Minick Law, P.C.https://www.minicklaw.comNC DWI Lawyers | NC DWI CenterThu, 01 Aug 2019 17:02:30 +0000en-UShourly1https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3Mitchell v. Wisconsin – Supreme Court Analyzes Exigency in the Context of an Unconscious DWI Suspecthttps://www.minicklaw.com/mitchell-v-wisconsin/Fri, 05 Jul 2019 22:43:02 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211195The post Mitchell v. Wisconsin – Supreme Court Analyzes Exigency in the Context of an Unconscious DWI Suspect appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Mitchell v. Wisconsin. In this opinion the Court held that cases involving an unconscious driver “almost always permits a blood test without a warrant” under the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement. Mitchell v. Wisconsin, ____ U.S. ____ (2019) (emphasis added).

The key to this holding is the word “almost.”

Mitchell does not reverse the Court’s prior ruling that there is no per se exception to the warrant requirement based on exigent circumstances. Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141, 133 S. Ct. 1552, 185 L. Ed. 2d 696 (2013). In North Carolina, the Court’s ruling in Mitchell, must be viewed in light of State v. Romano, which specifically outlines when exigency does not exist despite the driver being unconscious. Id. 800 S.E.2d 644 (N.C. 2017).

Mitchell v. Wisconsin in Light of Missouri v. McNeely

In McNeely, the Court found that there is no per se exception to the warrant requirement simply due to the fact that alcohol is dissipating from a person’s system. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. at 1563 (“while the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood may support a finding of exigency in a specific case . . . it does not do so categorically. Whether a warrantless blood test of a drunk-driving suspect is reasonable must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances.”)

At the end of the day, the only piece Mitchell adds to the exigency analysis puzzle is that a suspect’s unconscious state should be a strong factor in determining whether exigency exists.

Justice Thomas jabs at the holding of the majority in his concurrence by pointing out that their ruling ridiculously states: “exigent circumstances are generally present when police encounter a person suspected of drunk driving—except when they aren’t.” Mitchell, ____ U.S. ____ (Thomas, J. Concurring).

Mitchell v. Wisconsin in Light of Birchfield v. North Dakota

Not long before it’s ruling in Mitchell, the Supreme Court addressed the situation of an unconscious person suspected of driving impaired.

“It is true that a blood test, unlike a breath test, may be administered to a person who is unconscious (perhaps as a result of a crash) or who is unable to do what is needed to take a breath test due to profound intoxication or injuries. But we have no reason to believe that such situations are common in drunk-driving arrests, and when they arise, the police may apply for a warrant if need be.Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 2160, 2184-85, 195 L. Ed. 2d 560 (2016) (emphasis added).

Mitchell v. Wisconsin in Light of State v. Romano

Exigent circumstances as applied in a case involving an unconscious person have already been applied in North Carolina. In finding no exigency existed despite the fact that the Defendant was unconscious the North Carolina Supreme Court noted the following important facts:

 

  1. Multiple officers were present to assist in the investigation.
  2. An officer could have left the hospital to drive to the magistrate’s office which was only a few miles away.
  3. The charging officer was familiar with the warrant process and knew that it involved fill-in-the-blank forms that are not time-consuming.
  4. Magistrates were on duty and available during the relevant time period.

Romano, 800 S.E.2d at 646. The N.C. Supreme Court noted that despite the fact that the Defendant was unconscious “there is no dispute that the officer did not get a warrant and that there were no exigent circumstances.” Id. at 653.

Implied Consent: Mitchell and Romano

Mitchell also points out, as have many Supreme Court decisions, the validity and importance of implied consent laws. However, by applying the exigent circumstances exception in its holding as opposed to implied consent, the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Mitchell does not meaningfully add anything to its prior holdings regarding implied consent.

Romano specifically addresses North Carolina’s implied consent law.

“Whether a consent to a search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Further, the State has the burden to prove that consent was, in fact, freely and voluntarily given. Consent is not voluntary if it is the product of duress or coercion, express or implied. A court’s decision regarding whether a suspect’s consent was voluntary is based on a careful scrutiny of all the surrounding circumstance and does not turn on the presence or absence of a single controlling criterion. The standard for measuring the scope of a suspect’s consent under the Fourth Amendment is that of objective reasonableness.” Id. at 652-53 (internal citations and quotations omitted).

“To be sure, the implied-consent statute, as well as a person’s decision to drive on public roads, are factors to consider when analyzing whether a suspect has consent to a blood draw, but the statute does not create a per se exception to the warrant requirement.” Id. at 653.

Conclusion

Mitchell’s holding reinstates that exigent circumstances is a case by case determination but that a person’s unconsciousness is a factor that weighs in favor of a finding of exigency.

 

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Understanding the Definition of a DWI in North Carolinahttps://www.minicklaw.com/definition-dwi-north-carolina/Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:51:05 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211176The post Understanding the Definition of a DWI in North Carolina appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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North Carolina’s DWI Law defines a DWI offense as driving a vehicle on a public highway while impaired. For an offender to be considered impaired by alcohol, he must have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. The law sounds deceptively straightforward.

However, there’s a bit more to it than simply the definition. What exactly counts as “driving”? And what counts as a vehicle? And very importantly, what areas are considered public highways?

The answers may surprise you.

What’s the Definition of Driving for a North Carolina DWI?

To be proven guilty of a DWI in North Carolina, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-138.1, the State must show all the elements of the charge, including the fact that the Defendant was driving. Although this seems pretty straight forward, an individual can be guilty of driving when the car is not in motion, in park, or if the individual is not currently in the driver’s seat.

Definition of a Driver in NC

Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-4.01(7) and (25), a driver/operator is defined as a person in actual physical control of a vehicle which is in motion or which has the engine running. The terms “operator” and “driver” are interchangeable. From this definition, the various potential situations for an individual to be charged for DWI start to become more clear. Generally, an individual can be considered to be driving a vehicle as long as they are in the driver’s seat and the engine is running.

Relevant DWI Cases in NC

From the definition of a driver under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-4.01(7) and (25), courts have decided in many cases what constitutes a driver. Here are several examples:

In State v. Mabe, 85 N.C. App. 500 (1987), the court determined that an individual was the driver of a parked car because he was in the driver’s seat and had turned off the engine himself.

In State v. Crawford, 125 N.C. App. 279 (1997), the court determined that there was enough evidence to show that the individual charged was the driver based off the facts that he was the only passenger in the car, the car was parked, the engine was off but still warm, and the individual was semi-conscious from drinking too much.

In State v. Fields, 77 N.C. App. 404 (1985), the court determined that the Defendant was the driver since he was found sitting in the driver’s seat of a motionless car with the engine running. Although the defendant argued that his friend was driving and he had only turned on the car for heat, the court found that he was in sufficient control of the car to be considered the driver/operator and therefore was guilty.

In State v. Clapp, 135 N.C. App. 52 (1999), it was determined that the Defendant was considered the driver of the vehicle, even though the vehicle was broken and did not function, since the vehicle was moving at the time of the charge.

From these examples, it is easy to see that an individual can be considered a driver without actually having driven anywhere. As such, it is important to know what your options are if you are facing a DWI. If you have been charged with a DWI, don’t hesitate to Contact Us at Minick Law for a free consultation about your case.

What Counts as a Vehicle for a North Carolina DWI?

In general, being charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) means that a person has been caught driving a car while intoxicated. However, under North Carolina law, a person can be charged with a DWI, even if they are not necessarily driving a car.

Definition of a Vehicle

In order to convict a person of DWI, the State must prove that person was driving a vehicle while intoxicated. At a glance, the word vehicle is difficult to define since it could mean any number of things, ranging from a car to a spaceship. To solve this problem, under N.C. General Statute § 20-4.01(49), a vehicle is defined as anything that can be used to transport a person or property, on a public highway. N.C. General Statute § 20-4.01(49) also states that a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle when used on a public highway because a bicycle rider must follow all the same laws of the road as a car. Additionally, a moped is considered a vehicle if it has two or three wheels, no external shifting device, a engine no larger then 50 cubic centimeters, and a max speed of less then 30 miles per hour.

Exceptions to the Definition of a Vehicle

There are also various exceptions to this law.  Exclusions explicitly stated are: anything that is human powered, used exclusively on fixed rails or tracks, or any motorized personal scooter that travels less then 15 miles per hour. Generally, the following are also examples of things that are excluded from the definition of a vehicle:

  • Wheelbarrows
  • Trains and trolleys
  • Motorized scooters for medical impairments (Max speed of less then 15 mph)
  • Motorized wheelchairs
  • Rollerblades
  • Skateboards

Prior Cases Regarding Vehicles

There have been a wide range of cases in North Carolina regarding what constitutes a vehicle for the purposes of a DWI. In State v. Green, 251 N.C. 141 (1959), it was determined that a tractor used for farming qualified as a vehicle for a DWI charge. In State v. Crow, 175 N.C. App. 119 (2005), the court found that an electric stand-up scooter was also within the definition of a vehicle to uphold a DWI conviction. However, in Lewis v. Watson, 229 N.C. 20 (1948), it was found that a handcart, being pushed by a person, did not qualify as a vehicle for purposes of a DWI.

As you can see, although there are laws defining what is considered a vehicle for the purposes of a DWI, there are a variety of situations that can arise where it is hard to determine whether a thing should be considered a vehicle. Although there may be a situation where the thing may be excluded, the laws defining a vehicle were written to be very broad in order to give the State the ability to charge a person a DWI in most circumstances. As such, a person should always consider the ramifications of being charged with a DWI when using anything as transportation after drinking.

If you have been charged with a DWI, don’t hesitate to Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C., for a free consultation about your case.

What is the Definition of a Public Vehicular Area for a North Carolina DWI?

In order for an individual to be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in North Carolina, the State must prove that an individual was driving impaired on a public highway. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-138.1, a public highway is any highway, street, or public vehicular area in North Carolina. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-4.01, a highway and a street are defined as the entire width between property or right-of-way lines, when any part thereof is open to the use of the public as a matter of right for the purposes of vehicular traffic.

What is a Public Vehicular Area?

From this definition, it is easy to see that the scope of what is a public highway is very broad, especially based of the third part of the definition – a public vehicular area. Since a highway and a street are easily defined, most issues regarding the designation of a public highway in DWI charges arise out of the definition of a public vehicular area. A public vehicular area is anywhere a vehicle can be driven by a member of the public. This includes parking garages, parking lots, and even driveways. Although these are considered private property since they are owned by individuals and not by the state, the police can still charge individuals with DWI on these properties since members of the public have access to their use.

Cases Defining Public Vehicular Area

There are several cases that have been decided in North Carolina that have defined what a public vehicular area is. In State v. Snyder, 468 SE 2d 221 (1996), the North Carolina Supreme Court found that a parking lot of a private night club was still considered a public vehicular area, even though the nightclub was a private establishment that didn’t allow the entire public in. Following this case, the legislature broadened the definition of a public vehicular area under N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-401(32). In State v. Mark, 154 N.C. App. 341 (2002), the court concluded that a private street was considered a public vehicular area because there was an inference that the street was open to the public because it had a name, was the requisite width of a state road, and was located near other roads.

From these cases, it is easy to see that there is strong support under the law for police officers to be allowed to charge an individual with DWI almost anywhere a vehicle can be driven, regardless of whether the area is owned by the state or by a private owner. If you have been charged with a DWI, don’t hesitate to Contact Us at Minick Law for a free consultation about your case.

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What You Need To Know About Search Warrant Requirementshttps://www.minicklaw.com/what-you-need-know-search-warrant-requirements/Mon, 24 Jun 2019 18:12:39 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211161The post What You Need To Know About Search Warrant Requirements appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution states that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes and on their persons.

The reason this right has been extended through the Constitution is due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in these locations.

However, does the 4th Amendment protect individuals from searches by police when the police have a search warrant?

Requirements to Obtain a Valid Search Warrant

A search warrant is a legal document which has been signed by a judge that authorizes police officers to search for specific things at a specific place and time.

To be a valid search warrant:

  1. The warrant must have been filled out honestly and intentionally by a law enforcement officer;
  2. It must be based on good information and show probable cause to search;
  3. It must be signed by an unbiased judge;
  4. It must state specifically what law enforcement will try to seize and where they intend to search for it.
  5. By obtaining a search warrant, police officers have been given permission to disregard an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy due to the possibility of evidence of a crime being found.

When police officers execute a search warrant, they are allowed to seize any evidence that they find while conducting the search, even if this evidence might not have been included in the original search warrant.

Requirements to Validly Execute a Search Warrant

After police have obtained a search warrant from a judge or magistrate, they are typically given a window of time in which the warrant is considered to be valid to execute the warrant.

Generally, if police officers wait too long, any searches and seizures conducted could be thrown out as illegal.

Behavior While Executing A Search Warrant

Generally, police officers are required to conduct themselves in a reasonable manner when executing a search warrant. This means that officers should give you the ability to cooperate and participate rather then knocking down your door. As such, police officers must typically:

  • Knock and announce their present prior to entering (allows the occupant to cooperate and avoid breaking down of doors/windows);
  • Present the search warrant to the occupants;
  • Follow basic rules of courtesy in interacting with the occupants; and
  • Not cause undue harm or damage to the property;

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution of the United States requires that police officers have probable cause in order to arrest an individual.  As such, probable cause is the legal standard that gives police authority in arresting an individual, searching a person or property, or receiving a warrant for arrest.

What is the Knock & Announce Rule?

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes. This is due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in their home.

Since the 4th Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches in their homes, police officers are generally required to knock and announce their presence before entering a home for any purpose. By requiring police officers to do this, courts have recognized that occupants should be given notice and allowed to collect themselves prior to entrance by police officers.

However, like almost every rule, there are several important exceptions.

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Exceptions to the Knock & Announce Rule: Announcing

Although there is not a steadfast rule requiring a certain statement to be shouted by police officers when announcing their presence, police officers generally shout something that identifies that they are police and the purpose of their visit. However, since there isn’t a certain rule, police don’t have to meet any specific requirement in order to properly announce their presence.

Additionally, although the police officers are announcing themselves in order to give the occupant notice, just because an occupant does not hear the police does not mean that the police did not properly announce their presence.

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Exceptions to the Knock & Announce Rule: Timing

Another important part of the knock and announce rule is the timing between the knock and announce and the subsequent forcible entry.

Although courts have stated that police officers are required to wait a reasonable amount of time before forcibly entering a person’s house, these courts have not given an exact amount of time required either. Because of this, police officers just have to show that under the circumstances, they were justified in the amount of time that they waited before entering.

E

Exceptions to the Knock & Announce Rule: Violence or Surprise

There are also certain situations where police officers are not required to knock and announce at all. If prior to the entry of the house, police officers know that there is a threat of violence or a possibility that evidence will be destroyed, police officers are not required to knock and announce. This is often seen in situations where police officers are about to raid a house where drugs and guns will be present.

The reasoning behind this is that by not having to knock and announce, suspects will not be able to harm the police officers or flush drugs down the toilet.

Consequences of Violations To This Rule

Surprisingly, unlike other violations of the 4th Amendment, violation of the knock and announce rule by police officers does not generally exclude any evidence found.

In Hudson v. Michigan, the Supreme Court found that even though police did not properly knock and announce their presence, the police would still have found the evidence with proper procedure.

Based off of this reasoning, many other courts have followed the Supreme Court’s lead on admitting evidence found in violation of the knock and announce rule. However, certain state courts have also ruled in the opposite direction. Because of this, there is always a possibility that evidence could be excluded for a violation of the knock and announce rule.

Can the Police Search Without a Warrant?

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes. This is due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in their home.

However, are there circumstances where the police can enter your house without going through the process of obtaining a warrant?

Search Without a Warrant: Exigent Circumstances

Although the 4th Amendment seems to give individuals rights that are set in stone, numerous exceptions have arisen that allow police officers the ability to search without a warrant.

One of these exceptions is the legal concept of exigent circumstances. Under this exception, police officers are allowed to bypass obtaining a search warrant due to the existence of some emergency circumstance that prevents obtaining a warrant.

Generally, there are three examples of exigent circumstances:

  1. emergency situations,
  2. the possibility of the destruction of evidence,
  3. or the hot pursuit of a suspect in a crime.

The reasoning behind this policy is that by allowing police officers to enter a home without a search warrant, the public receives a benefit through the ability to help individuals in danger, the preservation of valuable criminal evidence, or the capture of a dangerous criminal.

Determining The Legitimacy of Exigent Circumstances

Although allowing police to use exigent circumstances to justify warrantless searches is good for the public in general, it does offer the opportunity for abuse on the part of the police. Although there is no definite test, courts have considered the following factors in determining whether exigent circumstances exist:

  • bad faith on the part of the police officers;
  • availability of probable cause and time required to obtain a warrant;
  • reasonable foreseeability of the circumstances; and
  • the use of standard or good investigative tactics.

Takeaway

Based off of exigent circumstances, police officers are given greater ability to search your house without first obtaining a warrant. As such, it is important to know your rights if the police show up at your house claiming they are allowed to search your house based off of exigent circumstances.

Although it is probably not a smart decision to interfere with a search, it is important to clearly state that you deny consent for the search.

Additionally, make sure to ask for identification and any explanation from the police officers for the search. After the search, write down any important details in order to produce a record of what occurred.

Search Without a Warrant: Giving Consent to Search to a Police Officer

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens (and non-citizens) from unreasonable search and seizure. Law enforcement must first obtain a warrant based on probable cause before a search can take place.  However, there are instances when a search is reasonable without a warrant. Law enforcement can conduct a warrantless search of you and your property if you voluntarily give them consent.

What is Consent?

“Can I search your vehicle?”  “Sure.” Is a likely scenario were a person orally agrees to allow law enforcement to search.  Any person law enforcement reasonably believes has a right to control the property (roommate, coworker, family member) can give consent.

Consent must be given clearly and voluntarily; not coerced with threats or trickery. 

However, law enforcement does not need to tell you consent is voluntary. The person whose property is being searched may revoke consent at any time, either orally or through actions.

What Should You Do?

Remember, you do not have to give consent. Officers will try a variety of methods to convince you to consent, but if you do not want your property or person searched say so!  If there is a language barrier, ask to speak to an interpreter.

Do not sign anything that you cannot read and fully understand.  Remember you can always withdraw your consent once it is given, but you must make this clear to law enforcement. Always be polite and courteous; being rude or combative will get you nowhere.

As mentioned above, consent to search your effects can be given by people close to you.  It is important to make clear to the people you share a home or office with that they do not have your permission to consent to a search and that if police ask, they should say no.

4th Amendment Protection of Vehicles

Many people believe that since the 4th Amendment protects their home and individual persons, this protection also extends to their vehicles. Unfortunately, this is not true.

In a variety of cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th Amendment does not provide the same level of protection to a car as it does to a house. The Supreme Court has rationalized this due to the high mobility of a motor vehicle, the use of motor vehicles in public places, and the ease in which a car can be used for criminal behavior.

As such, a person, including passengers, cannot expect to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a car.

Wyoming v. Houghton

In Wyoming v. Houghton, the Supreme Court considered a case concerning the search of passengers of a vehicle. In the case, police officers pulled over a car for a faulty brake light. While talking to the driver, the police officer noticed a syringe in the driver’s shirt pocket. After the driver admitted to using drugs, the police officers searched the passengers and their possessions, finding methamphetamine.

At trial, the passengers challenged the legality of the search and attempted to exclude the drugs found. After hearing the legal arguments and theories of the case, the Supreme Court ruled that as long as there is probable cause, police officers are allowed to search passengers and their possessions (backpacks, purses, etc.) as long as the evidence being searched for could fit in those containers.

Takeaway

When entering a car as a passenger, most people don’t even consider whether the driver or any other occupant could be carrying illegal contraband.

However, just because a person lacks knowledge of other occupants’ possessions, this does not give a passenger any protection from being searched. Because of this, you should always be aware of the possible consequences for the actions or possessions of another occupant of a car.

Can the Police Search My Cell Phone after an Arrest Without a Warrant?

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution states that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes and on their persons. This is primarily due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in these locations.

However, does the 4th Amendment protect an individual’s cell phone from search by a police officer after an arrest?

Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

From the language of the 4th Amendment, it seems that the Constitution prevents the police from conducting warrantless searches. However, this is not always true. In previous cases, the Supreme Court has stated that warrantless searches are allowed under a variety of defined exceptions.

Riley v. California

In Riley v. California, the Supreme Court reviewed whether the police were allowed to search a suspect’s cell phone without a warrant for incriminating information following an arrest. After deliberating on this case, the Supreme Court voted 9-0 that police officers are not allowed to search a cell phone without a warrant. This unequivocal rejection of warrantless searches of cell phones was based on the fact that modern technology allows for such a wealth of information to be gleaned from an individual’s cell phone that the Constitution prevents searches without a warrant.

Are Police Allowed To Use A Thermal Scanner To Search My House From The Outside?

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their homes. This is due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in their home.

But what happens when the police have access to advanced technology that allows them to “look in” to your house without actually physically entering?

Kyllo v. United States

In Kyllo v. United States, the Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether the use of advanced technology by police to scan a person’s home from the outside violated the 4th Amendment.

In this case, the police were investigating a house that they believed was a marijuana grow house. After not being able to find anything through the use of standard police surveillance, the police decided to use an infrared thermal imaging device that allowed them to see the heat signature of the house. The device revealed that the roof of the garage was far warmer than the rest of the house.

From this observation, the police believed that Kyllo was using heat lamps for an indoor marijuana growing operation. After deliberating on the facts and legal theories of the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the search was illegal due its unreasonableness and the lack of a warrant.

In the ruling, the Court stated that the use of technology that was not available to the general public violated a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy in their home.

As such, the use of it for police purposes was an unreasonable search.

Implications

Although the Supreme Court ruled in Kyllo that the search was considered unreasonable, their primary justification was that the thermal imaging technology was unavailable to the public, therefore it violated a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

However, this case occurred in 2001, when the technology was first becoming available.

Currently, anybody can easily obtain thermal imaging technology through a variety of different stores or sources. Because of this, under the reasoning in Kyllo, since the technology is readily available to the public, a person cannot reasonably expect any privacy in their home from a thermal imaging scan.

Based on this line of reasoning, individuals can expect the protection in their homes from unreasonable searches to degrade as more invasive technology comes into the public market.

 

Are Police Officers Allowed To Use A Terry Search On My House?

Under the 4th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that an individual is to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is due to the fact that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion.

But what is considered an unreasonable search? After the Supreme Court ruled that frisks of suspects for weapons by police officers were considered reasonable in Terry v. Ohio, what types of searches are unreasonable?

Would a Terry frisk of a person’s car for weapons be considered unreasonable in the eyes of the law?

Maryland v. Buie

In Maryland v. Buie, the Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether police officers were allowed to do a protective sweep of a house for weapons.

After an armed robbery of a pizza place, police officers got arrest warrants for two suspects. While attempting to use the arrest warrants on the suspects, the police officers entered the house where the suspects were holed up. While searching, a police officer shouted down into the basement, ordering anyone down there to come out. After one of the suspects came up and surrendered himself, a police officer went down into the basement and observed incriminating evidence.

At trial, the suspect argued that the evidence should be excluded because the police officer had no reason to search the basement after his surrender. After considering the legal arguments and theories of the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the search by the police officer was allowed under the Terry doctrine of a protective sweep in order to ensure officer safety from weapons or danger.

Takeaway

Based off of Maryland v. Buie, police officers are allowed to do a limited protective sweep when arresting a suspect in order to ensure officer safety. However, to do this, a police officer must have articulable reasonable suspicion of possible danger or existence of weapons in order to do this protective search. 

Although this reasonable suspicion requirement may seem like it would limit the ability of police to do a protective sweep, this requirement is pretty easy to fulfill since arrests are inherently dangerous. As such, anything discovered through a protective sweep is generally admissible in court.

 

Contact Us

If you or someone you know have been charged with a crime based on a search you believe may be invalid, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case and possibly get the evidence excluded.

Contact us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

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June Winner | Non Nobis Solum Awardhttps://www.minicklaw.com/june-winner/Sat, 15 Jun 2019 16:58:18 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211306The post June Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Delvis Ramirez as the June Non Nobis Solum Award Winner!

Delvis was nominated by his wife Michelle, who wrote this about him:

Delvis is an inspiring dad who’s every action revolves around his 3 kids. He is their biggest fan and loves to challenge them in a race and take them on long bike rides! He believes in a good education and sacrifices personally to send them to Catholic school.  He is strong and firm but his daddy heart melts for his 2 year old baby girl! He inspires me to be a better mom and a better wife!

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

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April Winner | Non Nobis Solum Awardhttps://www.minicklaw.com/april-winner/Mon, 15 Apr 2019 16:56:02 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211299The post April Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Mary Wathen O’Herron as the Non Nobis Solum Award Winner for April!

Mary had this to say:

I started my career on a medical surgical floor where I worked for 2 years. But I have been a mother/baby nurse for a little over 10 years now and love it. I take care of Mother’s and infants after birth. I get to be a part of a families top moments of their lives, and help them transition into motherhood during such a vulnerable time. It’s hard but such a rewarding calling. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

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March Winner | Non Nobis Solum Awardhttps://www.minicklaw.com/march-winner/Fri, 15 Mar 2019 16:43:38 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=211292The post March Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Patty Long as the Non Nobis Solum Award Winner for March!

Patty had this to say:

Teaching Second Grade at Charles C. Bell is a delight for me. Third Grade at our school was my teaching assignment since the fall of 2001 until 2008. I taught fourth grade when I first arrived at Bell in 1999, first grade 4 years at Vance Elementary, and was a second grade assistant here way back in the early 1990’s.

 

I am an alumnus of Mars Hill College, The University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Asheville High School (class of ’77), South French Broad Junior High School (grades 8-9), David Millard (7th grade, the last year of its existence), and Newton Elementary School – the best elementary school in my life …until C.C.Bell!

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

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Wilmington Updates | Minick Law, P.C.https://www.minicklaw.com/wilmington-updates/Thu, 28 Feb 2019 14:01:38 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=11483The post Wilmington Updates | Minick Law, P.C. appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Our firm is committed to one thing: helping people.

To carry out our motto, non nobis solum (“not for ourselves alone”), Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington has been getting out and helping the community in a number of different ways.

Check out some of our latest updates.

Youth Day Sponsorship

Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington recently became a sponsor of the New Hanover County Law Enforcement Officers Association’s Youth Day 2019!

Since 1972, the New Hanover County Law Enforcement Officers Association (NHCLEOA) has been dedicated to making New Hanover County a safer place to live and work.

With over 350 members, the NHCLEOA is comprised of active/retired law enforcement officers, including special and associate members. A community service organization, they offer a wide variety of programs for youths and adults alike, including:

  • Law Enforcement Training
  • Outdoor Sports Program
  • Archery Programs
  • Student Scholarships
  • Summer Camps/Programs
  • Hunter/Firearm Safety Training
  • Christmas Programs for Kids
  • And much more!

The Annual Youth Day is just one of NHCLEOA’s many community-based events, open to all youths, ages 6-16.

As a Gold Level Sponsor for the event, Minick Law, P.C. will be helping the Youth Day to remain FREE of charge for all participants. The day’s events will include food, prizes, K-9 unit, archery, and a variety of demonstrations.

For more information about the event, visit the NHCLEOA website.

High School Q&A

Minick Law P.C. of Wilmington has been trying to fulfill our firm’s mission of helping people (non nobis solum) by getting out into our local community.

Just recently, Attorney Gint Krulikas (Minick Law, P.C. of Wilmington) spoke to a group of students at a local high school.

The students at Wilmington Early College High School are currently working on a unit covering the U.S. Constitution and legal system, as part of their curriculum. To help them gain some first-hand knowledge, Gint offered to do an “Ask a Lawyer” session with the students.

He visited the classroom and did a Q&A session with them. It was a big success with the students! Who knows, we may have some future attorneys on our hands!

See some photos from the talk below.

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January Winner | Non Nobis Solum Awardhttps://www.minicklaw.com/january-winner/Wed, 27 Feb 2019 22:35:22 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=11461The post January Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Richard Presley as the January Non Nobis Solum Award Winner!

Richard was nominated by his wife, Denise, for his many years of dedicated service to the community, as both a firefighter and EMT. Here’s a bit of background on Richard and his many accomplishments:

Having grown up in a family of first responders, Richard’s first exposure to the fire service was as a child. His first official involvement began at the Haw Creek Volunteer Fire Department, in November of 1996. This volunteer position officially kick-started his fire service career. Since then, he has volunteered at numerous other departments throughout the state.

Richard served at Fairview Fire Department, where he obtained his EMT certification. In 2007, when he moved to Madison County, he joined Ebbs Chapel Volunteer Fire Dept. and completed his state fire certification.

Since 2012, he has served at the French Broad Volunteer Fire & Rescue. He transitioned to a full-time position and was recently promoted to Lieutenant. In addition to his position at French Broad, he has also worked part-time at Broad River Fire Department, since 2013.

Even amidst his busy schedule, he also drives a school bus part-time for Buncombe County schools.

Richard’s passion and love for the fire service and his community is evident in his 23+ years of service. As a small token of appreciation for all he’s done, Minick Law, P.C. is sending Richard and his wife, Denise, to 131 Main Restaurant for dinner, on us.

Please join us in thanking Richard for his continued service.

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

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February Winner | Non Nobis Solum Awardhttps://www.minicklaw.com/february-winner/Fri, 15 Feb 2019 21:36:24 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=11423The post February Winner | Non Nobis Solum Award appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Minick Law, P.C. is proud to announce Micah Willard as the Non Nobis Solum Valentine’s Day Award Winner!

Micah was nominated by his loving wife, Kathleen. She shared with us their love story that began with him sweeping the floor at a retreat in college. The rest is history!

As a token of appreciation, he will be receiving a $100 gift card to the restaurant of his choice!

 

Take a look at Micah’s nomination below:

Each month this year, Minick Law, P.C. will be sharing 12 amazing stories and giving away 12 great gifts to emphasize our firm’s commitment to one thing: helping people.

Stay tuned! Nominate someone today!

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Drunk Driving Accidents in North Carolina: The Maphttps://www.minicklaw.com/drunk-driving-accidents-north-carolina-map/Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:21:56 +0000https://www.minicklaw.com/?p=11394With data from the state and federal governments, we’ve constructed the maps to help you better understand North Carolina’s drunk driving landscape.

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When it comes to drunk driving accidents in North Carolina, not all counties are created equal.

While the state as a whole has a relatively low percentage of drunk driving accidents, the actual numbers vary wildly across the state. Using data from UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center and the United States Census Bureau, we’ve constructed the following maps to help you better understand North Carolina’s drunk driving landscape.

Number of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

As might be expected, the most heavily populated counties have a much higher number of drunk driving accidents. Just how great the difference is may come as a surprise, however: in 2017, Mecklenburg County had 1,108 alcohol related crashes, while Hyde County had only 2.

Counties with Most Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Mecklenburg – 1,108
  2. Wake – 993
  3. Guilford – 672

Counties with Least Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Hyde – 2
  2. Tyrell – 5
  3. Washington – 7

Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

Another more significant statistic is the rate of alcohol related crashes, which throws the spotlight on counties with an unusually high or low number of crashes relative to their population. For example, in Hyde County there was only one alcohol related crash for every 2,681 residents, while Martin County had a much higher rate of one for every 414 residents.

Counties with the Highest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Martin – 1 out of every 414 people
  2. Vance – 1 out of every 560 people
  3. Duplin – 1 out of every 568 people

Counties with the Lowest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes 2017

  1. Hyde – 1 out of every 2681 people
  2. Yancey – 1 out of every 2217 people
  3. Macon – 1 out of every 1737 people

5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes

Identifying how counties have changed over several years can help show what policies have been effective in combating drunk driving, or what factors lead to an increase in alcohol-related crashes.

The data shows, for example, that while Jacksonville has been labeled North Carolina’s Drunkest City, the surrounding Onslow County has in fact seen the state’s largest decrease in alcohol-related crashes since 2012. Meanwhile, Cabarrus County’s alcohol-related crash count has increased seriously over the same time span.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Onslow – a decrease of 99, from 290 to 191, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1015.
  2. Cumberland – a decrease of 72, from 360 to 288, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1155.
  3. Buncombe – a decrease of 31, from 323 to 292, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 882.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Cabarrus – an increase of 67, from 199 to 266, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 778.
  2. Johnston – an increase of 61, from 225 to 286, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 688.
  3. Iredell – an increase of 45, from 161 to 206, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 853.

5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes with Teen Drivers

Alcohol-related crashes are even more serious when teen drivers are involved. Some of North Carolina’s counties have seen success in combating teen drinking and driving, while others have struggled. In 2017, Beaufort County had twice as many alcohol-related crashes with teen drivers than it did in 2012, while in Catawba County, the number of such crashes had been cut in half.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Beaufort – from 6 to 12. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 5 of Beaufort’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  2. Cabarrus – from 10 to 15. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 18 of Cabarrus’ alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 20 in 2012.
  3. Duplin – from 4 to 8. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Duplin’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 23 in 2012.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Wake – from 88 to 74. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Wake’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 11 in 2012.
  2. Catawba – from 26 to 13. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 14 of Catawba’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  3. Mecklenburg – from 80 to 69. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 16 of Mecklenburg’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 14 in 2012.

Population Estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

Crash Data from Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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