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Wilmington Legal Issues Blog

Drafting a separation agreement that will work for your family

It's not easy to make the decision to move forward with divorce. For some, this decision requires months or years of consideration, but in the meantime, they may not want to live with the other party any longer. In these situations, a legal separation may be appropriate. While different from a divorce, it still allows two people to protect their rights and separate their lives. 

If you think for any reason that a legal separation is a smart move for you, you will find it beneficial to draft a formal agreement. Simply moving out may seem like a simple option, but in reality, it may leave you exposed to potential risks. Drafting a formal and legally enforceable separation agreement is simply a way to make sure you don't face unnecessary problems down the road.

Understanding Batson challenges

When facing criminal charges in Wilmington, the last thing that you want to have to contend with is the potential for prejudice amongst those hearing your case. Both those prosecuting you and defending you want to pick a jury that they feel will most likely side with their argument. During the jury selection process, both sides are also allowed a number of peremptory challenges to keep certain people out of the jury box. We here at The Law Office of L. Bryan Smith, PC understand how the misuse of these challenges can impact the outcome of your proceedings, and how your ability to prove such misuse could be vital during the appeal process. 

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has specifically addressed the issue of prejudice becoming apparent in peremptory jury challenges. In the matter of , a claimant alleged that the prosecutor in his case violated his right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to have his case heard by a jury representing a cross-section of his community. He claimed that by the prosecutor using his challenges to deliberately strike jurors of the man’s same race, he demonstrated prejudice. The Court ultimately agreed, and from that ruling rose what came to be known as the Batson challenge

Tripped security alarm leads to homeowner's arrest

People in Wilmington count on the protection that local law enforcement authorities provide. Yet while there may be times when the exercise of their duties calls for them to use extraordinary action, officials are expected to use good judgment when doing so. Doing so might be difficult when forced into a momentary decision, yet law enforcement officials are required to balance their duty to uphold the law with respecting the rights of those amongst whom they work. Part of respecting those rights includes listening to people's claims and avoiding rash actions made before the facts of a situation and adequately be assessed. 

It was a rush to judgment made by a police officer that lead to a local man being arrested. The man's security alarm was tripped when his friend left his home. Thinking nothing of it, the man disengaged the alarm and went to bed. he was woken by the sounds of screaming, to which he responded by grabbing his gun and heading downstairs. What he did not know was that the screaming was coming from the police officer, who had responded to the alarm and found the door unlocked. According to the man, the officer refused to believe that the house was his, and instead arrested him and forced him out of the home while wearing only his underwear. 

Is my marriage emotionally abusive?

Unlike other types of abuse, emotional abuse is not always easily identifiable. This is especially true when it comes to one abusive behavior known as gaslighting. Gaslighting makes a person call their very reality into question thanks to deliberate manipulations. It's a means of retaining control over another person, and it often starts small and then excels until confusion and uncertainty reign. If you're concerned about your marriage, the following offers a few examples of how gaslighting occurs. 

The most obvious sign is lying. Unlike other people who tell lies, which are often subtle and hard to detect, a gaslighter tells blatant lies. They tell lies even as the truth is staring you right in the face, and the person will continue to lie when presented with evidence to contrary. Brazen lying serves one purpose, and that is to undermine your sense of sanity. Even if you know you're right, you might still question your version of events. Over time, your confidence in yourself will be broken down until the abusive party retains full control. 

Stopping a North Carolina driver for suspected DWI

When making a traffic stop for suspected DWI, police must have valid grounds to do so. They cannot stop a driver simply because they want to, but rather, there must be certain things that give a law enforcement officer reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. Without reasonable suspicion, a traffic stop may be invalid.

With reasonable suspicion, an officer can pull a driver over, and the officer can then determine if sobriety tests or a chemical test are necessary. If you are facing DWI charges and you believe that your initial traffic stop was invalid, you have grounds to fight back. You can challenge violations of your rights and any evidence against you gathered as a result of an illegal stop.

Moving your child from public to private school

If you and your ex have joint custody of your child in North Carolina, you may be dealing with an ex-spouse who wants him or her to attend a different school beginning this term. At The Law Office of L. Bryan Smith, P.C., we work to resolve child custody issues including visitation and parenting time, child relocations and custody modifications.

Command the Courtroom reports that school choice often becomes an issue if one parent wants their child to attend private school. When the parents cannot agree, the case may go to court. In these situations, the judge considers a variety of factors:

  • School ratings - Just because the school is private, does not mean the rating is significantly better
  • Distance from home - Judges typically do not believe it is in the best interest of the child to spend long periods in the car. They prefer the children to spend quality time with you or doing homework.
  • Child’s academic performance - Changing schools is a tremendous upheaval in a child’s life and some can make the switch more easily than others. It may be better for your child’s emotional well-being to stay where they are.
  • Cost - Private schools are expensive. In many cases, one parent cannot afford to split the bill. The judge may tell the parent pushing for the change that they must shoulder the burden of paying the full tuition.

How should I talk to employers about my criminal record?

A criminal past doesn't make you a bad person. It also shouldn't prevent you from securing gainful employment, but unfortunately, many hiring managers are reluctant to hire people with prior convictions. You can paint the issue in a more favorable light when applying for jobs by taking the right approach. In this case, U.S. News & World Report offers the following advice. 

Before your interview, consider what you're going to say should you be questioned about the past. It's best to have a few short sentences in mind so you can succinctly explain the situation. State when the incident occurred and why, but don't feel the need to go into detail. Next, briefly summarize what you've done since to prevent the issue from happening again. You can also provide examples of how you've atoned for past behaviors. It's best to keep things concise, especially if the interview has progressed favorably so far. 

Is my marriage headed towards a divorce?

While all marriages experience difficulties from time to time, for some couples it can seem like divorce is right around the corner. Deciding to divorce is a heart-wrenching prospect, so naturally many people are reluctant to entertain it, even when faced with serious issues. In this case, Very Well Mind asks you to consider the following if you're experiencing problems in your marriage. 

A lack of physical and emotional intimacy is often an indicator of a troubled marriage. Intimacy is natural between people who love each other, and if your love for your spouse is waning you might not feel comfortable sharing intimacy with him or her. This can easily lead to a feeling of indifference, which can be more damaging to a relationship than hatred, which indicates a strong emotional response in the very least. 

Am I overparenting my child?

Many parents feel overly protective of their kids immediately following a divorce. While you naturally want to safeguard your child from bad feelings and hurt caused by the split, overparenting can actually harm your relationship with your child in the long run. Very Well Family explains the signs of overparenting so you can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with your child no matter what.  

Failure builds character and teaches kids how to be gracious about defeat. Virtually all parents find it tough to watch their kids fail, to the point where they might provide assistance above and beyond what's considered healthy. For example, supplying your child with answers to homework problems prevents him or her from developing essential problem-solving skills. It also prevents a kid from learning from past mistakes, which is an extremely beneficial life skill to learn. 

Expungement requirements in North Carolina

Many talk about the importance of you being able to move on with your life in Wilmington following a criminal conviction. Actually doing so can be difficult due to the mere fact that you have such an offense associated with your name. Many in your same situation have come to us here at The Law Office of L. Bryan Smith, P.C. asking if there is some form of relief that can help them find post-conviction success. Like them, you will be happy to there that there is: expungement. 

The state is just as invested in you finding success after having paid your debt to society as you are. Thus, it has removed some of the barriers to you achieving that success through its expungement laws. Section 15A-145.5 of North Carolina's General Statutes states that you can file a petition to have your record expunged five years after having been convicted of a nonviolent misdemeanor or ten years after having been convicted of certain nonviolent felonies. Your petition must contain the following: 

  • Evidence that you have maintained a good moral character since the date of your conviction and have committed to other offenses (other than traffic violations)
  • The testimonies of two witnesses (not related to you) verifying your character and reputation
  • Recognition that the petition is a motion in the case for which you were convicted 
  • Authorization for the state to conduct a background check
  • A statement showing that there are no pending civil actions or judgments against you
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The Law Office of L. Bryan Smith, P.C.
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Wilmington, NC 28403

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