Criminal charges can lead to imprisonment, fines, and a permanent criminal record. While many crimes in North Carolina are nonviolent, misdemeanor and felony charges carry the risk of imprisonment. When you are arrested, you have a right to retain an attorney. Additionally, you do not have to give a statement to law enforcement or participate in an interview.
Getting arrested can be a terrifying experience, making it important to consider hiring a Rutherfordton criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can advocate for you during your case and ensure that your rights are protected. Call our team today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your criminal case.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer From our Team Can Help You Build Your Defense
There are many benefits to hiring a criminal defense attorney when you are facing charges and a potential conviction. Our legal team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, is dedicated to protecting your rights as a private citizen and defending your innocence.
A lawyer from our legal team can:
- Represent you at trial: One of our lawyers can present your defense argument to the judge or jury as your representative. Our team will work together to retrieve the appropriate materials and case references to support your rights within North Carolina
- Negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor: If you are facing multiple charges or if this is your first offense, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to drop some or all of your charges. In some cases, petty offenses can be dismissed upon completion or other certain requirements while other charges may be reduced if you had no prior history of offenses or agree to other sentencing terms.
- Subpoena evidence in your case: Our team aims to equip your defense argument with as much evidence as possible. We may send requests to retrieve video footage from cameras that captured the alleged offense, get copies of the arrest report and interrogation recordings, and review data records to see if they comply with the accusations made against you.
- Recruit witnesses to testify at trial: If there are any individuals that can testify you did not commit the alleged offense, we may recruit them as witnesses and use their testimony to support your claims about the incident. We may also consult expert witnesses if their analysis can support your claims, including medical professionals, accident reconstruction analysts, and economists.
- Petition to reduce your bail: We may be able to petition the courts to reduce your bail. Our team can file a legal motion to do this. This can allow you to maintain your reputation in the community, as in, you may continue working or return to other lifestyle activities while your case is in progress.
When you are arrested, it is important to understand that incriminating statements can be used against you—meaning you need to remain calm following detainment. If you are unsure about how to answer any law enforcement officer’s questions, you have the right to remain silent and not provide self-incriminating statements.
For a free legal consultation with a criminal defense lawyer serving Rutherfordton, call 828.286.3866
You May Face Potential Charges After an Arrest
In North Carolina, you can be charged with a crime in three different ways:
- A summons
- A citation
- An arrest warrant
If an arrest warrant is issued, law enforcement will detain you until a bail hearing is held. You are entitled to an initial appearance promptly after your arrest. An initial hearing is typically held before a magistrate. Under GS §15A-534(a), the conditions of your release are based on:
- The charges
- Your prior criminal history
- Whether you are on probation, parole, or pretrial release
- The likelihood of appearing at your next hearing
- Your ties to the community
- Whether you are a flight risk
Rutherfordton Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me 828.286.3866
Our Team Can Help You Petition for a Pretrial Release in Your Initial Hearing
Should you quickly decide to work with one of our lawyers, we can represent you in your initial hearing, which is usually held within hours of your arrest.
During the initial hearing, the magistrate or judge will review whether there is probable cause for the charges (if you were arrested without a warrant) and will inform you about your right to legal counsel. The judge or magistrate will then set bail.
We Can Help You Petition to Have Your Bail Lowered
Once bail has been set, you can be released on your own recognizance, which is when the Court takes your word that you will appear at your next hearing or be required to provide the Court with security to ensure your appearance. However, bail must be reasonable in order for you to be released.
An attorney from our firm can petition to lower it if you cannot afford the required security. You can pay bail with cash, assets, or through a bail bondsman.
Your Pretrial Release May Have Conditions You Must Abide By
If you are granted pretrial release, you may be required to comply with supervision requirements or adhere to a list of conditions, such as:
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Not engaging in criminal conduct
- Not associating with convicts or individuals on probation or parole
- Drug testing
- Not having contact with victims or other defendants
If you were charged with a crime, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC today for a free consultation.
What You Need to Know About Your First Appearance
If you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you must have your first appearance within 96 hours of your arrest. You have the right to be represented by a Rutherfordton criminal defense lawyer from our team at your first appearance, per GS §15A-601 (a1).
During your first appearance, the district court judge will:
- Inform you about your right to counsel
- Inform you about your rights against self-incrimination
- Review whether you are entitled to bail
- Set pretrial release conditions if you are eligible
A lawyer can advocate for your pretrial release. However, certain charges may allow the judge to deny bail, such as:
- Murder and capital offenses
- Drug trafficking charges
- Gang-related charges
- Methamphetamine manufacturing charges
- Firearm crimes
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What You Need to Know About Probable Cause Hearings
If you are charged with a felony, you have the right to a probable cause hearing within 15 days of your first appearance. The Court will review whether the prosecution has probable cause to proceed with your case. While some cases are dismissed at this stage, most are not. However, the judge can reduce your charges if there is evidence that a lesser charge is warranted.
If your charges are downgraded to only misdemeanors, your case will stay in district court. If your felonies remain, your case will proceed to the Superior Court, according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch.
A Lawyer From our Team Can Aid You in the Pre-Trial Process
After a probable cause hearing, your case can either go to trial or you can enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution. A criminal defense lawyer from our team can file for discovery and other pre-trial motions to prepare for trial and contest the evidence against you.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer can cross-examine the witnesses who testify against you and respond to the prosecution’s arguments.
The Judge will Sentence You Using Guidelines set By North Carolina Criminal Law
The jury will render a verdict. If you are convicted, the judge will sentence you by using North Carolina’s sentencing guidelines. Your sentence will be based on your prior record score and the classification of the charges of which you were convicted or to which you pled guilty. You can be sentenced to:
- Community punishment
- Intermediate punishment
- Active punishment
Community punishment is the least restrictive sentence. Community punishment can include:
- Community service
- Mental health treatment
- Substance abuse treatment
For minor crimes or first offenses, the prosecution may agree to a deferred prosecution, which allows the charges to be dismissed if you complete certain requirements. These requirements may include mental health, behavioral or substance abuse treatment, and possibly community service. Additionally, you cannot commit new offenses while on deferred prosecution.
Intermediate punishment can consist of:
- House arrest
- Probation with more restrictive monitoring requirements
- Work release
Active punishment consists of incarceration. Certain felonies require active punishment.
Your sentence may include court costs, fines, and restitution to the victim. If you are sentenced to probation or parole, violating your terms of supervision can result in revocation of your probation, meaning you can be sent to jail or prison to serve active time.
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, Today to get Started on Your Case
When you are arrested for a crime, you can face serious consequences, ranging from a permanent criminal record to incarceration. When you are charged with a crime, you may want to contact a Rutherfordton criminal defense lawyer from our team to ensure your rights are protected.
If you are facing criminal charges, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, today for a free consultation.