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Archive for April 2016

A Warrant for your DWI Blood

Sec. 20-16.2(b) purportedly allowed an officer to obtain blood from an unconscious person without the requirement that the officer first get a warrant. That provision was struck down last week in State v. Romano, in which an officer obtained excess blood drawn from a patient/DWI suspect at the hospital without having first gotten a warrant.…

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Criminalizing the Invocation of your Fourth Amendment Rights

North Carolina, like many states, has implied consent laws that penalize people for refusing to blow into a machine upon request from a police officer who suspects they may have been driving while impaired. In North Carolina, the penalty is a civil penalty – a person’s license will be revoked for one year even though…

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A Rant: The Problem(s) with the Federal Criminal System

After a frustrating week, I’m going to lay it out for you about how our federal criminal justice system is, in particular, screwed up: Overbroad federal criminal statutes create ambiguity about what is a crime. Federal statutes have what I call “generational” sentencing ranges. 0 to 25, 5 to 40, 0 to 10 or 15…

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Duress and DWIs in North Carolina

For hundreds of years, American and, before that, English law has recognized the defense of duress (also called, coercion, or necessity). A duress defense is an affirmative defense. Usually the defendant acknowledges that a crime was committed, but asserts that there was a justification to commit the crime. Unlike an excuse – say, for instance,…

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