NC Expungement Law Changes: Effective December 1, 2017

The N.C. Legislature, in a bipartisan effort, along with the Governor have passed a law that goes into effect on 12/1/2017 dramatically changing the waiting period for non-violent misdemeanor and felony criminal convictions.  This new law will allow more people to expunge (clear) their criminal record in a quicker time period.  This law will also allow law enforcement and prosecutors to have access to charges expunged on or after July 1, 2018 and use your expunged criminal record in calculating sentencing levels if you are convicted of a subsequent criminal offense. Continue reading NC Expungement Law Changes: Effective December 1, 2017

Impaired Driving Stop: Weaving & Swerving

DUI Stop for Weaving and Swerving

If you have been charged with a driving while impaired (DWI / DUI) in Wake County, it is likely that you were stopped for “failure to maintain lane control” or “weaving within your lane of travel.” This type of traffic violation is less clear cut than a stop for speeding, failure to stop at a stop light or reckless driving. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a stop for weaving or swerving requires the State to prove to the Court that the officer had reasonable articulable suspicion.

When examining an impaired driving (DWI/DUI) case for a client, one of the first things Attorney Chris Dozier reviews is the stop of your vehicle. If the State fails to prove your stop was valid, then evidence obtained by the officer as a result of your stop (field sobriety tests, admissions and BAC) can be suppressed which may lead to your case being dismissed. Continue reading Impaired Driving Stop: Weaving & Swerving

Top 10 Under 40 Criminal Defense Attorney in NC



Chris Dozier has recently been selected as a “Top 10 Under 40” criminal defense attorney in the State of North Carolina by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys is an organization devoted to recognizing the top criminal defense attorneys in the nation. With over a million attorneys in the United States, choosing the best lawyer is difficult. However, through a stringent selection process, the NACDA awards the best criminal defense attorneys in each state with our most prestigious honor of being named “TOP 10”. The very few attorneys (less than 1%) that are good enough to make this list have demonstrated an extraordinary amount of knowledge, skill, experience, expertise and success in their practice of criminal defense.

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Factors to consider when hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are ever found in the unfortunate position where you have to hire a criminal defense attorney it is always recommended that you set up a meeting and speak with several different lawyers before making your decision to hire an attorney.  If you are accused of a crime, this is a big event in your life and you shouldn’t base your decision solely on the looks of a website or how someone sounds over the telephone.  Courtroom and trial experience counts a lot and is an important factor that everyone should take into consideration.  Just like purchasing a car or home, you usually don’t buy the first one you look at…you look at a few different options, meet the salespeople involved and then make your decision.  So why should hiring a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer be any different?

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What’s a Prayer for Judgement Continued?

A Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC, is generally used following a finding of guilty by the court.  It is entered with the idea that there will be no additional sentencing from the court and usually applies to moving offenses such as speeding and misdemeanor criminal offenses.  If granted a PJC on a conviction, a PJC may still show up in a criminal background check and may be counted as a prior conviction for criminal sentencing purposes.  In addition, subsequent convictions within a certain period (usually within three years) may result in the PJC being rescinding and a sentenced imposed for the original charge.

Secondly, a PJC can also be set in order to continue a case for a specified period with the idea that at some later date the State of North Carolina may pray judgment.  This may occur to to allow a defendant a period of time to stay out of trouble and the State can pray judgment at anytime should the defendant violate this condition.

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Underage Offenses

High School and College is a time where many of us make mistakes and use those experiences to grow and mature as a person.  However, if you are charged with an underage criminal offense such as underage drinking, possession of a fake id, driving after consuming under the age of 21 and purchasing alcohol underage, these violations can potentially have a lifelong effect on your criminal record.

Wake County underage offenses attorney Chris Dozier has extensive experience handling these underage offenses both as a former Wake County Prosecutor and defense lawyer.  Chris Dozier has handled hundreds of criminal offenses related to underage drinking and possession of a fake id and will bring his many years of criminal law experience to work for you in your case.

Being charged and convicted of an underage offense or underage drinking violation can possibly affect your status in school and your ability to find a job in the future.  You should take these charges seriously and don’t risk putting your future in danger.  Criminal defense lawyer Chris Dozier can fight these charges for you and assist you with an expungement of your record if the charges are dismissed.

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What’s In the Cup?

Stop! What’s in the cup?

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently reviewed a driving while impaired (DWI) case arising out of Forsyth County (Winston-Salem) to primarily determine whether the trial court erred in concluding as a matter of law that the defendant was seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and if the defendant was seized, whether the seizure was supported by a reasonable suspicion. State vs. Knudsen, 747 S.E.2d 641 (2013). In simple terms, the main question was whether or not a seizure had occurred by the police and if the police had a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop the Defendant.

The basic facts of the case were as follows:

  1. Eric Lars Knudsen, the Defendant, was charged with driving while impaired (DWI) on July 20, 2011.
  2. The defendant was observed on a Wednesday night at approximately 11:10 p.m. by two Winston Salem police officers as he was walking on the sidewalk with a clear plastic cup in his hands filled with a clear liquid. The defendant was observed walking in a downtown area where there were several open bars and restaurants and he was holding a cup similar to the cups that were commonly used at the downtown bars to serve mixed drinks.
  3. The officers observed the defendant entered into his vehicle, start his vehicle and remain in it for a period of time, and then the defendant exited his vehicle, and began walking down the sidewalk, towards one of the officers who was on a bicycle patrol.
  4. The officers stopped and questioned the defendant as he approached them on the sidewalk “only because he was walking on the sidewalk with a cup in his hand with clear liquid in it” and the officers wanted to know what was in the cup.

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Changes to North Carolina’s misdemeanor drug paraphernalia statute:

As of December 1, 2014, the General Assembly of North Carolina has enacted legislation that will now distinguish between marijuana paraphernalia and paraphernalia for all other drugs. The change to the statute is the exclusion of marijuana paraphernalia’s applicability to subsection (a) of N.C.G.S. §90-113.22(a)– Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and the addition of an entirely new section §90-113.22A– Possession of Marijuana Drug Paraphernalia.

N.C.G.S. §90-113.22(a) as rewritten it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense for a person to knowingly use, or to possess with intent to use drug paraphernalia to introduce any controlled substance into the body other than marijuana. The new statute in §90-113.22A now makes it a Class 3 Misdemeanor if any person knowingly uses, or possesses with intent to use drug paraphernalia to introduce marijuana into the body. Marijuana paraphernalia will be treated the same as simple possession of marijuana.
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Checkpoints…are they LEGAL?

A couple of years ago while I was a special prosecutor assigned to impaired driving offenses (DWI cases) at the Wake County District Attorney’s Office I had an opportunity to handle dozens of pre-trial motions to suppress evidence as it relates to an unconstitutional checking station (also known as a DWI checkpoint).  In particular, I reviewed several DWI charges that arose from a checking station plan established in April of 2011 in response to the North Carolina Highway Patrol (NCSHP) providing aid in prevention of DWI violations following the 2011 Triangle Beach Music Festival in Garner, NC.  According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, more than 10,000 people were in attendance at this event and this checking station resulted in 40 DWI violations.

As a result of my review of these violations I prepared a letter in March of 2012 to my then boss, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, and pointed out several issues that concerned me regarding this and other checking stations that were being set up in Raleigh and around Wake County.  Specifically regarding the checking station for the 2011 Triangle Beach Music Festival, the plan was established as all plans must be in accordance with N.C.G.S. §20-16.3A.  The plan called for stopping every vehicle and encompassed three separate checking station located on different roads that surrounded this event.  The plan established by the NCSHP called for stopping every vehicle that approaching the checking station from the concerts exit starting at 3:30 pm and end at 7:30 pm that same day.

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