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More Potential Defenses to a North Carolina DWI

If you are facing driving while impaired (DWI) charges in North Carolina, there are several potential defenses that an attorney may be able to use in order to either (i) seek a reduced charge or sentence, or (ii) help you avoid a conviction entirely. We recently discussed three of these potential defenses on our blog:

This article covers three more potential defense strategies for individuals charged with DWI:

Three Possible Defense Strategies for Individuals Charged with DWI in North Carolina

1. Suppress Irrelevant or Prejudicial Evidence

As a general rule, prosecutors can only present “relevant” evidence when seeking to obtain a conviction at trial. While this may seem like a straightforward issue, it often isn’t, and in many cases there can be a serious question as to whether the State should or should not be able to use its evidence against you.

There is a similar issue regarding evidence that is considered unfairly “prejudicial.” In short, even relevant evidence can – and should – be suppressed if it unfairly suggests an improper basis for returning a guilty verdict. Depending on the circumstances involved in a particular case, examples of irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial evidence may include:

2. Question the Arresting Officer

As the defendant in a DWI case, you have the right to question the officer who arrested you, and there are a number of important reasons to do so. In a typical DWI case, the arresting officer is the State’s key witness, and challenging the officer’s credibility or poking holes in the officer’s police report can be crucial to mounting a successful defense.

For example, some of the issues your attorney can address when questioning the arresting officer include:

3. Research and Present Exculpatory Evidence

Finally, in many cases, there will be evidence that DWI defendants can use in their favor. If there is evidence demonstrating that you should not be found guilty of DWI, your attorney may be able to use this “exculpatory evidence” to overcome any damaging evidence that the prosecutor presents in court.

Additionally, prosecutors owe a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence in their possession to the defendant. If the prosecutor in your case fails to disclose exculpatory evidence (commonly known as a “Brady violation”), this can be grounds to seek dismissal of your DWI.

Are You Facing DWI Charges in Raleigh? Schedule a Consultation Today

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s defense lawyers provide experienced representation for individuals charged with DWI in the Raleigh area. For more information about the defenses you may have available, call a Raleigh DWI lawyer today at (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

 

Summary of Recent Disciplinary Actions by the NC Bar

Each quarter, the North Carolina State Bar (“NC Bar”) updates its website to include summaries and links to the most-recent disciplinary actions involving North Carolina-barred attorneys. These updates should be of interest to all practicing attorneys in North Carolina, not only as a reminder of the wide range of unprofessional (or illegal) conduct that can lead to discipline, but also for purposes of analyzing the varying degrees of discipline that the NC Bar can impose depending upon the specific circumstances involved.

For example, as you’ll see below, three of the four most-recent disbarments were the result of misappropriation of trust funds – in amounts ranging from $3,000 to over $110,000. However, another attorney who failed to maintain and properly disburse trust funds to clients received only a three-year stayed suspension. Needless to say, the NC Bar takes all allegations of unprofessional conduct extremely seriously, and any attorney who receives a Letter of Notice from the bar must take timely and appropriate action in order to protect his or her license.

Three Attorneys Disbarred in June and July for Misappropriating Client Funds

In unrelated disciplinary matters, three North Carolina attorneys lost their licenses this summer for misappropriating funds from their client trust accounts. While two of the disciplinary actions involved misappropriation of funds “totaling at least $100,000,” in the third action the attorney consented to disbarment after admitting to misappropriation of just over $3,000.

Suspensions and Stayed Suspensions

An attorney who had been licensed in North Carolina for nearly 20 years consented to a five-year suspension for mismanaging his client trust account (including unintentionally misappropriating funds) and “neglect[ing] multiple clients.” The specific findings of fact in the Consent Order included:

Following a June hearing before the NC Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC), a criminal attorney received a three-year license suspension as a result of, among other things: deposing multiple State’s witnesses without notifying the District Attorney’s Office, attempting to misrepresent a client’s spouse as his “assistant” in order to conduct an after-hours penitentiary visit, and obtaining a fraudulent notarization on a Power of Attorney he obtained from one of his clients.

Finally, an attorney licensed for decades received a three-year stayed suspension (subject to compliance with various conditions) following a DHC hearing in April during which it was found that the attorney had, among other things:

Of note, the DHC acknowledged that the attorney (i) suffered from a medical condition which caused her to wind down her practice, and (ii) had closed her client trust account subsequent to the violations.

Speak with a Raleigh Professional License Defense Attorney at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s professional ethics and licensing defense section represents attorneys facing disciplinary action throughout North Carolina. If you need to speak with an attorney about protecting your license, call (919) 833-3114 or request a consultation online today.

 

I Received a Letter of Notice From the NC Bar Grievance Committee – What Now?

If you have received a Letter of Notice from the Grievance Committee of the North Carolina State Bar, you need to take it seriously. Even if you believe that the allegations contained in the letter are unfounded, you have a professional obligation to respond, and failure to respond is itself grounds for discipline under the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC).

However, absent a failure to respond, receiving a Letter of Notice is not necessarily a precursor to facing discipline from the Grievance Committee or a referral to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC). Many client grievances are unfounded, and in many cases attorneys will have sound defenses to what would otherwise be discipline-worthy allegations.

What is a Letter of Notice?

A Letter of Notice is exactly what it says it is – a letter that puts you on notice that a client has filed a grievance against you. It does not reflect the position of the Grievance Committee (other than its determination that the allegations, if proven, would constitute a violation of the RPC), and it does not mean that any disciplinary action is being taken against you. The Letter of Notice, essentially, is your opportunity to respond to the allegations before they go to the Grievance Committee for a determination of misconduct.

Responding to a Letter of Notice

You have fifteen days from the date of service to respond to a Letter of Notice. The response should contain, “a full and fair disclosure of all facts and circumstances pertaining to the alleged misconduct,” including copies of all relevant documents from the client’s file. If you need more than fifteen days (as is typically the case), you can request an extension, and as noted on the State Bar’s website, “extensions of time to respond are regularly granted.”

You are, of course, entitled to representation throughout the disciplinary process, and it will typically be in your best interests to hire an attorney who regularly practices in professional license defense. The more apt your response to the Letter of Notice, the greater your chances of securing a favorable resolution prior to full consideration by the Grievance Committee. If your response is incomplete, appears evasive, or raises more questions than it answers, the Grievance Committee is more likely to find probable cause to consider the grievance – and possibly open an investigation.

Potential Discipline Following a Letter of Notice

Upon considering a client’s grievance and the attorney’s response, the Grievance Committee can take a number of different actions. These include:

Contact a Raleigh Professional License Defense Attorney at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC

The attorneys in our professional ethics and licensing defense section regularly represent other lawyers in North Carolina who have received Letters of Notice from the State Bar’s Grievance Committee. To discuss your response in confidence, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online today.

 

Should You Hire a New Lawyer for Your Criminal Appeal?

If you were convicted at trial, this does not necessarily mean that your case is over. You could have grounds to file an appeal; and, if you do, it is important that you hire a lawyer to help you enforce your legal and Constitutional rights.

But, this raises an important question: Should you keep going with your trial counsel, or should you hire a new lawyer for your criminal appeal?

Why You May Want to Retain Your Trial Counsel

In certain circumstances, it will make the most sense for the lawyer who represented you at trial to represent you during your appeal. For example, this may be your best option if:

Why You May Want to Hire a New Lawyer for Your Appeal

However, in some cases, hiring a new appellate lawyer will be your best (and possibly your only) option. Some of the reasons to seek new representation for your criminal appeal include:

Discuss Your Case With a Raleigh Criminal Appeal Attorney Today

If you were convicted of a crime in North Carolina and would like more information about your right to appeal, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation. We can fully explore your grounds for appeal, and we can help you decide whether it makes sense to retain your trial counsel or hire a new appellate attorney. To discuss your case in confidence with an appeals lawyer at our offices in Raleigh, NC, please call (919) 833-3114 or request an appointment online today.

 

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Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC 133 Fayetteville Street Suite 500 Raleigh, NC 27601 | Phone: (919) 833-3114 Fax: (919) 832-0739