For more than a decade, Damon Chetson has defended people accused of the most serious criminal offenses in state and federal criminal courtrooms in North Carolina. In the early years of his practice, he focused on misdemeanors and Driving While Impaired offenses. Since 2015, he has concentrated on the most serious criminal charges – from murder to white collar fraud and embezzlement to sex-related offenses.
“I believe in ‘whole-person defense’,” Mr. Chetson says. “When I first meet a client, often he or she is going through tremendous fear and pain, even if the client is completely innocent.”
To borrow a metaphor from medicine, a lawyer’s first obligation is to “stabilize the patient.”
“A human being facing a criminal charge or investigation is a human being in turmoil. Getting that person support or services quickly can help him or her avoid further complications.”
Therapy or substance abuse treatment are just two kinds of support a person might need to help resolve the current matter, and create pathways to a happier future.
Some of his greatest successes have never reached a jury trial. They include investigations where Mr. Chetson was hired early and able to prevent charges in mortgage, tax fraud, allegations of sexual assaults and rapes, from ever being prosecuted.
But Mr. Chetson is known as a bulldog in the courtroom.
In 2017, he represented a gang member in a federal kidnapping offense involving the abduction of a prosecutor’s father orchestrated by one of the founding members of the United Blood Nations, a street gang formed in 1993 on Rikers Island in New York. The case received national attention, and involved the dramatic rescue of the victim from a closet in Atlanta shortly before he was supposed to have been killed by the abductors. The case involved millions of pages of discovery, and rare use of Special Administrative Measures by the Department of Justice. Mr. Chetson and his co-counsel were able to convince the jury that their client had not participated in the alleged abduction of a defense lawyer in the case, and the jury found that that abduction was not an object of the conspiracy.
In 2019, Mr. Chetson (and co-counsel) represented one of two people the Wake County District Attorney attempted to have sentenced to death that year. Mr. Chetson’s client had executed a former business partner and two of the partner’s family members with a shotgun after months-long dispute over the failing landscaping business in Wake Forest. Mr. Chetson (and co-counsel) convinced a jury to spare their client’s life after a trial and jury selection that lasted two months.
Mr. Chetson secured not guilty verdicts, hung juries throughout 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Types of Criminal Charges We Handle
When you’re accused of a criminal offense, you may be unsure where to turn. You’re facing charges that could impact the rest of your life. So where do you start?
Starting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh can help your case succeed. We’ve handled many complex, severe cases, from shootings to child abuse. If you’re concerned about your future, we’re here to help you and your family recover.
Below are just a few of the types of cases we are prepared to defend in the courtroom:
What’s the Difference between Misdemeanors and Felonies?
Many people assume, if they’re facing a misdemeanor, that their penalties won’t be severe. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Although misdemeanors are less severe than felonies and have lesser penalties, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about. Misdemeanor penalties can greatly impact your future, making it difficult to get a job, housing, and other concerns.
Worse, a misdemeanor can escalate to a felony quickly. The presence of a deadly weapon, for example, can transform your charges into a felony. Because of this, you may need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh even if your charges don’t seem so bad.
Penalties for a Criminal Case in North Carolina
Before you start your criminal case, you’re probably concerned about the penalties involved surrounding your charges. These penalties can impact your life in severe ways, making it tough to recover after a conviction. Because of this, knowing the penalties and avoiding them is vital.
If you’re concerned about the penalties you may face, speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh before your court date. Below is just a sample of the penalties you could face if you’re convicted on criminal charges:
- Financial Losses – When you’re accused of a crime, you will face court fines up to thousands of dollars. These fines add up quickly and could leave you in debt for years to come.
- Jail or Prison Sentence – If you’re convicted, you might face jail or prison time, depending on the severity of your crime. Misdemeanors may lead to a maximum of one year in jail. But if you’re accused of a felony, you may face life in prison or even capital punishment.
- Criminal Record – The penalties may not end even if you’ve served your sentence. Even after you’re released from prison or jail, your criminal record could haunt you. That can impact your ability to get a job, secure housing, and support your family.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
The problem many people face during their Raleigh trial is experience. You may not have access to the tools and information you need to defend your case. With more than a decade of experience and over 100 trials by judge, your criminal defense lawyer from The Chetson Firm has the knowledge and experience you’ll want when it time to defend your name and freedom.
Taking a chance with your future is unnecessarily dangerous. You may have trouble recovering for years after your case if you take a wrong step and are convicted. Because of this, you may need a criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you clear your name from the allegations.
Raleigh Criminal Defense FAQ
If you’ve been accused of a crime and you’re concerned about the details of your case, check out our frequently asked questions and reach out for help. A trusted criminal defense lawyer will help you pursue justice and protect your future.
What if the police didn’t follow the correct procedures during my arrest?
When Raleigh police don’t uphold your rights, that may lead to serious consequences for your health and safety, not to mention your legal case. Luckily, your lawyer has an opportunity to take advantage of their mistakes. If the police are careless or violate your rights, your lawyer will work diligently to help you get justice for your unjust treatment. That may mean reducing or dismissing the charges against you.
There’s a warrant out for my arrest. What do I do?
First, don’t panic. An arrest could happen at any time with a warrant, but your criminal defense lawyer will help make your arrest easy and discreet. Your lawyer will communicate with the police to get you booked. They could also discuss your bail before your arrest, so you’re prepared and may leave as soon as possible. That minimizes the time you’re in a cell and maximizes your time to build a strong defense for your charges.
Can I get my criminal record expunged?
In some cases, you may be eligible for an expungement. But these situations are limited. Usually, you may only get an expungement if you’re a first-time offender, for example. But you’re not out of options if you’re facing more severe charges. Your Raleigh defense lawyer can help you avoid a conviction, protecting your future and your clean criminal record.
Will my case go to trial?
Some cases don’t need to go to trial—in some cases, it may even have a negative effect on your case. Luckily, your Raleigh defense lawyer will help you avoid trial where possible. They can argue for a dismissal of your case, reduce additional punishments, and help your case resolve with minimal penalties.
Do I need a criminal defense lawyer?
Although hiring a criminal defense lawyer isn’t a requirement, it can be nearly impossible to successfully defend your case without help. Our lawyers understand Raleigh’s criminal defense system, with decades of experience in and out of the courtroom. Your lawyer also has access to tools and resources helpful in building a robust defense.
Utilizing a criminal defense lawyer will also help take some of the pressure off you during this difficult time in your life. Providing you with a chance to focus on your health, family, and job, rather than preparing for and worrying about your upcoming case.
Connect with a Raleigh Criminal Lawyer
When you’re accused of breaking the law, it may not be just a fine or a few months in jail on the line. Your reputation, your family’s mental well-being as well as your own may be on the line. That’s not fair to you, but you don’t have to deal with the strain of a criminal case without help.
The lawyers at The Chetson Firm are here to work diligently for you when you’re unsure where to turn. We want to see you get the best possible outcome for your case. With a board-certified Raleigh criminal defense lawyer on your side, you have a better chance than ever to prepare a successful case. When you’re ready to tackle your criminal defense case, call 919-352-9411 or fill out the online contact form below.