Domestic violence crimes are punished harshly in North Carolina. If you have been charged with one of these offenses, you need to take steps to protect your rights and fight the charges you face. Even if you think you are guilty, taking the right actions may help you get the charges against you dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense through a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Here are six crucial steps you should take immediately.
#1: Take the Charges Seriously
You must take the charges seriously if you have been accused of a domestic violence crime in Mecklenburg County. You are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, like simple assault, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault by strangulation. If you are convicted, your punishments include a lengthy jail or prison sentence.
#2: Retain a Lawyer
You need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately after being charged with a domestic violence crime. They can help you avoid mistakes that could weaken your defenses, such as giving up your right to remain silent or talking to the police without your attorney being present. They will also investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Your lawyer will use this information to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case against you or to prove that you have been falsely accused of the crime if you are innocent.
#3: Obey the Protective Order
The judge could issue a protective order in your criminal case to protect the victim. If there is a protective order against you, you should review it carefully with your attorney and be sure you understand the order.
Then you must follow every requirement in the order exactly as the judge specified. There is most likely a no-contact order preventing you from having any contact with the victim. Avoid the temptation to contact them in any way, as you would violate the protective order and could make your criminal defense more complicated.
Even if you are permitted to maintain your relationship with the victim, it is best not to have any contact with them while your criminal case is being decided. You could get into another argument that leads to you being charged with other domestic violence offenses.
#4: Collect Evidence
You are working as a team with your criminal defense lawyer. You need evidence to build a strong defense strategy to fight the charges you face. If there is helpful evidence at your home and you are subject to a no-contact order, you should ask your attorney to obtain it.
However, there are many other types of evidence you may be able to collect. These include text and email messages you exchanged with your accuser, social media posts, and photos and videos saved on your cellphone. If you were injured in the domestic violence incident, take pictures of your injuries right away.
#5: Don’t Get Arrested Again
It is essential not to commit another crime while facing domestic violence charges. The prosecutor and judge would look at you unfavorably if you were charged with another crime while your criminal case was being resolved. It could hurt your ability to negotiate a favorable plea bargain and result in you receiving a harsher punishment.
#6: Understand Your Rights
You have constitutional protections under the US constitution when you are accused of committing a crime—even if you are guilty. For example, the police are required to give you your Miranda warnings advising you of your right to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney when they take you into custody. You are also protected against illegal searches and seizures, which prohibits the police from collecting evidence against you in many situations unless they have a valid search warrant.
It is essential to understand your rights when you are facing criminal charges. If your constitutional rights were violated, you might have strong defenses you can use to have crucial evidence against you or your confession suppressed in your criminal case.
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If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.