When people in Onslow or Duplin County are charged with a crime, they need the best legal protection available. Located in Jacksonville, North Carolina the criminal defense attorneys and staff at Welch and Avery, LLP have been providing that protection to our clients for years and can help you with whatever situation you face.
You, the Government, and the Criminal Justice Process
All criminal offenses are prosecuted by the state or federal government, so if you are under investigation or have been charged with a crime it is literally the government versus you. On one side are the resources of the police and prosecution, and on the other side are you and your defense team.
Whether accused of a minor misdemeanor or a serious felony, people charged with crimes must navigate the legal mechanism of the criminal justice system. You may have to go to state court in Jacksonville or Kenansville, or to one of the federal courts of the Eastern District of North Carolina, but either way you are entitled to legal representation. Your lawyer is there to explain the law, the legal system and your specific charges. They will also investigate the facts, analyze the how the law applies to them and what defenses can be used, and they will stand up for you in negotiations with the prosecutor and the court. Should your case go to trial, your attorney will be the one to present the evidence that tells your side of the story and argue for your innocence.
Attorneys at Welch and Avery, LLP have spent their entire careers representing clients charged with crimes, and we have stood with them in both State and Federal Courts throughout Eastern North Carolina and the Cape Fear Region. We understand criminal law, the legal process and the justice system and we are prepared to stand up for you.
For people charged with a felony offense, the first question they usually ask 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 us a great deal about the facts of your case. Certainly you will describe what you have been accused of and who is accusing you. We 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 tell us what your case is about. From this we will develop the best strategy for defending you.
As your case develops, we will 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, we 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 you will get a recommendation 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. Avoiding an active jail sentence is of primary importance to you, so our top priority is keeping you out of prison. 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, we have been able to help our clients avoid the more serious punishments which the law allows.
Very few things can be more damaging to your record and your reputation than a narcotics conviction. From misdemeanor charges like possession of marijuana up to major felony drug trafficking cases, there are many things we can do to help you overcome an unpleasant and potentially ruinous situation. Whether you have a clean record or have been in trouble before, a drug case requires a skilled lawyer working for you.
Although the prospects for the future may seem troubling if you have been charged with a drug crime, things may not be as grim as they seem. With these types of cases we have several potential options. In some cases we may want to mount a thorough and aggressive defense and challenge the government’s accusations. In other situations we may wish to negotiate with the prosecutors. It is often possible to arrange a significant reduction or even an outright dismissal of the charges.
The police will often try to convince you to talk to them without first speaking to a lawyer, saying that they will “help you.” They may even offer to reduce or dismiss the charges in exchange for your cooperation, something they actually have no power to do. The law guarantees you the right to consult with an attorney. Make the most of your rights and call one before you start making decisions without knowing the full consequences of your actions.
Domestic Violence Charges
A domestic violence offense is not actually a separate crime, but a normal offense which happens to involve two or more persons who have “a personal relationship” as defined by statute. What distinguishes domestic violence cases from other types of charges is not the offense itself, but the way that the prosecutor will treat it and the many side-effects that can follow a domestic conviction.
North Carolina statutes state that an individual charged with an offense that has been labeled as Domestic Violence cannot be given a bond by anyone but a District Court Judge for the first 48 hours after they are charged. This means that if a judge is available, you will be brought to court for a bond hearing, but if it is a weekend or court is not in session, you will be held until either 48 hours have passed or a judge becomes available.
If you are brought to District Court for a bond hearing, remember that the court is not there to try your case. Many defendants will want to tell the judge what happened or explain the situation. This is an enormous mistake, as what you say will only be used against you. The judge is only interested in reasons why you can be relied upon to come to court and will not have contact with the alleged victim until the case is resolved. If you are not sure what to say, remember that you have a right to remain silent.
Getting convicted of a domestic violence offense can have unexpected negative consequences. The court will often order a defendant to attend an “abuser treatment program” and place them on probation to monitor their behavior. A domestic violence conviction is also more likely to result in a jail sentence than a comparable non-domestic case. And beyond the sentence imposed by the court, a domestic conviction will trigger provisions of federal law that will restrict your freedom and will cost you the right to possess any firearms. To individuals who serve in the military, this will be particularly damaging because there is no exception to this for military service.
For all these reasons, if you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it is important to consult an attorney before you take any action on your own. An experienced lawyer will speak on your behalf to the prosecutor and can negotiate for you to reach a fair resolution to the case. Even if there is evidence against you, and although the prosecutor will say that they will not dismiss the charges, if the victim wants the case dismissed it may still be possible to have the charges dropped. If you have found yourself charged with a crime of domestic violence, don’t wait to call us and set up a consultation so we can work to protect your rights and resolve the situation.
Larceny and Shoplifting
Walmart, Belk, Sears and almost every other merchant in Onslow county have installed sophisticated camera and inventory systems for preventing thefts. Many people don’t realize that removing or disabling an electronic tag on an item to steal it is a felony. Very few things are more harmful to your record than a conviction for stealing, so we work hard for our clients to avoid a conviction that could stay with them forever.
If you made a mistake and were caught stealing the law may give you a second chance. There are programs for first-time offenders that can lead to a dismissal of the charges against you, and we are happy to discuss these options with you. If you have been wrongly accused of theft then we are prepared to stand up for you and fight for your reputation.
Expunging Your Record
Background checks have become a fact of life for almost everyone. Whether you are trying to get a job, renting an apartment, applying for a license or permit, or even trying to go on a school trip with your child, chances are that someone is going to check your record. Unfortunately, many people find that when they have been accused of a crime, the mere fact that they were charged will be held against them, even if those charges were dropped or they were found innocent at trial.
North Carolina law provides a remedy to this problem, the Petition for Expunction. This procedure, commonly referred to as an “expungement,” allows all record of a criminal case to be removed from the official record. In many ways an expunction makes it appear as if a case never existed.
Under current law there are several different types of cases that can be expunged from your record. While there are limitations, if you were acquitted of a crime or the State dropped the charges we may be able to help you. Even if you were convicted you may qualify to have that blemish removed from your record. If you are unsure whether you qualify, contact us and we will be happy to discuss your situation in greater detail.
Contact Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys for Advice and Guidance
At Welch and Avery, LLP we recognize that a successful legal defense begins long before a case goes to trial because we make sure our clients know their rights and because we have helped to protect them. We will level the playing field between the government and the defense, and we will make sure the police and the prosecutors respect your rights, follow the rules and play fair.
If you are being investigated for a crime or have already been charged, who should you speak to first? Do not talk to the law enforcement officers who are trying to build a case against you, but do talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer and tell them your side of the story. Do not take advice from friends and family who may mean well but do not know all the facts and almost certainly do not know the law, but do come get legal advice from attorneys who have spent years representing clients in situations similar to yours.
Before you give up your rights, before you set foot in court you need to know how the system works and what to expect from your case. Whether you are charged with a DWI, a misdemeanor or a felony, the attorneys and staff at Welch and Avery, LLP are here to help you with whatever situation you face. We are located across from the courthouse in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Contact us today.