Dylan W. Greenwood, Attorney at Law PLLC

Victims' rights campaigner facing drug charges

Advocacy groups in North Carolina and around the country may be familiar with Henry T. Nicholas III and his efforts to pass legislation protecting crime victims. Nicholas was inspired to action by a 1983 case involving a California student who was murdered by her stalker, but the 59-year-old technology billionaire now finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Nicholas was taken into custody on Aug. 7 by police in Las Vegas on drug possession and trafficking charges.

According to reports, Nicholas called hotel security after trying unsuccessfully to enter his room. When security officers gained admission to the room, they are said to have discovered an unconscious woman lying on the floor with a semi-inflated balloon hanging from her lips. Security personnel are said to have called police after Nicholas admitted that the balloon contained nitrous oxide.

College debts could lead to divorce

As many North Carolina residents know, there are various reasons why people get divorced. Financial issues are commonly cited as causes behind separations. However, some may be surprised to learn that debt from college loans could significantly contribute to the end of a relationship.

In a recent survey conducted by the education debt managing website Student Loan Hero, 13 percent of respondents pointed to college loan debt as a specific factor in their divorces. This connects directly with the rising costs of a college education and the loans many students take out to pay for it. The average college loan balance is $34,000, which is an increase of 62 percent over a decade. Furthermore, loan balances of over $50,000 have tripled during the same amount of time.

Reducing drug penalties could erase racial health disparities

Researchers say that reducing penalties for drug possession in North Carolina and elsewhere could lead to a reduction in racial disparities in the court system. It could also cause an indirect reduction in health disparities.

Since the 1970s, drug arrests have disproportionately impacted communities of color. However, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that California's Proposition 47, a 2014 law that reclassified drug felonies as misdemeanors, caused a reduction in racial and ethnic arrest disparities. Researchers examined statistics from the California Department of Justice's Monthly Arrest and Citations register from 2011 until 2016. There were approximately 1 million drug arrests made over the five-year study period. During the first 30 days after Proposition 47 went into effect, absolute felony drug arrest disparities between white and black defendants dropped from 81 per 100,000 to 44 per 100,000. Disparities continued to fall over subsequent months.

Women and finances in divorce

The cost of health insurance, a forced return to the workforce and the temporary nature of alimony may be among the financial surprises in store for some women who get a divorce in North Carolina. In a survey conducted by the online marketplace Worthy, 46 percent of divorced women reported a financial surprise during the divorce process.

Some women were unaware of the extent of debt they and their exes have incurred. This debt might include the mortgage, auto loans, credit card debts and more. Others were surprised at what a divorce cost or thought they would be able to hold onto the family home but could not. Some women were unprepared for these revelations because their husbands had made most of the financial decisions. This was the arrangement reported by 23 percent of women in the 18-to-54 age group and 18 percent of women in the 55 and older age group.

Am I eligible for probation?

The North Carolina justice system has many different options for criminal rehabilitation. If you find yourself facing a criminal conviction, there is no guarantee you will receive a prison sentence. Instead, you can aim for a possible probation sentence.

A probation allows you to remain in the community rather than go to jail. You do have a specific set of rules and tasks to follow in accordance to your sentence, but it is still better than being in an isolated cell surrounded by criminals and correctional officers. Getting probation could be the first step towards rebuilding your life after a conviction, so it is crucial to know your eligibility for it and what these suspensions require you to do.

Going through a divorce with children? Types of child custody

In North Carolina, a judge will grant custody based on what is in your child's best interest, which is what most parents want, as well. When determining custody, you may not know that there are more types of custody than just "sole" and "joint." It is vital that you and your spouse understand the different types of custody prior to taking the steps to create a custody agreement. 

Divorced parents can co-parent successfully

Parenting a child is never easy, but for North Carolina couples, parenting a child after a separation or divorce can be even more challenging. Some people say that co-parenting with their ex is the hardest thing they've ever done.

Divorce is never easy on children, and parents want to do the best they can for their kids. Co-parenting their children following a divorce can be less traumatic if parents commit to making the situation work. This starts with both parents equally wanting the situation to work. It helps if the parents can get along better than they did when they were married to each other. This is important to the emotional well-being of their child.

Financial stress can lead to divorce

Financial concerns are often cited as the most common cause of divorce in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the separation itself can carry its own financial difficulties as well. There are a few common reasons for marital clashes over money. By working to resolve issues over finances, a couple could keep their marriage together.

In many cases, poor communication is a primary cause of money troubles. When couples don't discuss their finances together, there is a lot of room for one partner to later be angry about the decisions that were made without their input. In other families, both parties may be fine with having one partner control all the finances. However, there can be unexpected difficulties if one spouse passes away and the other is left to manage funds with little background or knowledge. By communicating about money issues in a safe, open environment, couples can potentially avoid misunderstandings.

Law enforcement crackdown aimed at reducing overdoses

North Carolina residents who provide drugs to someone who dies of an overdose could be charged with homicide. Increasingly, law enforcement in many states is cracking down on these drug providers using laws from the 1980s that were intended to go after crack cocaine dealers. Opponents of this crackdown say that those targeted are not drug dealers and that these types of prosecution do not deter addicts. Furthermore, they could actually increase overdose death rates since some people have been prosecuted after calling for medical aid.

A Pennsylvania woman turned herself in after a neighbor overdosed on heroin she provided. The man had given her $10 and asked if she could get him a small amount. The woman was unaware that Fentanyl was included in the heroin. This is a synthetic drug that can be deadly. The woman has been charged with drug delivery resulting in death and if convicted could be sentenced to decades in prison.

Divorce decree may trump beneficiary designation

A divorce decree is a legally binding document. However, because some of the assets that get divided in a divorce could pass to a beneficiary based on a form filed with the company that holds the asset, it's important to make changes to avoid conflicts later. For example, when someone purchases a life insurance policy in North Carolina, they tell the company whom they would like to receive the money when they die. If the owner of the policy gets divorced and doesn't change the beneficiary, an ex-spouse could receive the money.

There may be exceptions to this rule. If the divorce decree clearly states the ex-spouse is not eligible for the life insurance proceeds, they may not be able to legally claim the money. Unfortunately, since the life insurance company doesn't automatically get a copy of the divorce decree, they may give the money to an ex-spouse if their name is still listed as the beneficiary when a covered person dies.

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