North Carolina Criminal Law FAQs
FAQs About General Criminal Law Matters
- I just got a traffic ticket, do I need a lawyer?
- How much is an attorney going to cost me?
- What is the difference between a citation and arrest?
- What can I expect at my first court date?
- I missed my court date, what can I do?
- Can I get my charges dismissed?
- Won’t my case be dismissed if the officer who gave me the citation isn’t in court?
- Can I get my criminal history expunged?
- How can I find out what is on my criminal history?
- What is a TRO?
- I’ve already been to court once; can I hire an attorney now?
It is always a good idea to be represented in court by an attorney. In North Carolina a prosecutor in criminal handles traffic tickets. There is an option to mail in payment and sign the back of your ticket but you must understand what that means. By signing the back of your ticket you are pleading guilty to whatever offense the citation is issued for. Points against your driver’s license will be assessed based on your guilty plea. The guilty plea will be used against you by your insurance company, causing your premium to increase. The increases can be substantial depending on how severe the citation is. An attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor in hopes of getting a lesser charge, ideally a non-moving violation which would not result in driving license points. That means your insurance should not increase, saving you money in the long run.
Our fees are competitive and vary greatly depending on your individual case. A simple plea negotiation can be a one time, nominal fee while a case that involves multiple serious charges that goes to trial can be much more costly. We value your hard earned money and will never inflate our costs. We accept all major credit cards and offer payment plans in certain situations.
A citation is an informal arrest where you are not taken into custody. Rather than being taken into custody, an officer gives you a citation with your offense(s) written on it and your next court date. You are required to appear in court on that date.
A formal arrest is when you are taken into custody. You will have to appear before a Judge or Magistrate where, in the majority of cases, a bond issued. You will be given instructions on how to pay your bond and your next court date. You are required to appear in court on that date.
In either situation, contact us for a free consultation so we can discuss your individual case and potential outcomes.
Court appearances can differ from county to county. If you hire an attorney prior to the court date, you may not have to appear. An attorney can appear on your behalf and speak with the prosecutor handling your case in an attempt to resolve it or get your next court date. If you do have to appear, your attorney will be with you and explain what is going to happen.
If you appear without an attorney you will most likely have to check in and wait until your case is called. You may get an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor about your case and will most likely be given a future court date. Always wear professional clothing, no shorts, flip-flops or tank tops and be respectful to all the court personnel. A good attitude can go a long way.
When you miss a required court date you most likely are issued a Failure to Appear (FTA) or an Order for Arrest. Call us to discuss how we can strike the FTA or Order for Arrest.
Yes, in certain circumstances. We can discuss what might qualify you for getting your charge(s) dismissed and that can be the goal of our negotiations with the prosecutor. There may be several steps you must take in order for your charge(s) to be dismissed and we will explain those to you.
Most likely, no. Many times the prosecutor can ask the court to continue your case to a future court date to allow the officer to be present. Judges typically grant such requests if they are reasonably made without the intent to unnecessarily delay your case.
Yes, in certain circumstances. Learn more about getting your criminal history expunged here (link to our expunctions page).
Attorneys can access your complete North Carolina criminal history on computers provided in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse and print off records for you.
A TRO is a Temporary Restraining Order. In certain circumstances a Judge or Magistrate will grant a TRO prohibiting a person from having contact with another person. There can be serious consequences for violating a TRO.
You are able to hire an attorney at any point before the final resolution of your case. As long as you did not enter a plea in your previous court appearance we can represent you from this point on. It is always wise to hire an attorney as soon as possible because there are some actions that cannot be undone and certain relief is time sensitive.