A recent article by asset forfeiture defense lawyer Elliot Abrams was featured in The Champion, a magazine published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan attorney Ashley L. Oldham was recently recognized as a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law by the North Carolina State Bar . Ms. Oldham concentrates her legal practice in the areas of property division, custody, support and all aspects of military divorce. Her regular practice includes practice in Wake, Cumberland, Harnett, Moore, Chatham, Orange, Durham and Johnston County.
Ms. Oldham is also a member of the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and has taught various continuing legal education courses for the North Carolina Bar Association, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the American Bar Association. The North Carolina State Bar, an agency of the State of North Carolina, certifies lawyers as specialists in designated practice areas as a service to the public. The program assists members of the public in the selection of legal counsel by identifying lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in certain areas of law. The program also gives lawyers a credible way of making their expertise known to the public and other lawyers.
A Change in Military Pension Division: The End of Court-Adjudicated Indemnification – Howell v. Howell
2018 A Change in Military Pension Division: The End of Court-Adjudicated Indemnification – Howell v. Howell by Eliza Grace Lynch
We are excited to announce that Brentley Tanner is joining the Cheshire Parker Family Law section as a partner. He adds an expertise in military law and brings with him two fabulous associates, Ashley Oldham and Kaitlin Kober, and paralegals, Amber Caling and Eliza Lynch. We are thrilled to expand our practice statewide. As part of our growing practice, we have also opened a satellite office in Holly Springs.
Cheshire Parker Family Law is pleased to announce that Family Law attorney Kimberly Bryan has been certified by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers as a Certified Family Law Arbitrator. The AAML is the only organization in the country that trains matrimonial attorneys to arbitrate the unique issues that arise in family law. Kimberly can arbitrate limited issues along with complex matters needing several days.
Searches, Tests and Interrogations: Understanding Your Rights (and Obligations) After an NC Drunk Driving Arrest
When you get pulled over by the police, understanding your legal rights (and your legal obligations) can be critical to minimizing the consequences of your traffic stop. If the police meet their obligations, any information your supply voluntarily can be used against you – even if you mistakenly believed that you were required to answer the officer’s questions or submit to a search – and this can lead to a conviction with steep penalties and long-term ramifications.
On the other hand, if you fail to comply with the law during your traffic stop (for example, by refusing a breath test), this can lead to additional charges and additional penalties. So, what do you need to know when you get pulled over for drunk driving in North Carolina? Here is a brief summary of the laws that apply:
1. Searches and Seizures
The police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, and they cannot arrest you without probable cause. If the police pulled you over without justification, this could be grounds to have any evidence obtained as a result of your traffic stop excluded from your trial. Likewise, if the police arrested you without probable cause, any evidence flowing from your arrest may be inadmissible in court.
This “probable cause” standard applies to searches during DUI/DWI traffic stops as well. If the police have probable cause to believe that you were drinking and driving, they can conduct a search of your vehicle and your person without violating your Fourth Amendment rights. The Constitutional search and seizure principles that apply to traffic stops are far more complicated than most people realize; and, even if you were drinking and driving, a violation of your Constitutional rights could still protect you from a DUI/DWI conviction.
2. Breath Tests
Under North Carolina’s “implied consent” law, when the police stop you on suspicion of drunk driving, you are obligated to submit to a breath test. If you refuse to take the Breathalyzer, the prosecution can use your refusal against you (to establish a “negative inference” that you knew you were impaired), and you can face an additional charge for your implied consent violation.
3. Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
Unlike the Breathalyzer, you are not required to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs) during a DUI/DWI traffic stop. If the officer who pulled you over asks you to perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand test, you are well within your rights to politely refuse.
Once you have been arrested, the police are required to read you your rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney. However, while you do not have to answer any questions, this doesn’t mean that the police aren’t going to ask. To avoid saying anything that the prosecutor’s office can use against you, it is important that you exercise your right to legal representation promptly after your arrest.
Speak with a Raleigh DWI Lawyer in Confidence
If you are facing DUI/DWI charges in Raleigh, our attorneys can protect your rights and help you fight to avoid a conviction at trial. To get started with a confidential consultation, please call (919) 833-3114 or send us your contact information today.
A recent victory by Raleigh white collar criminal defense lawyer Elliot Abrams in an asset forfeiture case was the subject of a front page article in NC Lawyers Weekly last month.
As Elliot Abrams and his co-counsel Samuel Hartzell told Lawyers Weekly, “Th[e] ruling will protect innocent people and businesses and is a strong step toward restoring the balance of power between
the government and the accused.”
The decision was issued by the entire Fourth Circuit sitting en banc. (Full text of opinion). It overruled decades’ old precedent that allowed the government to seize assets from individuals even though the government acknowledged that those assets were not earned illegally.
As the government’s response to the opioid epidemic continues to make national headlines, law enforcement authorities in North Carolina are taking aggressive action to combat the over-prescription and diversion of opioid medications within the state’s borders. In addition to the federal Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit created by the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year, over the summer, Governor Roy Cooper announced a new statewide Opioid Action Plan that will focus on combatting the rising number of annual opioid-related fatalities in North Carolina.
According to a press release from the Office of the Governor:
“Opioid overdose has claimed more than 12,000 lives in North Carolina since 1999, with opioid-related overdoses deaths up more than 800 percent in the state through 2016. Gov. Cooper today joined Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., to announce a plan to fight opioid abuse and overdose deaths. The plan is the product of input from many partners and sets strategies to reduce the number of deaths and measure progress.”
North Carolina’s New Opioid Action Plan
North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan includes measures that are focused on treatment and community awareness as well as those that are focused on law enforcement. As outlined on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ website, some of the key strategies that the state will be using to combat opioid fraud and abuse include:
- Coordinating the state’s infrastructure to tackle the opioid crisis.
- Reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids.
- Reducing the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs.
Over the next five years, the State’s goal is to reduce the number of unintentional opioid-related deaths and opioid emergency room visits by 20 percent, and to spur a decreasing trend in:
- The total number of opioid pills dispensed,
- The number of patients who receive opioid prescriptions from multiple providers, and
- The number of patients who receive at least one opioid and one benzodiazepine prescription in the same day.
What the Opioid Action Plan Means for Healthcare Providers in North Carolina
From Medicare audits to state and federal law enforcement initiatives, healthcare providers in North Carolina are already subject to intense scrutiny with respect to their prescription and billing practices. With the current national focus on combatting the effects of overdose and illegal use of opioid medications, healthcare providers who prescribe and dispense opioid medications need to be cognizant of the risks of facing a law enforcement investigation, and they must be prepared to demonstrate their compliance with the law in the event of a state or federal inquiry. The law imposes both civil and criminal penalties for Medicare fraud and prescription drug-related offenses; and, with penalties including fines, recoupments, treble damages, program exclusion and even incarceration, providers who are facing audits and investigations for opioid-related issues need to take their circumstances extremely seriously.
Speak with a Raleigh Drug Crime Lawyer in Confidence
Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC is a Raleigh law firm that represents healthcare providers and other clients in state and federal criminal matters. If your business or practice is under investigation for prescription drug fraud or any other opioid-related offense, we encourage you to call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online promptly for a confidential consultation.
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would be implementing a new pilot program designed to target fraud and abuse involving prescription opioid medications. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will initially target twelve regions around the country, including Central North Carolina.
According to a press release issued by the DOJ:
“[T]he new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will focus specifically on opioid-related health care fraud using data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to this prescription opioid epidemic. . . . [The DOJ] will fund twelve experienced Assistant United States Attorneys for a three year term to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting health care fraud related to prescription opioids, including pill mill schemes and pharmacies that unlawfully divert or dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes.”
Federal Health Care Fraud and Opioid Prescriptions
Also according to the press release, the DOJ intends to target two specific forms of prescription drug fraud involving opioid medications: (i) physicians issuing illegal opioid prescriptions for profit, and (ii) pharmacists dispensing opioid medications pursuant to fraudulent prescriptions. The prosecutors on the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will be relying data analytics and working with agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and local law enforcement to identify targets for investigation. Healthcare providers and pharmacists found responsible for illegally distributing opioid medications can face severe civil and criminal penalties, including: fines, damages, loss of government program eligibility, and even federal incarceration.
Some of the most-commonly-prescribed opioid medications include:
Factors the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will consider in deciding whether to prosecute providers include: “which physicians are writing opioid prescriptions at a rate that far exceeds their peers; how many of a doctor’s patients died within 60 days of an opioid prescription; the average age of the patients receiving these prescriptions; pharmacies that are dispensing disproportionately large amounts of opioids; and regional hot spots for opioid issues.”
Federal Efforts to Be Supplemented by New North Carolina Prescription Pain Killer Law
In June, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act (the “STOP Act”) into law. The STOP Act establishes new limits on opioid prescriptions and enhances the reporting requirements for physicians who prescribe opioids in the state. The law also creates new obligations for pharmacies, hospices and other providers, and imposes civil penalties for certain reporting violations. In addition, physicians can risk losing their medical licenses if they fail to report violations of the new law.
Contact Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC
The health care fraud and drug crime attorneys at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC provide experienced legal representation for providers facing audits, investigations and prosecution. If your business or practice is being targeted by state or federal law enforcement, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer in our Raleigh, NC offices today.
Each quarter, the North Carolina State Bar (“NC Bar”) publishes its most-recent disciplinary actions against attorneys licensed in the state. Here is a summary of some of the most noteworthy actions from Spring 2017:
The NC Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) disbarred four attorneys during the quarter. Three of the disbarments were based, at least in part, on misappropriation of clients’ entrusted funds. All three of the disbarred attorneys had been in practice for at least 30 years. In one case, the attorney had misappropriated well in excess of $80,000 from multiple clients. In the other two, the misappropriated amounts were smaller, but the attorneys were also found to have mismanaged and misrepresented the handling of their client trust accounts, including intentionally misidentifying the source of trust funds.
In the fourth disbarment action, the attorney consented to resignation of his law license while facing an investigation for sending sexually-suggestive emails and engaging in sexual relations with immigration clients who were “especially vulnerable.”
Ten North Carolina-barred attorneys received suspensions and stayed suspensions from the DHC during the spring. The grounds for suspension included:
- Failing to maintain client communications and participate in the NC Bar’s fee dispute resolution program.
- Failing to perform quarterly trust account reconciliations, failing to return funds mistakenly wired from an unknown source, and improperly disbursing client deposits held in trust.
- Submitting a document bearing a false signature to the NC Bar’s Grievance Committee.
- Failing to communicate with clients and making inaccurate statements to a client about work purportedly performed.
- Failing to adequately supervise the attorney’s assistant (who misappropriated clients’ trust deposits) and adequately monitor the firm’s trust account.
- Practicing law on a suspended license and neglecting a client’s case.
- Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by making “frivolous claims and misleading statements” during the representation of criminal defendants. The misleading statements included falsely telling one Assistant District Attorney (ADA) that another had promised amnesty for crimes committed prior to the subject offense, and “impl[ying] to the court that [the ADA] had agreed not to prosecute [her client]” for earlier offenses.
3. Censures and Reprimands
Six attorneys received censures and/or reprimands during the quarter. The grounds for discipline included making misrepresentations to the court, practicing on a suspended license, failing to take action as appointed appellate counsel for indigent clients, charging excessive fees, failing to communicate with clients, failing to make timely filings on behalf of clients, and failure to timely comply with the Grievance Committee’s requests.
Representation for Attorneys Facing Disciplinary Action in Raleigh, NC
The lawyers in Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s professional license defense practice represent attorneys who are facing disciplinary action by the NC Bar. If you have received a Letter of Notice from the Grievance Committee, we can help you assess your situation and seek to protect your license. To speak with an attorney at our Raleigh, NC offices in confidence, please call (919) 833-3114 or inquire online today.