 

What to know if your child is accused of a crime

In North Carolina juvenile offenses can have very serious consequences. Juvenile charges will have lasting effects on a child’s academic record as well as adult criminal history, which can result in even more severe offenses down the line. DurhamCountyNC.gov provides parents the following information, which is crucial should their children face criminal charges.

Before Court

Understanding North Carolina’s strict DWI penalties

North Carolina is known across the country as one of the strictest enforcers of DWI penalties. The reason behind this is the sliding penalty scale that has been implemented, which creates a series of levels to determine punishments for intoxicated drivers.

The higher up the scale, the harsher the consequences of a conviction. But what do the penalties of this sliding scale look like?

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The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett
130 North McDowell Street Suite C
Charlotte, NC 28204

Phone: 704-899-5574
Fax: 704-334-2095
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