Thursday, June 28, 2012
So, today's Raleigh DWI Blog is going to have less to do with the practice of defending someone facing a Raleigh Speeding Ticket, Cary DWI Charge or any other North Carolina Criminal Charge and more to do with the actual practice of running a criminal defense law firm (though really, this semi-rant can apply to any legal field and likely any other professional field). As I have launched the Matheson Law Office, Pllc, I have grown my practice in many different ways since first preparing to launch the business 2 years ago. One of the things that I and my staff focus on, as do anyone else running a small business is marketing. Marketing is where it is at when it comes to getting a business off the ground. Without a client base, all other preparations will fall apart. And, just like the time I spend marketing to my client base, I receive calls and emails from those marketing their services to me. In most instances, those that reach out to me are trying to sell me on a marketing product of theirs that is suppose to grow my business. They promise more contacts from those seeking Raleigh DUI Lawyers or to refer those individuals to my practice when contacted by them. I am certainly happy to entertain the speech on what their products are. If I feel they are selling something that is worthwhile to my practice, then I'll invest in it, if not, then I politely decline. What has become apparent to me is the level of deceit that is utilized by many of these operations. The most common one I get is when a company calls me telling me they work for so-and-so attorney in some other State and has some potential clients facing Raleigh DUI Charges and seeing that I am a Raleigh DWI Attorney, they want to refer me the work. Automatically, I know to inquire exactly who it is they work for, the specific name of the company. In every instance so far, they eventually (some take longer then others) admit that they work with a private company selling the referrals and only mentioned the so-and-so attorney as one of their clients. In reality, these companies have secured a valuable domain name (i.e. a web address that someone may type in when looking for representation in my area) and have established a website specific for referring clients nationally to attorneys in their areas. My frustration with this is with the misrepresentation that the referral is coming from another attorney. You see, it is common practice for attorneys to refer cases to other attorneys if the case is not in their geographical area or not in their practice area. So, there could be an attorney in Florida who found me on the web and wants to refer me a client of theirs who got Raleigh Misdemeanor Drug Charges. So, for those who don't inquire, they may actually sign up for this program thinking they are legitimate attorney referrals. Recently, I dealt with a twist on this concept that I found frustrating. I was contacted by a gentleman who claimed he worked for Apple and they were developing Apps to be used on the Iphone and Ipad for DWI and DUI charges. He wanted to set up an interview with one of their sales people to see if I 'qualified' to serve as an attorney the App referred to. I specifically asked this guy the name of the company he worked for and he said "Apple." I asked, as in Apple Computers and he said yes. So, extremely weary of this, I set an appointment for them to contact me today. Aside from the fact the call came over an hour late, I decided to take the call. During his speech, I picked up phrases like "work with Apple," "approved by Apple," etc. So, I asked him specifically what is his company's name, and he told me something like 'The App Store Development.' I asked what his affiliation was with Apple, and he told me they were a subsidiary of Apple. So, I asked him to elaborate on that. He went on to explain that there was an Apple Office down the street from them and that Apple gives them a heads up with new developments and how they were specially licensed by Apple to develop these Apps in certain areas. I asked how they were different from individual developers who make Apps and he told me that they had a 'premium license' with Apple and explained all that it means. So, I asked him whether his only affiliation with Apple was that his company carried a premium license for App Development, and he said that was correct. Needless to say, I told him that I found the sales tactics deceptive and misleading. I'm certain if someone wanted to go through the trouble of following through with it, there is a Deceptive Trade Practices Act violation in there somewhere, but honestly, not like much would come from it. Now, in reality, there is an allowable amount of 'puffery' when it comes to marketing. Certainly a turn-of-phrase or focus on the good and not the bad is all part of successful marketing. But that differs from an outright misrepresentation of the truth. For any attorneys out there that may read the Raleigh DWI Attorney blog, be very weary of these types of calls. Honestly, I find it humorous that one of the markets they focus on is an industry built on individuals who are inherently weary, untrusting and inquisitive. Unfortunately, this being the modern age, I'm certain there are members of the Bar who are older and not as familiar with the practice of internet marketing who may get taken for a ride.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Recently, I was looking through the news and happened upon a news story addressing drug testing, which applicable to this blog as North Carolina Drug Charges are big part of my law practice. The article in question, which can be read here explains that a common practices is for hospitals to do urinalysis of new born babies for the presence of drugs. One of the things they are looking for is THC, which is the active ingredient in Marijuana. Apparently, by identifying baby's who have been exposed to drugs, they can report the parents to local authorities. Likely, these parents will be charged with some form of child endangerment crime as well as likely struggle with Child Protective Services in maintaining custody of these children. While I certainly agree that it is important to protect children, especially new born babies, from a home where drugs are present, there is a flaw in all of this as the article explains. In the article, a hospital here in North Carolina was getting a high number of positives on these drug screen tests they were performing on the babies. After monitoring all the activity of the babies in this hospital, as well as the operations of all staff that interact with them, as well as all substances that the babies come into contact with, the study found out that it was baby shampoo that was causing the positive results. That's right, baby shampoo was causing these tests to indicate the presence of Marijuana in the babies' urine. In fact, there were four different kinds of baby shampoo from three different companies which caused these false positives. Now, let's stop and think, how many times do you think a parent has been accused of exposing their new babies to marijuana. How many have been charged with a crime, or worse, had their kids taken from them all from these types of tests which we now see are flawed. More importantly, if these tests can have a false positive as a result of baby shampoo, what other products can cause false positives that we don't know about? How does something like this get missed by those ensuring these tests are 100% accurate. I mention 100% accurate because certainly we would not convict someone of something as heinous as drug use, or exposing children to drugs, if the tests were not presented as 100% accurate. Because, you see, as far as this Raleigh Drug Defense Lawyer is concerned, if the tests are not 100%, then they should not be used. I would rather we have hundreds of potential convictions thrown out due to not having adequate testing which can meet the level necessary to convict, then to convict an innocent person of North Carolina drug possession or use as a result of one of these tests. Obviously, I'm not saying that the average drug user is bathing with baby shampoo, but again, if something as simple as this can cause a false positive, then the potential for other products doing the same thing is likely. The reality is as far as criminal prosecution goes, we as a society have turned over the responsibility of proving elements of crimes to machines. These machines are inherently flawed as anyone knows who has ever worked a copier/fax machine, DVR, or computer. Unfortunately, many believe that the science is somehow better at these levels then what we are used to. To some degree, they are better, but that doesn't mean they are infallible. In addition, regardless of how good they get, we all still enjoy a Constitutionally protected right to confront our witnesses. However, with most of this machinery, Criminal Defense Attorneys Raleigh or elsewhere are not given access to the code used for their programing in order to challenge it. Finally, the courts have just come to accept them as gospel, no matter how hard we try and show that they are prone to mistakes. This article should give pause to anyone, especially in the judicial field, from accepting accusations of criminal activity that involve scientific testing; including blood/urine/breath testing. If you are facing a North Carolina Drug Charge, or drug charges anywhere else, speak immediately with a local Criminal Defense Attorneys Raleigh or in your area to get specific advice about your case.
Monday, June 18, 2012
In the world of Raleigh DWI Defense the span of consequences is long and exhausting. Many realize that being convicted of a Raleigh DWI Charge will result in loss of license, an increase in insurance premiums and plenty of costs and fines. Some even know that there are consequences with even being CHARGED with a DWI, including loss of license for 30 days and a $100 civil revocation fee, even if you are not convicted. What some do not realize are the after affects of a North Carolina DWI Conviction which are less heard of. For starters, anyone with a blood/alcohol concentration of .15 or above will have the added requirement of having an Interlock device installed on their vehicle for one year at the point that they start driving after being convicted of a North Carolina Driving While Intoxicated charge. This device cost approximately $100 to install, and $60/month maintenance; all costs that are the burden of the Defendant. In addition to this requirement, where those with a blood/alcohol concentration below .15 (or who were convicted under the Appreciable Impairment portion of the statute) can receive a Limited Driving Privilege the same day as their conviction, those with a .15 BAC will have to wait 45 days before they can receive it AND have completed their Substance Abuse Assessment as well as all recommended treatment and show proof of the Interlock installation. Another thing to consider is any license restrictions which will be applied to the Defendant's driver's license once they get it back. A five-year restriction of DWI Convictions whereby the Defendant cannot be found driving with a blood/alcohol concentration of .04 or more. Though one would think after having been previously convicted of Driving Under the Influence in North Carolina, most would avoid drinking and driving anything, many people believe they are probably safe to drive after only one drink. In reality, depending on the individual, one drink can lead to a blow of .04. Recently, I was successful in getting an acquittal for a client charged with violating their license restriction. My client refused to provide a breath sample and the State elected not to obtain a blood sample. Since the State had no scientific evidence as to what, exactly my client's Blood/Alcohol Concentration was, I argued that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client's BAC was at .04 or above. Lastly, and most importantly, in North Carolina, you DO NOT want to get a second DWI after having previously been convicted. If the prior DWI conviction was within the preceding 7 years prior to the new DWI, that is a Grossly Aggravating Factor. One North Carolina Grossly Aggravating Factor will result in a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 7 days. Obviously, there are other consequences, namely the fact that the conviction will show up on the Defendant's record. Obviously, it is recommended to never get charged with a DWI in North Carolina, but if you have been, seek legal counsel immediately. If you received a DWI, or any other Traffic or Criminal citation in the Research Triangle Area, contact the Matheson Law Office, Pllc for assistance.