Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from Our Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney
Once you are charged with a crime, the clock starts ticking to form a plan for your defense. With the prosecution doing everything they can to paint you as a villain, you need help from a legal professional who understands the legal strategy that can best help you avoid a conviction. At Smith Horton Law, our Charlotte criminal defense attorney formerly served as an Assistant District Attorney, giving him an insider’s perspective of how to best defend his clients. Below you will find answers to questions we often hear at Smith Horton Law. Feel free to call our firm with any other issues you have.
Dial (704) 734-9797 now and get started planning your legal strategy. You can also contact Smith Horton Law online.
What should I say to police?
Ideally, nothing. While the police have an important job to do as far as protecting people from danger, they are not necessarily on your side. Because anything you say can be used against you, the less you say, the better. You should first contact a Charlotte criminal defense attorney who can get your side of the story and plan a legal strategy to protect your future.
What can I expect throughout court proceedings?
Following your criminal charge, the first courtroom meeting will be an arraignment where your crimes will be recounted to you. Depending on how you plead—guilty, not guilty, or no contest—your case may proceed to trial. In all of these proceedings, it is important to have help from a lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Prosecutors do everything they can to ensure you are convicted, so the best way to protect yourself is to be better prepared than they are.
How can I prepare for a criminal trial?
Ideally, your case will not go to trial. For first-time drug offenders, for example, there are plea bargains your attorney may be able to negotiate that will allow you to avoid criminal sentencing and the related penalties. These plea bargains require that you do not commit the same crime again within a certain number of years.
If your case does go to trial, preparation is key. At Smith Horton Law, we prepare for trial with extensive research. By examining all the evidence in your case, we can uncover details the police or prosecution may have missed. You are protected by attorney-client confidentiality, so it is important that you are completely honest and forthcoming with your legal advocate.
I’ve been wrongfully convicted. I need help overturning the verdict. What now?
Once you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you have 14 days to submit a notice of appeal. The court will set a date for your appeal, then you will present your case that your verdict was unfairly reached. In order to successfully appeal the decision, you will need to prove there were errors during your sentencing.
What are the penalties for felonies and misdemeanors?
In North Carolina, your criminal penalty is determined by the severity of the crime and whether or not you have criminal history. Class I felonies—the lowest-grade felony—comes with a prison sentence of 3-12 months, and the penalties increase all the way to life imprisonment for Class A felonies (murder). If you have a criminal history, points are added to your charge that can increase your overall sentence severity. Speak with the Charlotte attorneys at Smith Horton Law for more information.
I was arrested for drunk driving. What should I do now?
The first thing you need to do is hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer. At Smith Horton Law, we have helped many clients avoid criminal sentencing by helping them tell their side of the story. While North Carolina has tough drunk driving laws, they may be a little more lenient if this is your first DUI. As your advocate, our team will do whatever we can to reduce your sentence or have it suspended. You will be required to undergo a substance abuse assessment to determine whether or not you need treatment. Your license may also be suspended.
Why should I fight a traffic ticket?
We get it—paying a ticket and getting it over with is easier than fighting it in court. While this convenient solution seems like a good method, the truth is that points can add up quickly and lead to the loss of your license before you know it. In addition, North Carolina charges insurance points, meaning your rates must increase, often costing far more over the long run than the price of fighting a ticket. At Smith Horton Law, we have helped many clients to keep their driving privileges. Let us help you.
What should I look for in a criminal defense attorney?
Your highest priority should be ensuring your attorney is ready to aggressively fight for you in protecting your interests. Their attitude is important because without that intention to keep you from a conviction, the prosecution will be able to enforce the most severe penalties. Because state and county prosecutors take steps to paint defendants as criminals, your criminal defense lawyer should know how to fight back. Attorney Jeremy Smith at Smith Horton Law formerly worked as an Assistant District Attorney, giving him the experience and insights of how these proceedings go. Finally, a free consultation is always a good idea. Our team can provide you with information right away to give you hope for your case. Call now.
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