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Why shoplifting charges need to be taken seriously

A shoplifting arrest can ruin the holiday season. Unfortunately, it happens. Sometimes people, distracted by all they have to do, accidentally leave or begin to leave a store while in possession of merchandise they haven't paid for. Other times, the temptation to take a little something you really need or want is too much to resist.

Retailers and law enforcement authorities take shoplifting seriously. Here in North Carolina, shoplifting is covered under larceny and theft laws. The specific charge and potential penalties depend on the value of the merchandise. For example, if the property allegedly stolen is valued at under $1,000, that's a misdemeanor and can carry a penalty of up to 45 days in jail. However, if it's over $1,000, they can face a felony charge and possibly end up behind bars for up to eight months.

What traits should you look for when choosing your executor?

One of the most crucial aspects of developing your estate plan is determining who to name as your executor. This is the person who will oversee the disposition of your assets to your heirs and beneficiaries as you've designated. Your executor will also be responsible for paying any final bills, possibly selling your home and representing the estate in court if necessary.

It's wise not just to name an executor, but to designate a successor. That person would assume the job if your named executor is unable or unwilling to handle the responsibility when the time comes. Having a successor can also save you the trouble of having to amend your estate plan if your executor passes away before you do. It's generally best for the successor to be a younger person.

Watch out for DUI checkpoints this holiday season

Holidays often mean an uptick in traffic accidents involving impaired drivers. Because of this, law enforcement may use numerous tactics to deter partiers from getting behind the wheel at the end of the night. Among these tactics is the sobriety checkpoint. A common question about sobriety checkpoints is whether they are legal.

In fact, they may seem to violate your right to be safe from unwarranted search and seizure or from a traffic stop initiated without probable cause. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that because these checkpoints provide a benefit that outweighs the risk that police will violate your rights, they are an acceptable form of drunk driving prevention. Sobriety checkpoints may be legal in North Carolina, but that does not mean your rights are safe when you approach one.

What's involved in placing a lien to collect a debt?

As a business owner, you know there are few things worse than being owed money by another company that won't pay you. When efforts to collect what is owed you fail, one option you may want to consider is a lien on that company's assets. If you're successful in obtaining that, you have the right as a lien holder to sell those assets to recoup your money. Let's discuss what the process involves.

First, you have to go to court to get a judgment against the company. You must show proof that the company didn't pay a debt they owed you. For example, if you own a plumbing business and you did work for a company that didn't pay you, you'd need to present the bills you submitted detailing labor, materials, plumbing fixtures and anything else for which you charged them.

What are the possible consequences of an out-of-state DWI/DUI?

You have a DWI/DUI conviction in another state. Maybe you got it before you moved to North Carolina. Perhaps you were on vacation or away at school. Whatever the situation, many people believe that a DWI/DUI outside of the state where they live doesn't "count" on their record.

They may also believe that if they get a DWI/DUI in another state, their convictions in their own state won't have any impact on the potential consequences. In most cases, those assumptions are wrong.

Breathalyzers known to give false readings

In North Carolina, if police suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may pull you over and ask you to submit to a breath test. You may think you do not have the right to say no to a Breathalyzer examination, but you do, and you may want to, as these machines can give false readings. Just know that refusing this sobriety test does have its consequences.

How exactly does a Breathalyzer work? What can cause a false reading? Is it possible to fight breath test results? All are questions with pretty straightforward answers.

Know the law around North Carolina polling places

When you go to the polls on Nov. 6 (or sooner, if you're voting early), there are a number of laws that govern your behavior and that of others. Of course, things that are illegal anywhere else are also illegal at polling places. A man was recently arrested at a polling location in Charlotte where early voters were casting their ballots. He allegedly harassed a campaign volunteer and threatened to assault him.

According to officials with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), the man was shouting racial slurs at the campaign worker. He reportedly displayed what turned out to be a BB gun that he was carrying in a holster.

Why aren't DUI checkpoints a violation of your rights?

As the end of the year approaches, you're likely to see some DUI or "sobriety checkpoints" on the roads here in North Carolina and wherever your holiday travels take you. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations (not to mention the football games that accompany them) are occasions for serious drinking for many people. Law enforcement agencies set up these checkpoints as a deterrent to potential drunk drivers and to catch people who are behind the wheel when they shouldn't be.

Despite complaints that these checkpoints are a violation of people's Fourth Amendment right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," these checkpoints have been ruled legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

How do you choose the right executor?

Choosing an executor is one of the most crucial decisions you'll make as you develop your estate plan. If you don't designate an executor, the court will appoint someone to handle those responsibilities. Most people prefer to choose someone they know and trust.

Before you make that decision and ask someone to take on the responsibilities of your executor, it's essential to understand what those responsibilities typically involve. Following are the most common tasks of an executor:

  • Paying the estate's bills and taxes
  • Distributing assets as you've designated
  • Representing the estate in court as needed
  • Selling or distributing the home and other properties as you've designated and maintaining the properties until then

Know your rights and responsibilities when stopped by police

Interactions with law enforcement officers can be frightening and stressful. People often aren't thinking clearly when they're stopped by police. It's essential to remember that you have rights as well as responsibilities. This is true whether you're a U.S. citizen or not. If you understand those rights and responsibilities, you can keep your interaction from escalating to something more serious and adding to your potential legal problems.

Most people know their basic rights, commonly referred to as their Miranda rights, just from having watched television. One of these is "the right to remain silent." However, if you exert that right, tell the officer that's what you're doing. Whatever you do, don't lie.

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