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Federal charges flow from routine traffic stop

Federal charges for possession of weapons carry significant consequences if a conviction is made. Unfortunately, time in a federal penitentiary, subsequent supervision and fines are all possible penalties. When the same individual is also arrested for violations of state criminal laws, the stakes increase. Nevertheless, each person accused of any crime under our criminal justice system is entitled to equal protection of certain basic rights. This is true in North Carolina and other states across the country whether the charges are for federal crimes as well as state charges.

When the public reads about an arrest in the newspaper, focus is on the crime charged. Basic public perception is, whatever the charge, the accused is guilty - why else would the accused be arrested? That is not always true. Each time an individual - or the loved one of an individual - is arrested, the first thought for the legal community is to ensure the person's legal rights are protected.

A 33-year-old North Carolina man was arrested in Providence, Rhode Island recently. He was a passenger in a car stopped on a local city street for allegedly failing to use a turn signal. From that traffic stop, the passenger was arrested for state criminal charges in North Carolina as well as federal weapons charges. No allegation was made that he, or the driver of the car, violated any other traffic laws, other than the claimed turn signal violation.

Police say the passenger has nine open arrest orders for failure to appear in court, though none appear to involve the state of Rhode Island. State police say the man is a fugitive from justice. He is being held at the state police barracks in Lincoln. The man's criminal record in North Carolina dates to 1996 and involves various violent and nonviolent incidents.

Regardless of the circumstances of his arrest, the man must now face federal charges involving weapons and possible extradition to North Carolina. There does not seem to be any charge pending against him at this time in the state of Rhode Island. Clearly, the man needs to present a strong defense. An attorney experienced in federal criminal law may offer some guidance in defending the federal weapons charges.

Source: The Burlington Times News, "Gibsonville man wanted on drug and weapons charges nabbed in Rhode Island," Aug. 5, 2011

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