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 immediately contact 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 contacting a Rutherfordton criminal defense lawyer.
A lawyer can:
- Represent you at trial
- Negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor
- Subpoena evidence in your case
- Recruit witnesses to testify at trial
- Petition to reduce your bail
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.
A lawyer can advocate for you during your case and ensure that your rights are protected.
Call Farmer & Morris today at (828) 286-3866 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your criminal case.
Potential Charges You May Face After Arrest
In North Carolina, you can be charged with a crime in three different ways: a summons, a citation, or 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 G.S. § 15A-534(a), the conditions of your release are based on your:
- Prior criminal history
- Whether you are on probation, parole, or pretrial release
- Likelihood of appearing at your next hearing
- Ties to the community
- Whether you are a flight risk
For a free legal consultation with a criminal defense lawyer serving Rutherfordton, call 828.286.3866
What May Occur After Your Arrest
The initial hearing 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.
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. Bail must be reasonable. Once your bail is set, your attorney can petition to lower it if you can not afford the required security. You can pay bail with cash, assets, or through a bail bondsman.
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 at (828) 286-3866 for a free consultation.
Rutherfordton Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me 828.286.3866
What You Need to Know About Your First Appearance
If you are charged a felony or certain misdemeanors, you must have a first appearance within 96 hours of your arrest. You have the right to be represented by a Rutherfordton criminal defense lawyer at your first appearance under G.S. § 15A-601 (a1). During your first appearance, the district court judge will:
- Inform you about your right to counsel
- Inform you about your right against self-incrimination
- Will 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
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 a document published by the North Carolina Judicial Branch pertaining to the North Carolina Criminal Justice Process.
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A Lawyer 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 lawyer 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 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, intermediate, or active punishment.
Community punishment is the least restrictive sentence. Community punishment can include probation, community service, and mental health and 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 such as mental health, behavioral, or substance abuse treatment and possibly community service. Additionally, you cannot commit new offenses while on the deferred prosecution.
Intermediate punishment can consist of house arrest, probation with more restrictive monitoring requirements, or 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 to ensure your rights are protected.
If you are facing criminal charges, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC today at (828) 286-3866 for a free consultation.