If you have been charged with a felony offense in North Carolina, the most common question I hear is, “Will I go to jail?” The answer to that question depends on two main factors: how serious are your charges, and what does your prior record look like. While every case is different, our laws use a system called “Structured Sentencing” to ensure that similar crimes are punished in similar ways. However, within the bounds of this sentencing framework, there is frequently a fair range of discretion left to the court as to what the exact nature and terms of a punishment may be, leaving lots of room for me to fight on your behalf.
Before we get to the issue of what sentence the court may hand down, there is the important issue of whether you did anything wrong, or whether the prosecution can actually convict you of a crime. In any felony defense, one of the most important elements is gathering information about the case. At our initial free consultation, you can tell me a great deal about the facts of your case. Certainly you will tell me what you have been accused of and who is accusing you. I may also want to know who the potential witnesses may be, what statements were made to the police, what your side of the story is, and a host of other pieces of information that will give me an idea of what your case is about. From this we will develop the best strategy for defending you.
As your case develops, I will also file Discovery Motions with the court compelling the prosecution to reveal the evidence that has been collected against you. This gives us a picture of the case from the State’s perspective. Putting all this information together, I can decide whether you are likely to be convicted of anything at all, and what our odds may be should we take the case to trial. Based on this, I will be able to make a recommendation to you about how best to handle the situation. Remember, no matter what you are told, in the end it is always your case, and your lawyer works for you, so the decision about whether to cut a deal or take your case to trial is always yours to make!
If we do cut a deal and we plea bargain your charges down, the question of what your sentence may be becomes important again. I recognize that avoiding an active jail sentence is of primary importance to you, and I am pleased that usually my clients have been able to go back to their regular lives after their case is resolved. By intelligently negotiating to get your charges reduced to a level where Structured Sentencing does not require a jail sentence, and then arguing persuasively to the court as to why you deserve leniency, I have been able to help my clients avoid the more serious punishments which the law allows.
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