If you think you are guilty of the crime you were arrested for in North Carolina, you may wonder if you should retain a lawyer, especially if you plan to plead guilty. However, there are many benefits to retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges you face and achieve a better outcome in your criminal case.
Consequences of Pleading Guilty in North Carolina
If you decide to plead guilty in your criminal case, you will face harsh penalties in North Carolina. Depending on the offense you are pleading guilty to committing, you could face these sentences and other long-term consequences:
- Hefty fines
- Lengthy jail or prison sentence
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Community service
- Loss of employment
- Loss of a professional license or disciplinary action
- Loss of the right to possess a firearm
- Loss of the right to vote
- Loss of visitation or custody of your children
- Difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and an education
Benefits of Retaining a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Even if you are guilty, there are many advantages to hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Here are some ways a lawyer can help you.
Understand the Charges and Penalties
A lawyer can explain the criminal offenses you are charged with committing and the potential punishments you face if you decide to plead guilty. They can also advise you on what to expect in your criminal case. Having this information can help you make the best decisions in your case.
Determine Your Defenses
Your lawyer would conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Even if you believe you are guilty, you could have strong defenses to the charges you face that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. For example, the police could have made serious mistakes in their criminal investigation that might result in crucial evidence being used against you being suppressed. An attorney may also be able to raise violations of your constitutional rights as part of your defense.
Challenge the Prosecutor’s Evidence Against You
The prosecutor has the burden of proving every element of the crime you are accused of committing beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard of proof to meet.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to raise enough reasonable doubt in your case so that the prosecutor may not be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Ways your lawyer can accomplish this include:
- Challenge the prosecutor’s evidence
- Dispute the allegations being used against you
- Discredit the testimony of witnesses being used by the prosecution
- Show inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s case against you
- Use expert witnesses to dispute the evidence, such as blood alcohol tests, forensic evidence, or DNA evidence being used against you
Negotiate a Plea Bargain
Your attorney can help you decide if it is in your best interests to plead guilty and enter into a plea agreement. In addition, they can use your defenses, challenges to the prosecutor’s case, and their negotiation skills to enter into a more favorable plea bargain than you could obtain on your own.
Explore Options Other Than Incarceration
A skilled criminal defense lawyer will know if you have options other than serving a jail or prison sentence if you plead guilty. These options may be available even if you are pleading guilty to a felony. They include:
- Probation. You could be placed on supervised or unsupervised probation. You would be required to meet requirements set by the judge, such as not consuming alcohol or drugs, paying fines, or completing community service, while you are on probation.
- Deferred prosecution. In North Carolina, a deferred prosecution is an agreement your attorney would work out with the prosecutor to have the charges against you dismissed if you fulfill certain conditions, like completing probation, paying restitution to the victim, or performing community service. This agreement would also have to be approved by the judge.
- Conditional discharge. If you plead guilty to a Class H or I felony or a misdemeanor other than DWI, the judge could sentence you to a conditional discharge where you would be placed on probation and be required to meet certain conditions. If you complied with all the terms of your sentence, the criminal case would be dismissed at the end of your probation.
Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?
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.