Finding a skilled criminal defense lawyer that will keep you informed is key.
If you have been arrested, it is important to understand the trial stages and legal process so that you can make an educated decision about what is best for you. The attorneys at Dobson Law will keep you informed about what is going on with your case from start to finish, providing you with exception legal guidance through all phases. Our Raleigh attorneys are zealous advocates who help you fight against the tactics of the district attorney and law enforcement officers who want nothing more than another conviction under their belt. At Dobson Law, our attorneys look out for your best interests and your needs.
How the system works
Once you are charged, you should not discuss what you are charged with, or the circumstances, with anyone. Those statements can be used against you. Immediately call our firm so that you can understand the seriousness of your charges, and the best method for handling your case. IF your case does go to trial, below are some things to know:
- Type of trial — Cases involving misdemeanor charges are resolved in District Court. There is typically a trial by judge alone. The outcome of this trial can be appealed and a jury trial can take place. Felonies are resolved in Superior Court, except in cases where the District Attorney offers a misdemeanor plea. Felony trials typically have a 12-person jury.
- Jury selection — Both the prosecutors and defense attorney’s will be able to ask juror members pre-approved questions to ensure they can be fair and impartial when deciding your case. Each side has a number of jurors they can ask to be removed without cause. During the questions, if a juror proves to have a bias and cannot be fair, then any juror can be removed for cause regardless of how many have already been removed.
- Opening statements —At the beginning of trial, the criminal defense attorney and prosecutor each make an opening statement to the judge/jury. This statement is a basic outline of the case and the evidence they intend to introduce to prove their side of the case.
- Introducing Evidence — Both sides have the opportunity to introduce evidence that is relevant to their case. Attorneys can also attempt to limit the use of some evidence, or prevent its use as a whole, through motions before and during the trial. An example of evidence that might be excluded is evidence that is irrelevant, misleading, obtained illegally, or violates your constitutional rights.
- Cross-examination — Both sides have the right to call witnesses to testify at trial. Both sides get the opportunity to cross-examine the other sides witnesses. In cases where the defendant decides to testify, the prosecution can ask the defendant questions as well.
- Closing arguments — After all evidence and testimony have been given, both sides give a closing statement. This is a summary that reminds the jury of all of the evidence that were presented that helped to prove their argument or evidence that weakened the other side’s argument.
- Deliberation — Before deliberation begins, the judge will give the jury instructions on how to determine if the defendant is guilty or innocent. Once the jury begins deliberation, their decision to find someone guilty or innocent must be unanimous.
- Post-trial motions — If a jury finds the defendant guilty, the defense lawyer commonly moves that the judge disregard the decision and issue an acquittal.
- Sentencing — In most situations, the judge accepts the decision of the jury. If the jury has found the defendant guilty, both sides can present evidence as to what sentence the judge should deliver based on state/federal law. This may include jail, fines, probation, house arrest, and community service. In some cases, substance abuse counseling is also mandatory.
- Appeals — The losing side in a jury trial has the right to appeal the ruling, typically arguing that certain evidence should have been thrown out or that some witness testimony was unreliable. If successful, the defendant may be awarded a new trial.
While this is how the process general works, each case can vary depending on the circumstance and charges. It is absolutely important to have an attorney to guide you through this process. Regardless of whether it is drugs, assault, domestic violence, or other charges, you need someone to protect your rights and help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney today!
If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina, contact Dobson Law immediately for the guidance and advice you need. Our criminal defense lawyers serve clients in Raleigh, Cary, Wake County, Durham County, and Lee County. Schedule a consultation today by calling 919-591-2240 or emailing us.