Joshua Wilson had just pulled his truck out of the driveway of a residence in Burlington when he saw a police car parked in the road in front of him. A uniformed officer had gotten out of the car and was walking toward the residence. When the officer saw Wilson, he waived his hands back and forth in the air to tell Wilson to stop his car. Wilson stopped. The officer approached the truck on the driver’s side. The window was down, and he smelled the odor of alcohol. Wilson was arrested shortly thereafter for driving while impaired. The question on appeal was whether he was seized by the officer when he stopped his truck.
The court of appeals held yesterday in State v. Turner, __ N.C. App. ___ (2016), that the issuance of a magistrate’s order charging a defendant with driving while impaired did not toll the two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors. Because the defendant was not tried within two years of the offense, the appellate court ruled that the trial court properly dismissed the charges. This opinion is as big as surprise to criminal procedure experts as the outcome of last month’s presidential election was to pollsters. Does it mean that district courts must dismiss charges for misdemeanor offenses that occurred more than two years ago?
Five years ago, my husband “gave” me a minivan for Christmas. Sure, it was fun to find the keys in my stocking and to put one of the children in the third row seat on the way to grandma’s, forcing him to stretch to touch his siblings. But it wasn’t all fun and games. On the way back from my in-laws’ house, I sheepishly asked: So, how much are the payments? Gulp. And then there is that pesky December registration renewal, which increases my already out-sized December expenditures and adds to my long year-end “to do” list. On top of that, my registration renewal wound up costing me an extra $8 last year. Read on to learn more about my total bill and how you can avoid the new late fee for registration renewals. Continue reading →
Today’s post is the last for the week since the School of Government is closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. In honor of the occasion, I want to recognize five criminal-law-related institutions, programs, and people for which I am particularly grateful. Continue reading →
A case involving charges of impaired driving is calendared on today’s district court docket. The defendant was charged more than two years ago; the case has been continued several times pursuant to motions made by the defendant and the State. When this case last appeared on the docket, the State moved for a continuance, and the defendant objected. The district court granted the State’s motion, but ordered that it be the last continuance for the State. Earlier this morning, the State again moved to continue the case. The district court denied the State’s motion, and directed the State to call the case or dismiss the charges. The State refused to take either action. What can the judge do?
Wow. That was a surprise. Donald Trump has been elected to serve as the nation’s 45th president, defying the outcome nearly all the experts predicted, in what The Washington Post called a “shocking ending” to a “traumatic campaign.”
President-elect Trump carried North Carolina by 3.8 percentage points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That’s an impressive margin for a state that Republican nominee Mitt Romney carried by 2.2 percent over President Obama in 2012, and which Obama won by less than a percentage point in 2008.
What impact will a Trump presidency have on the legal issues discussed in this blog? Continue reading →
Two vehicles, one traveling east and the other traveling south, arrive at approximately the same time at an intersection that is not marked by traffic signs or lights. Which vehicle may enter the intersection first?
A defendant charged in district court with the misdemeanor crime of driving while impaired cannot ascertain from the charging document whether he is subject to sentencing at Level A1 (the most serious level) or Level 5 (the least serious). That’s because the aggravating factors that lead to elevated sentencing aren’t considered elements of the offense and thus are not required to be alleged in the charging instrument. Yet because those factors can increase the maximum punishment a defendant may receive, they must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and, with the exception of prior convictions, be determined by a jury in superior court. And, for most charges of impaired driving prosecuted in superior court, the State must provide notice of its intent to seek aggravating factors. A case decided by the court of appeals last June, however, identifies an exception to this requirement for certain aggravating factors in driving while impaired prosecutions initiated in superior court.
Last week, I was driving with my 14-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend in the car. My son criticized me for not turning left out of parking lot when, according to he-who-has-never-driven, I had “plenty of time” to do so. His friend, who recently got his learner’s permit, piped up and said, “Driving is not as easy as it looks.” You can say that again, friend.
Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported an estimated 10 percent increase in traffic fatalities for the first six months of 2016. NHTSA’s report was based on a statistical projection using data gathered, some of it in real time, from all 50 states. The increase is part of a trend. NHTSA reports that the second quarter of 2016 is “the seventh consecutive quarter with increases in fatalities as compared to corresponding quarters in previous years.” NHTSA said it was too early to identify a cause for the most recent uptick, but that hasn’t prevented safety advocates from working toward a solution.