Selected Federal Case Results
Methamphetamine Trafficking Case Reduced (2019)
Client facing 10-year mandatory minimum and charged with conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to deliver after Raleigh Police Officers, operating through an undercover officer, tracked the client and another man traveling from Texas to North Carolina. The client, who declined to cooperate with authorities, received a 40 month sentence after an Eastern District of North Carolina judge found that that the client was eligible for a “Safety Valve” under 18 U.S.C.3553(f).
Shooting at Club (2019)
Client, released from custody after serving six-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, was caught on video shooting a handgun in the parking lot of a club in Vance County. Mr. Chetson hung an Elizabeth City federal jury after four jurors refused to convict the client of felon in possession of a firearm following a trial at which video of the client holding the firearm was played in the courtroom.
Cocaine Conspiracy, Sentence Reduced (2017)
Client faced a 5 to 40 year sentence in a federal cocaine trafficking case involving a major Mexican cartel. Client testified at the trial of co-defendants, both of whom were convicted and one of whom received a life sentence. Client received a two year sentence.
Pollution from Ships Prosecution (2016)
Client, a crew member on a Liberia-flagged, Greek-owned shipping vessel, was involved in a multiyear investigation by the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes division for alleged violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the MARPOL treaty. Client testified at trial about the company’s lax environmental safety controls and other crewmembers’ use of a “magic pipe” to dump pollutants into the ocean. Defendants were found guilty; client received whistleblower reward pursuant to statute.
Dog Fighting / Drugs / Firearms Case (2016)
Halifax County client originially charged in state court, was later prosecuted by federal authorities for raising dogs for the purpose of engaging in an animal fighting enterprise, and of hosting animal fighting tournaments. Law enforcement recovered several dozen dogs. Client rejected numerous plea offers, and ordered Mr. Chetson to prepare for trial. After filing suppression motions related to the search of the home and an outbuilding, Government offered an acceptable plea. Government asked for 7 years at sentencing. After Mr. Chetson’s sentencing presentation, judge imposed a 120-day sentence with probation.
Federal Tax Fraud Case: Reduced Sentence (2015)
Client, arrested in connection with a major tax fraud conspiracy spanning multiple countries and subject to media coverage, faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and a 10 year maximum sentence. Mr. Chetson was able to help negotiate a drastically reduced sentence.
Federal Tax and Identity Theft Case: No Prosecution (2015)
Client subpoenaed to testify before Eastern District grand jury in federal tax fraud case. Subpoena withdrawn and agreement not to prosecute negotiated with federal prosecutors in exchange for debrief with Internal Revenue Service agents.
Child Pornography Distribution Case: Reduced Punishment (2015)
Client, arrested by the state of North Carolina, gave a full confession to downloading massive amounts of child pornography from the internet, and distributing child pornography through peer-to-peer networks. The case was later adopted by the federal government, and Mr. Chetson was retained to represent client in that portion of the case. Mr. Chetson negotiated a dismissal of several counts of distribution of child pornography, and argued for a below guidelines result that avoided the worst consequences for the client.
Federal Bank Robbery and Gun Case / 924(c) (2015)
Client serving state sentence for bank robberies was charged by federal government with related robberies. Mr. Chetson was appointed to represent client in federal case. Client had a serious criminal history. Mr. Chetson negotiated dismissal of other state charges and a resolution that earned client a below-guidelines sentence, and shorter sentence than any other co-defendant.
Federal Mortgage Fraud Case: No Prosecution (2014)
Employee of a real estate development company implicated in massive federal mortgage fraud conspiracy. In exchange for cooperation, Mr. Chetson negotiated a non-prosecution of the matter. Client faced no criminal charges.
Homicide, Semi-Automatic Rifle & PCP Federal Trial (2013)
Client charged with conspiracy to distribute PCP and a 924(c) (gun charge) resulting in the death of another drug dealer confessed during an hour-long interview with Wilmington police. Facing a certain life sentence, client opted for a trial. Mr. Chetson, along with co-counsel, demanded a suppression hearing, arguing police misconduct had infringed client’s rights. After the hearing, and at trial, Mr. Chetson challenged a confidential informant’s version of events, showing that the informant had been paid for his cooperation. After more than three hours of deliberation (more than twice the length of client’s videotaped confession that was shown to jury), jury found client guilty of conspiracy and the related gun charge.
Marijuana Cartel Distribution, Safety Valve Granted (2012)
A client of The Chetson Firm was charged in federal court by the United States Government in a major drug trafficking conspiracy involving ties to a large international cartel and large quantities of controlled substances. Mr. Chetson was able to negotiate a resolution involving a 3553(f) safety valve, and a substantially reduced sentence with no additional time for other criminal activity. Client is now home with his family.
Butner Prison Guard, Reduced Sentence (2011)
Client, employed by the Bureau of Prisons at a federal prison as a correctional officer, was accused with attempting to smuggle large quantities of heroin into the facility. Client was videotaped by federal drug task force officers during one transaction where client was allegedly attempting to purchase 8 ounces of heroin. Mr. Chetson negotiated a result in which the client received a below-guidelines result. Client is now home with his family.
Federal Non-Prosecutions (2011 to present)
Multiple different clients, who cannot be identified here, have avoided federal prosecution owing to Mr. Chetson’s representation either by negotiating non-prosecution resolutions, or through cooperation. Because these people have never been charged, no attempt will be made here to discuss the particular disposition of those cases.
Selected Drug Offense Results
Court of Appeals Grants Partial Victory (2016)
Client rejected numerous misdemeanor offers in spite of strong evidence of misconduct. Client sought a jury trial. Wake County Superior Court Judge dismissed one felony at the close of state’s evidence. After being convicted of felonies, Mr. Chetson appealed the case to the Court of Appeals and client was assigned appellate counsel. Appeal, prosecuted by the Office of the Appellate Defender, held that Mr. Chetson’s motion to dismiss a second felony should have been granted and that a third felony should be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Felony Drug Diversion Program for Felony Prescription Fraud Charge (2015)
A client was charged with felony prescription fraud. He was entered into a felony drug diversion program, which will enable him to escape any criminal conviction and have the matter expunged from his record.
Charges Dismissed on Marijuana Possession Case (2015)
A client was stopped by a police officer and searched. The client was arrested on suspicion of possessing less than a half ounce of marijuana. He had no prior criminal record, but was on a deferral program for a previous marijuana charge. Damon Chetson negotiated an agreement with the State where the client completed additional community service, and the charges were dismissed. The client has completed community service and still has a spotless record.
Drug Trafficking Dismissed
Client charged with more than 20 kilograms of cocaine in a massive inter-state drug conspiracy. North Carolina charges dismissed.
Felony Drug Charges Dismissed in Exchange for Community Service and Drug Education
Police arrested a client on suspicion of possessing prescription pills with the intent to sell them. No sale was actually observed. The client has a scholarship to attend university, which would be placed in jeopardy by a Felony conviction. Damon Chetson negotiated an agreement with the State where the State agreed to dismiss these felony drug charges in exchange for the client completing a year of community service and drug education programs.Felony Drug Charges Dismissed in Exchange for Community Service and Drug Education
Phlebotomist at a North Carolina hospital charged with diverting hydromorphone (Dilaudid) from the hospital’s pharmacy and from patients. Client was interviewed by hospital administrators before retaining Mr. Chetson and confessed to the conduct. After several months of negotiations with state prosecutors, client was permitted to complete a drug treatment program in exchange for a dismissal of all charges and restoration of the client’s license.Felony Drug Sales to Confidential Informant
Client recorded on audio equipment making multiple sales to confidential informant working with local police. While client had previous misdemeanors, he had no felonies and required that he not be convicted of a felony in this case in order to keep his job. After 8 months of negotiations with the assistant district attorney, who initially refused to reduce the charges below a felony, Mr. Chetson was able to secure a misdemeanor plea with no jail time.Multiple Drug Counts Dismissed; Misdemeanor Plea
Client with substantial felony history was stopped on multiple occasions and charged with various felony drug offenses, including maintaining a dwelling, and possession with intent to sell and deliver. Mr. Chetson negotiated a reduction of all charges to a misdemeanor, in exchange for a brief active jail sentence of 30 days.Heroin Possession Charges Dismissed
Client charged with possession of heroin after a colleague was caught sleeping in client’s car in a park. Police sought to charge client with the offense, but charges were ultimately dismissed after a resolution negotiated by Mr. Chetson.Sex Offense Charges Resolved with Consolidated Judgment/Dismissals
Client charged with rape involving niece on multiple occasions and in multiple counties. Before retaining Mr. Chetson, client was read his rights and confessed to some of the acts. Mr. Chetson had client evaluated by a specialist in sex-related disorders, and was able to negotiate a dismissal of all out-of-county charges, and consolidated sentences in Wake County that avoid life sentence and allow client to return to his family.Sex Offense Charges Reduced to Misdemeanor
Client charged with indecent liberties with a minor related to an incident involving his granddaughter. At Mr. Chetson’s direction, client enrolled in group therapy. Charges reduced to misdemeanor sexual battery.Charges Reduced to Sexual Battery
Client charged with rape of a niece. After a nearly year long defense, client’s charges were reduced to sexual battery on the eve of trial with the state’s agreement that the client could plead by North Carolina v. Alford.
Selected Sex-Related Case Results
Child Pornography Investigation
Department of Homeland Security agents and state officers raided 23-year old’s apartment after tracking software detected large amounts of child pornography. Before hiring the Chetson Firm, client admitted to conduct. We arranged for client to cooperate with authorities in apprehending manufacturers of the illegal pornography; arrest avoided, and no prosecution.Multiple Rape Counts
Client was arrested and confessed to sexually assaulting niece during multiple visits to his brother’s home. Client’s conduct spanned two counties, and multiple different acts occurring over a more than two year period. After extensive negotiations, including the use of a forensic psychologist, client sentenced to one term with quick release. Seven counts dismissed.Wake County Teacher Sex with Student
Parents accused Wake County distinguished and beloved school teacher with an on-going sexual relationship with underage student he was tutoring. After retaining The Chetson Firm, client resigned post and was never charged in spite of the school district efforts to prosecute.Child Pornography and Solicitation of a Minor
Client downloaded pornography through peer-to-peer sharing networks and engaged in graphic conversations with an “aunt” offering to allow client to have sex with her minor child. Law enforcement attached tracking device to client’s car to track movements. Charges never filed.Rape Charge Reduced to Misdemeanor
High School student had sex with underage girl who was later found lying in a ditch after having consumed too much alcohol. Client confessed, not know that the offense was statutory rape with a decades long sentence. We negotiated a misdemeanor result.Statutory Rape Case Reduced
35-year-old Client engaged in a two year “relationship” with a girl starting at age 12. Multiple incidents of sex could have resulted in an effective life-sentence. Negotiated a 6 year sentence, with no conviction to rape.Child Pornography Case Never Prosecuted
Returning Iraq War veteran was confronted one evening by police who accused him of trafficking in child pornography. After we showed police that the Wi-Fi network used by our client was not secure, and that anyone could have used the network, police declined to prosecute the case.Rape Case Dismissed
Client accused and admitted to having sex with his underage cousin. Even after DNA was returned that showed client’s DNA on a rag the girl turned over to police, we were able to negotiate a purely probationary sentence.Plea Deal Avoids 12 Month Prison Sentence
The Chetson Firm represented a client that was charged with Larceny, which could have meant 12 months in prison. Mr. Chetson negotiated a plea resulting in a purely probationary sentence. In addition, Mr. Chetson was able to secure unsupervised probation upon payment of restitution, which resulted in no special conditions of probation.Father Molested Daughter, Misdemeanor
Client admitted to police and ex-wife that he inappropriately touched their 14 year old daughter. After submitting the client to extensive therapy and psychological testing, prosecutor reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and client avoided sex offender registry.CPS Allegations Refuted
After presenting evidence to Child Protective Services that daughter’s allegations of sexual abuse were motivated by a bitter divorce, CPS declined to move forward with termination of parental rights.Negotiation With Police to Avoid Embezzlement Charges
A client was accused of embezzling more than $25,000 in cash from his employer. After heeding Mr. Chetson’s advice, the client politely declined to speak with police, and Mr. Chetson took over negotiations. No charges were ever filed.Foster Child’s Accusations Refuted
Foster child accused father of molestation. We showed that foster child had an extensive history of false accusations, and past abuse that caused CPS and prosecutors to close the investigation with no further action.Child Pornography Case Closed, No Charges
We intervened early after client hired us to help with a investigation by a local police department into questionable online activity. We were able to convince police that the single act was inadvertent, and not indicative of repeated predatory behavior. All computer equipment was returned.
Driving While Impaired Case Results
Hung Jury: DWI
Client was charged with a DWI involving allegations that he had taken medication earlier in the evening that had made him drowsy. After performing poorly on the field sobriety tests, client was arrested for DWI and his blood was drawn and analyzed by the City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI). After 3 hours of deliberations, the jury was dismissed after hanging.Not Guilty: DWI on Motorcycle
Client was charged with a DWI after laying his motorcycle down when a car in front of him made a sudden stop. The police officer, instead of citing the driver of the car, followed the client on his motorcycle and stopped the client in the driveway of his home a short distance away. Mr. Chetson argued that in fact there was no evidence of impairment, and that all of the “clues” cited by the officer were simply clues of a person who had recently nearly had a violent collision with a car.Who was the real driver? Not guilty
Client was charged with a DWI, his second in seven years which could have resulted in up to two years in prison. In a two-day bench trial, Mr. Chetson argued that there was no evidence that the client had, in fact, been driving the car, even though he was found slumped in the driver seat and later blew a .28 on the breathalyzer machine.Hung Jury. Dismissed DWI
Client charged with his fourth DWI while on probation, facing a sentence of at least a year in prison. Mr. Chetson defendant the client in a jury trial that resulted in the jury deadlocked in favor of acquittal. The District Attorney’s office decided not to re-try the case, and subsequently dismissed all charges.DWI Dismissed When State Failed to Prove Speeding
DWI involving a high BAC (more than .15) was dismissed because the State could not prove a constitutional ground for the stop. The officer alleged that he stopped the vehicle for speeding, and thereafter detected impairment. Mr. Chetson fought the case on the legality of the stop. The officer testified that Mr. Chetson’s client had gone from 0 to 45 and then had come to a complete stop, all within one city block. Mr. Chetson led the officer through math that showed that those speeds were impossible for any vehicle, much less a decade-old car, to attain in such short a distance. Case dismissed.Client Found Not Guilty When State Couldn’t Prove He Was Driving
A client of The Chetson Firm was charged with Driving While Impaired following an accident. He registered a .15 on the Intoxilyzer (breathalyzer) machine, nearly twice the legal limit. Police had found the client in the car following an accident. He faced a mandatory one-year suspension of his license, and fines and court costs that could’ve totaled nearly $1,000, and a suspended jail sentence of 60 days with 12 months of probation. Following a District Court trial in which Mr. Chetson argued that the State could not prove the client was driving the vehicle and the State could not prove the vehicle was operated on North Carolina roads, a judge found the client not guilty of all charges.Raleigh DWI District Court Punishment Reduced In Superior Court
A client was charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) and was convicted in District Court of the DWI. He was fined hundreds of dollars and placed on probation for a year. The Chetson Firm appealed the client’s conviction to Superior Court and went to trial. While the client – who blew a .12 – was convicted of the DWI, Raleigh DWI lawyer Damon Chetson was able to plead for mercy and the judge imposed less than $100 in total court costs and fines and placed the client on probation for just 6 months, half of the normal DWI sentence. The client was overjoyed by the result.Raleigh DWI Charge Involving Accident Dismissed In Court
A client of The Chetson Firm was charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI) after his car struck another vehicle. After legal maneuvering, Mr. Chetson was able to secure a dismissal of charges after the state failed to provide a key witness in the case on the day of trial.Raleigh DWI Punishment Cut by More Than Half
A client was charged with a Driving While Impaired (DWI). In District court, the client was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation (60 days in jail suspended) and $450 days in fines. The Chetson Firm appealed the case to Superior Court, resulting in a sentence that was reduced to 6 months unsupervised probation (15 days in jail suspended) and $62 in fines.Raleigh DWI Dismissed
A client was charged with a Driving While Impaired (DWI) after blowing a .07 and having marijuana found in her vehicle. The client was charged with a DWI, Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana. On the eve of jury trial, the District Attorney dismissed the case citing lack of evidence. The client walked away with not a single conviction from this event.
Selected Results from Other Case Types
State Seeks Death Penalty; Life Sentence Imposed
Client convicted by a jury of three counts of first-degree murder for the shotgun slaying of a former business partner, his wife, and mother. Client was sane at the time of the offense. Along with co-counsel, presented significant mental health and other mitigators that helped secure the client a life sentence from a Wake County jury.Multiple Robberies: Reduced Sentence
Client on parole charged with multiple robberies of convenience stores, sweepstakes parlors, and similar establishments. Client faced more than 500 months in prison, in addition to revocation of parole. Mr. Chetson negotiated a 30 month sentence, with credit for 8 months of time served.Wal-Mart Robbery: Exonerated
After providing the District Attorney with evidence exonerating client, with a violent criminal history, of participation in a Wal-Mart robbery in Wake County, Mr. Chetson’s Motion for Appropriate Relief filed on a Friday afternoon was granted, and client was released from prison later that evening.Harboring a Fugitive: Dismissed
After showing the District Attorney that client was unaware of the felony status of the person staying at his home, the District Attorney dismissed felony charges against client.Obtaining Property False Pretenses: Dismissed
Client visited a local Raleigh car dealership to purchase a car. When client discovered that the car was misrepresented to her, car dealership pursued bogus fraud charges against client for cancelling payment. Mr. Chetson showed the District Attorney that the car dealership had fraudulently filed registration paperwork with the Division of Motor Vehicles.Charges Reduced from Felonies to Misdemeanors
A client charged with Felony Breaking and Entering of a residence had his charges reduced on the eve of trial, preserving his ability to obtain an expunction (because of his age at the time of the offense. Co-defendants had previously been convicted of felony breaking & entering or felony larceny, and the State sought a similar result in this case. But, after having fully prepared for trial, the State offered a misdemeanor result.Not Guilty Verdict on Robbery and Kidnapping Charges
A client was charged with four counts of robbery and four counts of kidnapping. The Chetson Firm served as second chair at a seven day Wake County jury trial where the client was found not guilty of all charges.Deferred Prosecution Agreement With No Criminal Conviction for Stealing Property Charge
A client was charged in state felony court with stealing property along with several other friends. The episode was a college prank resulting in the loss of property to an owner/victim. Upon payment of restitution to the owner/victim, Mr. Chetson was able to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement that resulted in no criminal conviction to the client.Dismissal of Charges on Appeal for Domestic Violence and Immigration Issues
Another attorney represented a client in District Court on an issue involving domestic violence. The client was convicted after a District Court trial. He then hired Mr. Chetson to resolve the matter on appeal. The matter involved a complicated immigration issue as well as the domestic violence issue. Mr. Chetson was able to negotiate a dismissal of charges after the client completed counseling and community service.Plea Deal Avoids 12 Month Prison Sentence
The Chetson Firm represented a client that was charged with Larceny, which could have meant 12 months in prison. Mr. Chetson negotiated a plea resulting in a purely probationary sentence. In addition, Mr. Chetson was able to secure unsupervised probation upon payment of restitution, which resulted in no special conditions of probation.Successful Plea Agreement for Multiple Rape and Associated Sex Offense Charges
A client was charged with multiple counts of rape and associated sex offenses which would have meant that he would have served more than a 1,000 months (80 years) in prison. Along with co-counsel, Mr. Chetson, after two years of intensive work and investigation, identified serious deficiencies in the state’s case, including missing evidence that resulted in a plea agreement involving approximately 35 months in prison without admitting personal guilt.Client Avoids Charges in Embezzlement Accusation
The Chetson Firm represented a client that was accused of embezzlement thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from an employer. Mr. Chetson negotiated a resolution whereby the client reimbursed the employer without admitting any responsibility. Police closed the case without ever filing charges and the client avoided any charges at all.Negotiation With Police to Avoid Embezzlement Charges
A client was accused of embezzling more than $25,000 in cash from his employer. After heeding Mr. Chetson’s advice, the client politely declined to speak with police, and Mr. Chetson took over negotiations. No charges were ever filed.No Charges Filed and No Admission of Guilt on Embezzlement Accusation
The client was accused of embezzling roughly $1,000 from an organization. With Mr. Chetson’s assistance, the client reimbursed the organization without admitting guilt, and no charges were ever filed.Two-Year Plea Agreement in the Face of a 30 Year Sentence
A client represented by The Chetson Firm was charged with 10 counts of felony use of counterfeit trademark goods, as well as multiple counts of various gun charges with a total exposure of more than 30 years in prison. After negotiations with the District Attorney, including discussion of the client’s background, the non-violence of his conduct, and his other good character traits, Mr. Chetson arrived at a plea agreement involving less than two years in prison, an outstanding result giving the potential for more than 30 years behind bars.Not Guilty for Robbery With A Dangerous Weapon Just in the Nick of Time
A client was charged with Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon (RWDW), a Class D felony, for allegedly robbing a convenience store in downtown Raleigh along with three other people. No one was caught the day of the robbery. Three weeks later, the client went into the same store to buy something. The shopkeeper, thinking he had identified one of the people who robbed him three weeks earlier, tackled the client and called police. He was held in custody for more than eight (8) months awaiting trial. Three days before trial, after meeting the client for the first time, Damon Chetson located alibi evidence that proved conclusively that he had not been one of the robbers, and that the shopkeeper had misidentified him. The jury returned a not-guilty verdict within 5 minutes of beginning deliberations.Dismissal of Simple Assault Charges
A client and her spouse had an argument, resulting in charges against the client of simple assault, a class 2 misdemeanor. Damon Chetson negotiated an agreement with the State where the client completed anger management classes. As part of the agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the criminal charges. The client still has a spotless record.
Disclaimer: The listed cases do not represent the entire record of cases handled by The Chetson Firm. The outcome of a particular case cannot be guaranteed. Each case is different, and in other cases, clients of The Chetson Firm have incurred criminal punishment and convictions. The cases discussed above cover the period from January 2010 to present. All cases were prosecuted by attorneys for the State of North Carolina or United States Attorneys in the Eastern or Western Districts of North Carolina.