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Asheville North Carolina Legal Blog

Tougher policing leads to surge in young arrests

A study released recently by the RAND Corporation reveals that the number of young people arrested has surged in recent years, and the researchers behind the study say that more aggressive techniques adopted by law enforcement agencies in North Carolina and around the country are largely responsible. The nonprofit think tank observed a rise in arrests among all demographic groups over the last three decades with particularly steep increases among women and white men.

After studying data on thousands of families compiled by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics over several decades, the researchers concluded that an American currently between the ages of 26 and 35 is about 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested than an American over 66 years of age. The study also reveals that the rate at which white men are arrested has almost tripled in just a few decades, and the chances of a woman being arrested before reaching the age of 26 has risen from about 1 percent to more than 14 percent.

Study finds opioids linked with some 2-car crashes

Drivers who caused deadly two-vehicle accidents in North Carolina and around the country were much more likely to test positive for opioid prescription painkillers than drivers who did not cause the crash, according to a study. The research was published in JAMA Network Open in February.

For the study, researchers examined crash data from 18,321 fatal two-vehicle accidents in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is compiled by a division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They found that "failure to keep in lane" was the most common cause of the accidents, accounting for 7,535 of the crashes studied. Of the drivers who were blamed for the crashes, 918 tested positive for opioids. Of the drivers who did not cause the accidents, only 549 had opioids in their system.

Why embezzlement is more frequent at small businesses

Embezzlement can rock a company to its core. Often, the largest sums of money stolen from companies are taken by those in positions of authority. When a company loses money at the hands of its leaders, not only are investors and board members affected but rank-and-file employees quickly lose faith in the company as well.

The effect can be much more traumatizing at a small company. That’s why a recent study was so shocking: It found that more than 80 percent of embezzlement thefts occurred at companies with fewer than 150 employees, and nearly 50 percent occurred at companies with fewer than 25 employees.

Drug trafficking convictions come with hefty sentences

The effect of a drug trafficking conviction can be particularly significant for people in North Carolina. It may not be immediately clear where the line is drawn between possession, distribution and trafficking charges. While some may think that people need to be involved in moving massive quantities of drugs or cross-border smuggling to face trafficking charges, this is not necessarily the case. Trafficking charges can relate to all types of controlled substances, from marijuana to synthetic cannabinoid products to MDMA, methamphetamine or cocaine.

People convicted of drug trafficking are not sentenced using North Carolina's regular grid. Instead, they face higher, expanded sentences and hefty fines, even if the charge is their first conviction. Unlike other drug offenses, people convicted on trafficking charges cannot be sentenced to probation in most cases. The only exception is made for people who provided substantial assistance to the state in prosecuting other people. In addition, unless a trafficking charge is tried at the same time as other offenses, sentences must be served consecutively rather than concurrently.

Riskier ways of using phones raise driver distraction levels

Distracted driving is a widespread issue in North Carolina, and phone use is one of the largest factors. However, some ways of using a handheld phone are riskier than others. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just released a study comparing observational survey data from 2014 and 2018. It found that while distracted driving rates have not drastically changed, the level of distraction is getting worse.

The observational surveys focused on drivers in four Northern Virginia communities as they approached or stopped at red lights. Drivers were 57 percent more likely to use their phones for activities besides talking such as texting and sending emails. These are more dangerous than holding and talking on a phone because they take a driver's eyes completely off the road.

Most cases tried in America involve misdemeanors

According to data from the FBI, cases involving misdemeanor charges account for 80 percent of criminal dockets in America. There are about 13 million misdemeanor cases annually in North Carolina and throughout the country. Such a large caseload may result in individuals not getting the outcomes that they may deserve. This is because public defenders may lack the time and other resources to give a defendant the zealous defense to which he or she is entitled.

There tends to be a racial element at play when it comes to how cases are resolved. White Americans charged with a misdemeanor are 75 percent more likely to avoid going to jail or prison compared to black Americans. In some cases, an inability to pay fines, court costs or other fees could lead to spending time on probation or even in jail. In some cases, individuals are charged a fee while in jail as well as to apply for a public defender.

Some truck drivers dangerously fighting fatigue with stimulants

Because of the massive weight of trucks, victims of accidents involving these vehicles in North Carolina are often drivers of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or other individuals who may be in the path of a collision. An increasing number of drivers are on long hauls at all hours of the day and night. This in and of itself presents possible hazard risks. An added danger is driver fatigue related to efforts to meet tight deadlines and delivery obligations.

According to available statistics, it's long-haul trips of 51 miles or more that account for the bulk of trucking accidents. The risk of personal injury is further increased when drivers turn to stimulants to remain awake behind the wheel. While some truck drivers consider the use of these substances to be a viable solution to help with alertness, the reality is that drugs with stimulating effects boost the risk of accidents and fatalities occurring. In fact, drivers under the influence of stimulants actually have higher driving infraction rates. This is largely because of side effects with these drugs that tend to lead to reduced attention spans and poor focus and decision-making abilities.

Several North Carolina residents sentenced in heroin ring

On December 17, several North Carolina residents were sentenced for their participation in a heroin and marijuana ring operating out of Craven County. The defendants were arrested following a multi-year investigation by federal, state and local authorities.

According to the United States Attorney's Office, the investigation focused on a drug trafficking ring run by two New Bern men, ages 34 and 36. The men had apparently been ordering large amounts of heroin from New York and having is transported down to North Carolina for several years. The heroin was then distributed for sale to multiple mid- and low-level drug dealers in the New Bern area.

How can underage drinking affect your child?

North Carolina is strict on underage drinking compared to some states. If your child is charged with underage drinking, you may be wondering what could happen and how might it affect your child’s future. You don’t want one mistake to ruin your child’s future. Here are a few facts you should know about underage drinking:

Reducing winter driving risks in North Carolina

Blizzard-like and icy conditions sometimes take North Carolina drivers by surprise during the late fall and winter months. But new safety technologies, such as traction control capabilities, that are used properly, and some commonsense precautions may reduce driving and accident risks in inclement weather. This is why the National Safety Council is making an effort to educate drivers by stressing the importance of being as prepared as possible when getting behind the wheel in winter.

Checking the forecast before driving and properly warming up vehicles are some of the steps the NSC recommends. The most effective way to avoid car accidents is if drivers simply stay put when dicey driving conditions are expected. if this isn't possible, the NSC advises that motorists inform a friend or loved one of their intended destinations and expected arrival time before leaving. In the event that a driver is stranded, the nonprofit group recommends he or she check the exhaust pipe for blockage and light emergency flares near the vehicle.

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