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Attorney Carilyn Ibsen's Blog

about Criminal Defense in North Carolina and South Carolina


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Communicating Threats & Marijuana Possession-The Law Catches Up

An article this morning in the Observer reminded me how the  law is consistently challenged with keeping up with technology and science.  When the Internet became a main source of communications in the 90's, laws that regulated communications on the internet were forced to catch up. We are now seeing more and more cases dealing with threats made through internet sites such as Facebook and MySpace. I have personally handled cases involving younger individuals using Facebook and My Space for, well less, than finding old friends. When I was in school, we were actually forced to have face to face conversations. If a person wanted to threaten someone- it was done in a parking lot where an old fashion fist fight erupted. Now we are in an age of texting and posting. A huge problem lies in this- it's much easer for a teenager to write something less than appropriate and click 'post'. Suddenly a communicating threats case awaits them in district court a few weeks later. To the surprise of many parents, a 16 or 17 year old teenager will be treated as an adult under North Carolina law. The teenager says- "I didn't really mean it. I was kidding." Parents are shocked to learn their teenager is being treated as an adult with a criminal case pending.

Laws are constantly catching up with with science. The Charlotte Observer had an interesting article today on a synthetic drug called K2, a legal herb product made in a laboratory that is being viewed as a legal alternative for marijuana. K2 is illegal in six states with many others states, including North Carolina, initiating steps to outlaw it. It appears the synthetic herb not only has a dominant internet presence but also has become increasingly popular with teenagers and college students, partly driven by the fact that anyone can buy it at tobacco shops. While it is not considered to be an illegal controlled substance in North Carolina, it has become known as 'Fake Weed'. While it looks like tea that you would have in the morning, some recent news report much stronger affects than marijuana.


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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Appeals and Drastic Changes Coming to NC SBI Lab

For the past week, the Charlotte Observer has been running a series on North Carolina's SBI Lab. To read the entire series, click here. The lab director, Jerry Richardson, lost his job yesterday.  The potential implications of the Lab's mistakes and disregard for acceptable lab practices are far reaching. Jeff Welty in his news roundup yesterday summarized one of the most alarming admissions- "it was indeed the sanctioned practice of some NC SBI Laboratory Analysts to omit the results of certain negative or inconclusive confirmatory tests in final lab reports under certain circumstances, and this practice later became written SBI policy in 1997."

The series highlighted  higher profile homicide cases. However, for those who think it has not affected the minor drug possession case, they are mistaken. In the article SBI lab relied on sight, not testing, in drug cases, a former drug analyst, Irvin Allcox, testified in 2007 that the SBI didn't want to waste time in testing prescription drugs when analysts could look through a pharmaceutical manual and identify pills on appearance. This statement is equally alarming- is it really safe to assume that all prescription drugs sold on the black market are authentic?

Fewer cases are affected in Mecklenburg County because Charlotte Mecklenburg Police uses its own lab. However, if you were arrested for a DWI in Huntersville or Matthews and you submitted to a blood test, your blood was probably analyzed by the CBI lab in Raleigh. Expect appeals and expect drastic changes.

Below is a news story that summarizes some of the story.


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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vehicular Homicide- Update From New York

Earlier this year I wrote a post called The Crime Not Committed Yet Punished. It addressed the vehicular homicide case in New York involving  Koua Fong Lee. He was convicted after his Toyota Camry hit another car, tragically killing the occupants in that vehicle. At trial and prior to the Toyota recalls on brake system in several models, Lee testified that he pumped the brakes on his car and the car accelerated. Lee was just granted a new trial. He was released from prison after serving 2 1/2 years. It is unclear whether the District Attorney will proceed with a second trial, stating that she would not "prolong the case".


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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mecklenburg County Defensive Driving School- A Fox News Story

Did you recently get a speeding ticket in Mecklenburg County? Did the police officer tell you to take traffic school and you would be eligible for a Prayer for Judgment Continued? The website for the traffic school that the Mecklenburg County District Attorney mandates is located here. There is a lot of controversy recently about this policy. According to the Fox News report last night, many people are questioning the whole process. Here is the link to the article and video- it's worth watching, especially if you have received a traffic ticket recently in Mecklenburg County. 

I have written prior posts on how quickly your license can get suspended in North Carolina. Before you do anything, I always recommend speaking to a lawyer before you pay your traffic ticket. Traffic school is not always necessary.

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