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Criminal Law in North Carolina

If you’re researching North Carolina criminal defense attorneys, this article is for you. Each and every criminal case is unique. A criminal defense lawyer must carefully investigate and analyze circumstances and evidence to determine the best defense strategy for your individual situation.

In this article (which is based upon North Carolina criminal law), we’ll discuss:

  • Specific North Carolina criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in North Carolina; and
  • How to work with your North Carolina criminal defense attorney.

North Carolina Criminal Laws

North Carolina criminal laws are found in North Carolina General Statutes, Title 14. Criminal defense lawyers have a working knowledge of North Carolina criminal law, including crimes and defenses.

There are hundreds of crimes listed, including racial hate crimes, domestic abuse, assault by pointing a gun at someone, malicious castration, hazing, human trafficking, using drugs to try to destroy an unborn child, computer crimes, and murder.

Your defense attorney will explain the crime you are being questioned for or have been arrested for.

Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. Statutes of limitations are listed in the North Carolina General Statutes, Title 15.

For example, in North Carolina, the statute of limitations for:

  • Misdemeanor – 2 years
  • Malicious Misdemeanors – none
  • Felonies – none

Capital punishment, jail time, home confinement, fines, restitution, probation, and community service are available.

In addition, North Carolina has sentencing guidelines that seek to provide uniform punishment. A point system is used to analyze and systemize criminal sentencing. Judges often have discretion in doling out punishment. They weigh previous criminal history and aggravated circumstances.

In general, in North Carolina, sentencing guidelines call for:

  • Between no jail time and one year in jail for a misdemeanor.
  • More than one year for conviction of a felony.

Your criminal defense attorney will let you know of the punishment you face for your specific case.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

  • Hiring an attorney doesn’t signal the courts or a jury that you did anything wrong.
  • You need a lawyer even if you know you are innocent.
  • Call a criminal defense attorney right away so you don’t say or do something that will incriminate you and so evidence is preserved.
  • You need to be completely honest with your attorney.
  • Ask for a criminal defense attorney if you are not free to leave.

How to Work with a North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Know that everything your attorney does is in your best interests.
  • It’s okay for your criminal defense lawyer to cooperate with police officers, detectives, and the prosecutor. It’s better to build bridges than to burn them.
  • You are paying for legal advice and your future is at risk; heed your lawyer’s advice. Your lawyer knows how to handle the situation better than you do.
  • Remember, writers create the criminal law you see on T.V. It’s not real.
  • Answer your attorney’s questions fully and politely.
  • Even if your attorney asks you difficult questions, answer. Everything has a reason.
  • Explain what happened. Even if a fact makes you look bad, you need to disclose it.
  • Your attorney is on your side and will keep what you said confidential.
  • Respond to all communications in a timely manner.
  • Provide all requested information immediately.
  • Make sure the criminal defense office always has your current contact information.

Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or Google, “How to find a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney”.

Bottom Line: You MUST consult with and hire a criminal defense lawyer to be able to choose and put forth your best defenses. Even though you have the legal right to self-representation, there is just too much at risk to consider going it alone.

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