A North Carolina Powerball winner is on the hook for $21 million if her live-in boyfriend fails to appear at a future criminal trial.
Since Marie Holmes won $88 million (after taxes) last February, 31-year-old Lamar McDow has been repeatedly arrested, most recently for violating terms of his pretrial release related to drug trafficking charges. According to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, GPS located Mr. McDow in an unauthorized location and he had been involved in a street racing conspiracy. Reportedly, he has also used some of the couple’s lottery winnings to buy an auto shop and a $15,000 Rolex watch. In response to the criticism, Mr. McDow insisted that “it don’t [sic] hurt us” and “people are just jealous because of how much she won.”
“If I had that money then I would do the same for her,” he added.
Bail and pretrial release is just part of the process. 94 percent of criminal cases are resolved via plea bargaining. This process has been criticized by some, on the grounds that the negotiations mostly take place behind closed doors and without judicial supervision. This criticism may be valid, but the plea-bargaining system is firmly entrenched in the criminal justice process.
Typically, the prosecutor offers a reduced sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (“no contest,” which means that the defendant does not admit guilt but also does not dispute the charges). The defense attorney then evaluates the offer, based on the circumstances in the case, mostly the defendant’s criminal history, and the defenses available at trial.
There is an old saying that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and this adage applies in these situations. A favorable plea bargain agreement can be preferable to a trial, regardless of the facts, because of the inherent uncertainty in the trial process.
Burden of Proof
In a criminal case, the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions define this term, but the definition is not very clear, and jurors often ask for additional guidance.
According to the PJIs, “a reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense arising out of some or all of the evidence that has been presented, or lack or insufficiency of the evidence as the case may be. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that fully satisfies or entirely convinces you of the defendant’s guilt.”
If the jury asks for clarification, the judge typically says something like “the proof need not be certain.” These supplemental instructions are almost always ascribed as harmless error, even though they arguably change the meaning of the term.
Often, the best way to create reasonable doubt is to present a reasonable alternative version of the events. Other times, the state is unable to prove each element of the offense. For example, in a DUI, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving the car, and especially if the defendant was arrested after a collision, such proof may not be available.
Contact Aggressive Defense Attorneys
The best way to achieve a positive result in a criminal case is to partner with assertive defense attorneys in Charlotte, like the ones at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. We routinely represent defendants in Mecklenburg County and nearby jurisdictions.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.