North Carolina Criminal Lawyer Can Help Explain Alford Pleas

In the case of the slaying of Apex teenager Matthew Silliman, the defendants were sentenced in early November, ending a two-year long murder case that prosecutors characterized as a story similar to "science fiction." One of the defendants entered an Alford plea in the case, which has unique benefits for the accused who are unwilling to admit guilt of the charge, but do not want to risk going to trial.

An Alford plea acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence for a judge or jury to convict the defendant and allows for a guilty plea without the accused actually admitting guilt. An Alford plea is a guilty plea and does subject the accused to all of the possible penalties of the charges to which they are pleading guilty.

For instance, there may be a situation where an innocent person faces evidence and potential consequences so overwhelming that they do not want to risk proclaiming their innocence at trial and losing; the consequences of doing so could be great. What that person can possibly do instead is make an Alford plea to a lesser charge and take the lesser penalties. This way, they can forgo the harshest of penalties for the lesser and yet still maintain their innocence by not admitting to the crime they are accused of committing.

In any case where the accused considers an Alford plea, it is always encouraged to contact an experienced Raleigh criminal lawyer. A criminal lawyer will help you understand your options, which may include an Alford plea, after a criminal charge in North Carolina.

How Alford Plea Can Help Juveniles

If a juvenile faces charges, charges which could have them tried as an adult, and the penalties that are associated with those charges, the juvenile may be able to make an Alford plea to a lesser charge. This way the juvenile can keeping the entire process within the juvenile court system and accept the juvenile penalties without having to admit guilt.

By keeping the process in the juvenile system, and out of the adult system, the juvenile may be able to later have his or her record destroyed - as long as certain conditions are met. Those conditions, according to the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, are:

  • The crime committed would have been a crime if committed by an adult
  • The juvenile has not been convicted of a crime as an adult (traffic offenses are not considered for this condition)
  • Good behavior from the time of the delinquency
  • It has been 18 months since the juvenile has been released from the court's jurisdiction

If a juvenile record is destroyed, the juvenile will not have to admit to being delinquent, nor can the record be used against the juvenile if they are later charged as an adult.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced Raleigh criminal attorney to discuss your rights and legal options, including an Alford plea.

North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.