Criminal Process

Arrest is a Public Record

I represent a lot of people who have never been in trouble before in their lives. The arrest – whether it’s for a misdemeanor such as shoplifting or drunk driving (DUI/DWI) – or it’s for a Felony such as shoplifting or tampering with an anti-theft security device – is frightening. But after the initial anxiety…

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Standards of Review

One of the major differences between the American (and British) systems of justice – the adversarial system – and the system used in countries that have adopted the Roman civil law system is the way appeals operate. In North Carolina, for instance, after the trier of fact – usually a jury – renders a general…

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Procedural Law vs. Substantive Law

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of laws – procedural laws and substantive laws. Procedural laws are the laws that govern the procedure by which a legal process operates. For instance, a procedural law might be a law that says that within 48 hours of detention, a person must be apprised of his or her…

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Common Law vs. Statutory Law

When people think of laws today, they think of laws passed by a legislature – in the federal example, Congress, or in North Carolina, the General Assembly – and signed into law by the chief executive (the president or the governor). These are only one kind of law: statutory law. There is another kind of…

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Resolving your Cases Early (in the Day)

Decision fatigue is a problem all of us have. Making decisions – particularly complex decisions that require reflection, consideration, and nuanced thinking – is taxing on the brain. Consequently, the more one is tired, the more likely one is to make snap decisions. That’s not surprising. Nor should it be surprising that decision fatigue can…

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Prosecutorial Control of the Calendar – History

North Carolina’s prosecutors – District Attorneys – control the criminal calendar, whereas in most other states, the calendar is controlled by an independent judicially authorized administrator. While formally each judicial district is supposed to have a docketing plan pursuant to N.C.G.S. 7A-49.4, the docketing plans aren’t always binding. Through their control of the calendar, prosecutors…

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North Carolina’s Judicial Branch

North Carolina’s criminal justice system has three features – some would say, flaws – that make the practice of criminal defense law in this state particularly challenging. These features mean that people charged with crimes should seek out smart, aggressive lawyers who understand the structural problems with the system. Let’s talk about one of them:…

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Missed Court Dates – A “No Show” is a “No-No”

Not showing up to court on your assigned court date comes with multiple consequences that best should be avoided. First, a person will be “Called and Failed” (C&F) indicating you did not come to court and a “Failure to Appear” (FTA) will be entered into the court computer system by the clerk. Additionally, an FTA…

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Probable Cause and the North Carolina Grand Jury

North Carolina laws provide three ways by which a case can be prosecuted in Superior Court, which is where all felonies must be tried. The prosecutor may request that a judge find probable cause that the person committed a crime after a hearing in open court. This is called a probable cause hearing. If the…

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