The Court Process
We Will Help You Understand What Happens Next
Raleigh, North Carolina, Federal and State Criminal Defense Lawyer
At Roberts Law Group in Raleigh, we have the criminal law experience and skills you can rely on to help you protect your rights and your freedom after being charged with a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense. Attorney Patrick Roberts is a former Assistant District Attorney in three different counties in North Carolina. We use this experience to your advantage as your case moves through the legal system in federal or state court. Mr. Roberts maintains the energy and enthusiasm for criminal defense law that many defense lawyers take for granted.
Contact our Raleigh law firm to learn more about our experience and how we can help you protect your rights in the criminal court system. We offer a free consultation.
Most of our clients have never been charged before. We explain the process.
Most people who talk to us about the criminal court process have never been charged with a crime before. We think it is helpful for you to have a visual picture of the process. We invite you to read through the information and diagrams presented on this page.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, here is what to expect:
- Arrest and formal charges
- First Appearance: This is your initial appearance in a courtroom. We can handle this appearance for you and plead not guilty, if appropriate. Your case will be re-scheduled once you determine whether you will retain an attorney or have one appointed by the court. People charged with a misdemeanor typically will have to go to court when aggressively fighting for an acquittal.
- Pretrial Negotiations: This is where we fight to dismiss or reduce charges in discussions with the prosecutor, law enforcement and potential witnesses. This phase can take from one to six months. During this phase, we are gathering evidence and developing defense strategies that are specific to your case.
- Trial: If your case cannot be settled in pretrial conferences and you are fighting for an acquittal, your case will be set for a bench trial before a judge. In a trial, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. Due to the volume of cases in Wake County, prosecutors are often reluctant to let things go this far in misdemeanor cases. Instead, they often prefer to resolve the case through a negotiated agreement.
If you have been charged with a felony:
Lower Court Hearings
- Arrest and formal charges
- First Appearance: You are required to appear at the initial hearing. There, you will be advised of your charges, the maximum possible punishment and your right to counsel. We will be by your side to help you understand the process.
- Preliminary settings: Often called the discovery phase of the process. This is our opportunity to collect evidence and review the evidence the prosecutor has gathered against you.
- Pre-Trial Negotiations: Before court dates, we will meet with the prosecutor to discuss your case and negotiate possible alternatives to trial, including probation.
- Probable Cause Hearing: If a plea bargain agreement cannot be reached, we can request a hearing to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. This is our opportunity to cross-examine witnesses the prosecutors have assembled to testify against you. This is an additional opportunity to settle the case out of court because it gives both sides a chance to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case.
- Grand Jury: Should a judge find probable cause, your case will be sent before a Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury believes there is sufficient evidence, a bill indictment will be returned.
Higher Court Hearings for Cases Going to Trial
- Arraignment: You are required to be present as we enter a plea of not guilty.
- Motions and Settlement Conferences: We file motions to suppress evidence or change venue, or employ other legal procedures to your advantage. This is an additional period during which evidence can be gathered to build defense in your case.
- Trial: It is always your decision whether to proceed to trial. We will clearly inform you of your rights at every step of the process. Last-minute settlements and plea arrangements are common leading up to the trial.
- Sentencing: Sentences in plea agreements are part of the arrangement you accept. If you are found guilty by jury, we fight aggressively for the lowest allowable sentence. Even if you are convicted of a felony crime, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will go to jail. The judge has many options available. We will present those options on your behalf.
If you are facing federal criminal charges, the federal criminal process is somewhat different.
Contact Roberts Law Group, PLLC
Misdemeanor or felony criminal charges in North Carolina can have severe consequences if you are convicted. Put an experienced attorney from Roberts Law Group, PLLC, on your side. Contact our firm or call us toll free at 877-880-5753 for a free consultation with a North Carolina defense attorney.
State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case.
In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.
State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed.
Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to an alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.
State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed.
After conducting an investigation and communicating with prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.
State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death.
Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.
State v. J.G.:
Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.