African Americans make up 22% of North Carolina’s population, yet they make up 48% of the jail population and 52% of prison inmates. There is a long history of mistrust of police in Black communities that’s tied to the systemic racism that has been a scourge since the founding of this country. There is no denying that to be a Black person in America – especially a Black male – is an experience that is difficult to explain to someone who has not had to walk in your shoes. From small slights, like people crossing the street as you approach, to the life-and-death situations that can arise from a “routine” traffic stop, no other group in America experiences life the same way as you or your Black loved ones.

Having a Black attorney on your side as you face criminal charges can make all the difference. At Roberts Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we are led by a criminal defense attorney who understands what it is like to be a Black man in North Carolina. Patrick Roberts is an award-winning attorney who has successfully defended African American clients facing charges relating to murder, drug crimes, sex crimes, assault, theft, and burglary. He has witnessed firsthand how issues of racial bias affect the criminal justice system.

Working closely with Patrick is attorney Phylicia M. Powers, a native of Duplin County, NC. She brings unique insights into the black experience from her own life, a collegiate education focused on Criminal Justice and African American studies, and eight years of service as Assistant Public Defender for the 14th Judicial District in Durham. Phylicia is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.


Black people in North Carolina are far more likely to be found on either end of a murder charge. In the first half of 2020 alone, 40 out of 54 homicide victims were Black, and an analysis of arrest statistics in 2018 showed that Black people were arrested at a rate five times higher than their white counterparts in 250 North Carolina jurisdictions.

In North Carolina, murder charges are broken down into four categories:

  • First-degree murder for willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, a killing that took place in the commission of a felony such as rape or assault with a deadly weapon
  • Second-degree murder for an intentional yet unplanned killing
  • Voluntary manslaughter for a killing that is not preplanned
  • Involuntary manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter for a death caused by an accident such as a fatal drunk driving accident

First-degree murder is a capital offense in North Carolina, which means that you could receive a death sentence if you are found guilty. At the very least, a conviction of first-degree murder will result in a sentence of life in prison without parole. Read more about racial disparities in North Carolina death penalty cases.

With your life on the line, you need attorneys who understand the written and unwritten things you or your family member are up against as a Black murder defendant. Patrick and Phylicia have fought against injustice at the ground level, including obtaining not guilty verdicts and dismissals in North Carolina murder cases.

Drug Crimes

It’s no stretch to say that the war on drugs has often been waged as a war against Black communities.

Black people, particularly young Black men, are disproportionately charged with drug crimes in North Carolina and throughout the nation. That is without even scratching the surface of legal bias in issues such as sentencing disparities for cocaine and crack that have resulted in generations of Black men being lost behind bars.

In addition to being a Black attorney who knows what it is like to walk a mile in your shoes as a Black man in North Carolina, Patrick has extensive experience on both sides of drug cases. Before opening his defense practice with us, he was a Johnson County felony drug prosecutor and drug treatment court prosecutor in New Hanover County. He how the prosecution builds its case and can use his experience to build the strongest possible defense for you or your loved one when they need it most.

Phylicia has successfully negotiated and litigated felonies and misdemeanors including drug possession and drug trafficking in North Carolina.

Our attorneys are equipped to defend against felony and misdemeanor drug charges, including:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to sell and deliver
  • Drug trafficking and/or conspiracy to traffic
  • Cultivation and manufacturing
  • Distributing drugs to minors
  • Prescription drug offenses

Your choice of attorney can make a difference in limiting your exposure to harsh penalties such as prison time, fines, and the complications that come from having a criminal record.

Sex Crimes

“Sex offender”: It’s a label that, once affixed, will follow you for the rest of your life. It is possible that the label is the worst punishment inflicted upon those convicted of sex crimes in North Carolina, as it can dictate where you can live, limit your freedom of movement, prevent employment and tarnish your personal reputation.

Combining the stigma of being a registered sex offender with the racial bias you already encounter is a recipe for disaster. It is crucial to mount an aggressive defense if you face accusations of sex crimes such as:

  • Sexual assault, including date rape, rape, and aggravated sexual assault
  • Sex crimes against children, including molestation, child exploitation, and solicitation of a minor
  • Lewd behavior
  • Indecent exposure
  • Prostitution or solicitation of a prostitute

Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecutors. Put a skilled and aggressive Black attorney on your side who understands just what you are up against.

Additional Crimes

In a nation and state where you can be pulled over for nothing more than “driving while Black,” any criminal charge threatens your rights and your future.

Having a criminal record can make it much more difficult to find employment, secure housing, and qualify for loans. The best way to avoid such issues is to fight back against misdemeanor and felony criminal charges from the start.

At Roberts Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we offer skilled defense representation from proven Black attorneys. Patrick knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system, having served as a prosecutor before opening his North Carolina criminal defense practice. Phylicia was an eyewitness to the challenges facing black defendants during her time as a public defender.

You can rely on our firm for a thorough and tenacious defense against charges such as assault, theft, and burglary. We know what you are up against and have what it takes to limit your exposure to criminal penalties and collateral consequences so that you can move forward with your rights, reputation, and future opportunities intact.

Patrick Roberts Knows What It’s Like To Stand In Your Shoes

No matter how far we’ve come, there is still a long way to go when it comes to issues of racial justice in the criminal justice system. Black defendants are simply treated differently. Once accused, they are likely to receive harsher sentences than their white counterparts.

At Roberts Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we get it because we are led by a Black attorney who has stood in your shoes as a Black man in North Carolina.

Patrick understands the challenges you face as a Black man in North Carolina and relishes the opportunity to make things right for you. In the face of a system that threatens you with longer sentences and threatens your family’s well-being simply due to the color of your skin, you can rely on Patrick to provide you with the thoughtful advice and strong defense representation you need to protect what matters most.

Put a successful Black attorney on your side today by calling 919-838-6643 for a free consultation.