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Friday, January 14, 2011

Mecklenburg Magistrate Closed For Snow

The snow not only closed down the courthouse on Tuesday, but also the magistrate's office. The Charlotte Observer had an article today about the Mecklenburg County Magistrate office closing its doors Tuesday due to inclement weather. As a result, some arrested had to wait more than 20 hours to see a magistrate. This is a problem. After arrest, you have a right to see a magistrate within a reasonable amount of time. Criminal attorneys spend a good amount of time arguing over what is reasonable.

When arrested for a DWI in Mecklenburg County, a person has the right to obtain an independent blood test. Obviously a person can't obtain an independent test when in jail. However, a person is not released from custody until they see a magistrate. If a person sits in jail for 20 hours, their alcohol level is dissipating, eliminating the opportunity to get an independent test close in time. When a proper motion is filed by a defense attorney, this delay can result in a dismissal of the case. For those arrested early this week, the result of the closure will have to play itself out in the court system.

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