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August 2, 2021

North Carolina Criminal Defense Overview

North Carolina’s laws are particular to the state, although those laws often have analogs in other states. However, depending on the crime, punishment in North Carolina might differ greatly from the sanctions imposed in other states.  For instance, North Carolina’s drug laws are severe, sometimes even more severe than federal drug laws.

Generally speaking, North Carolina criminal laws are found in Chapters 14, 20 (Motor Vehicle), and 90 (Drugs/Controlled Substances), and 7B (Juvenile Code).


Mr. Chetson is one of a select few criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina who is on the Capital Defender Roster and the State Habeas (Motion for Appropriate Relief) Roster. He accepts private clients who are being investigated or prosecuted for murder, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide offenses. He has represented people on Death Row, and those charged with first degree murder, recently securing a life sentence for a client charged in Wake County in the 2016 slaying of his business partner and family with a shotgun. In nearly all homicide cases, Mr. Chetson has either secured lesser sentences at trial, hung juries, or secured plea deals that avoid the worst punishment.

Drug Crimes

The Chetson Firm defends people charged with various state and federal drug conspiracies, trafficking offenses, and drug possession crimes, from felonies to misdemeanors. We help clients achieve outstanding results through deferred prosecution agreements, favorable plea agreements, cooperation agreements, and trial.

Sex Offense & Child Pornography

We represent people investigated for sex offenses and child pornography-related crimes, including rape, indecent liberties, sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a minor.  We advise people in pre-arrest and investigations and have helped our clients avoid prosecution in numerous instances through methodical and careful preparation and interaction with investigating authorities.  We have achieved outstanding results in both federal and state courts, most recently securing a dismissal of forcible rape and kidnapping charges in a case of mistaken identity.

We have represented parents, teachers, grandparents, uncles, coaches, and minors accused of illicit conduct.

We are familiar with the investigative techniques, the Internet and peer-to-peer technologies at issue, and steps, through treatment and counseling, our clients can take to show they are not a danger to society.

Fraud Embezzlement & White Collar Crimes

We represent people accused of embezzlement, fraud and other white collar crimes, including accusations of theft from employers, investigations into employee misconduct, mortgage fraud investigations, tax fraud, health fraud prosecutions, and small- and large-scale embezzlement cases.  We have helped clients avoid prosecution through private restitution agreements, have resolved investigations by producing evidence of innocence, and have advised our clients through grand jury and cooperation with state or federal authorities.

In 2015, Mr. Chetson represented a client charged with at-the-time largest single case of embezzlement – more than $2.5 million – in Wake County history. Mr. Chetson’s efforts resulted in a reduced sentence, along with restitution to the victim, a group of pediatric doctors in Raleigh.

Child Abuse & Shaken Baby Syndrome

We defend people against charges of child abuse, including, in particular, shaken baby syndrome cases.  We have taken these cases, where necessary, to trial and won, and we have secured favorable dispositions for clients that allow them to maintain parental rights.  We are well-versed in the latest scientific and medical literature regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma diagnoses. In 2013, a Wake County Superior Court Jury found Mr. Chetson’s client, a nanny, not guilty of all charges in a felony child abuse case that involved complex medical and forensic testimony. The jury deliberated until 8:00 pm on a Friday evening, eventually setting Mr. Chetson’s client free.

Assaults & Domestic Violence

We have advised hundreds of clients accused of assault and domestic violence charges, successfully resolving many of them through deferred prosecution, not-guilty results at trial, or dismissals.  We have represented people accused of the most serious felony by strangulation and malicious maiming charges, and assault with a deadly weapon, stalking domestic violence protective order, and assault-on-a-female cases. In 2019, Mr. Chetson secured a 7-year prison sentence for a client accused of murdering his wife with a shotgun shot to her stomach in Apex in November 2017. Prosecutors originally sought a life sentence after they learned that victim had suffered extensive physical abuse from her husband.

Kidnapping, Burglary & Theft

We have defended (and won) at trial people accused of kidnapping, robbery, and conspiracy charges.  We have negotiated drastically reduced punishments for clients charged with similar crimes, and burglary and theft offenses.  We have avoided prosecution in cases involving home invasions.  And we have defended people charged with kidnapping and interstate kidnapping offenses. In 2017, Mr. Chetson secured a 24 month sentence for a client after the client held his ex-girlfriend and her family hostage with a shotgun for hours while police officers negotiated his surrender. Psychologists hired by Mr. Chetson diagnosed Mr. Chetson’s client with severe depression and substance abuse disorders. The State had sought a five-year sentence.



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