Criminal Lawyer in Guilford County, NC
Each year, an estimated 19,000 individuals end up being booked into detention centers in our county alone, according to data published by the Guilford County Sheriff's Department. Of those Guilford County inmates housed at the Greensboro, High Point, and prison camp facilities, they face a wide range of criminal charges, including traffic infractions like driving while intoxicated (DWI), financial crimes such as forgery or fraud, and violent crimes; even ones as serious as rape or murder. Countless others, including many of the clients a criminal lawyer from our law firm, Ivey McClellan, work with, are released on bail, awaiting the adjudication of their cases in North Carolina courtrooms.
When you were arrested in Guilford County, you should have been read your Miranda rights. In those, you might have been informed that you have a right to an attorney and that anything you do or say could be used against you in a court of law. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in High Point or elsewhere in our county, there's no time better than now to speak with a criminal defense attorney regarding your case.
Although you've likely heard countless times already that you're considered innocent until proven guilty, Guilford County, state, or federal law enforcement agencies seldom move forward in arresting and filing charges against a defendant unless they feel they have an airtight case. That’s why you need the support of a Guilford County criminal lawyer who understands this and can guide you accordingly. Call or email us now.
Basics You Should Know About Criminal Charges in Guilford County, NC
As you stand accused of having committed a criminal offense in Guilford County, it's important that you know a few details about crimes and how the criminal court system works.
Understanding the Distinction Between a Misdemeanor and Felony Charges
In North Carolina, just like the rest of the United States, there are two primary types of criminal charges someone can face -- misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is a crime that's punished with under a year in jail, whereas a felony charge is considered to be a more serious crime and, thus, is punishable by a year or more (even the remainder of a defendant's natural lifetime) imprisonment.
Who Makes Arrests and Who Files Charges in Criminal Cases?
An investigation may occur, and arrest can be made at a local level, such as by the High Point Police Department or by county, state, or federal law enforcement officers, including ones from the Guilford County Sheriff's Office, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, or the U.S. Marshal's Office (and many other agencies in between).
Prosecutors, such as district attorneys or U.S. attorneys, decide whether to pursue charges against a defendant. If they move forward, they're responsible for preparing a case for trial in state and federal courts.
A Criminal Lawyer in Guilford County Explains How State and Federal Charges Differ
Our Greensboro criminal defense attorneys often get asked what dictates which court system handles criminal offenses. The answer to this question depends on various factors, including whether misdemeanor offenses or felony offenses are involved and where crime is alleged to have occurred. For example, defendants tend to be tried in the Guilford County Courthouse when it comes to misdemeanor drug charges like drug offenses, such as simple drug possession (enough for just personal consumption).
In contrast, defendants arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking may be tried in federal court at the United States District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina, which has courthouses in Durham, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro. Any defendant in High Point indicted on federal charges will be instructed to make an appearance at one of these courthouses if not previously taken in custody for an initial hearing and booking so they can decide whether to imprison them while awaiting trial or if they can remain out on bail or their own recognizance (pretrial release).
Should I Retain a Criminal Defense Attorney if I'm Planning To Plead Guilty?
Yes, you should always work with a lawyer, whether you're considering admitting guilt outright or are accepting a plea deal the Guilford County District Attorney's Office has offered you in your criminal case. Why? It comes down to knowing your rights and the implications making certain decisions within the criminal justice system can have on your future.
Additionally, if you're planning to accept a plea deal prosecutors have offered, there's a concept that criminal defense attorneys in High Point, NC and virtually anywhere else in our country refer to as plea bargaining. An experienced criminal defense attorney like one from our Guilford County law firm, Ivey McClellan, can potentially plea bargain with the prosecution, meaning they can negotiate down charges or recommended sentences. This may result in you perhaps not sustaining any blemish on your criminal record or not as serious consequences, such as long jail time or hefty fines, in your case.
Practice Areas Our Guilford County Criminal Defense Attorneys Focus On
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the legal process and many aspects of criminal proceedings, let's discuss the types of cases a High Point criminal lawyer can help you with here in Guilford County and surrounding counties in North Carolina. Those include:
- Driving while Intoxicated (DWI): Known as driving under the influence (DUI) in other jurisdictions, anyone convicted of this crime, which is often accompanied by reckless driving and other traffic violation charges, may face temporary or permanent suspension of their North Carolina driver's license and also stiff penalties to include fines and imprisonment
- Theft: This is a catchall category that may include crimes such as burglary, shoplifting, and larceny
- Financial crimes: Also commonly referred to as white-collar crimes, included in this category are criminal offenses such as forgery, fraud, and embezzlement
- Violent crimes: Crimes, including armed robbery, domestic violence, aggravated assault, a sex crime like rape, manslaughter, and first-degree murder fit into this category of criminal offenses
- Drug offenses: A wide range of drug-related offenses, including possession of drug paraphernalia or drugs themselves and drug distribution, trafficking, and manufacturing, are all crimes our criminal lawyers help clients with
- Weapons offenses: These may include gun charges, such as unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Probation violations: Individuals who are released on probation must abide by strict guidelines, such as complying with random drug testing, filing monthly reports with the probation office, making themselves accessible to their probation officer or in court as required, and more or otherwise, they may be violated or face additional charges for non-compliance
The Heritage Foundation previously published a report discussing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. That report chronicled how a conviction can affect a person's ability to secure housing, employment, and jeopardizes their lawful immigration status in the U.S. (among other things). Thus, securing legal representation from our law firm today is critical if you're facing criminal charges in Guilford County. Our law office is authorized to not only represent clients in High Point but all North Carolina residents.
What To Do When You're Facing Criminal Charges in Guilford County, NC
If you've been arrested or indicted for a crime like the ones listed above, you should reach out to our Greater Piedmont Triad criminal defense law firm immediately. All defendants are entitled to a speedy trial, which means once charges are filed, and hearings are scheduled, your case may proceed quickly to a bench or jury trial.
How Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help in Your Case?
Solid cases can take even a good criminal defense attorney some time to build, so starting to work with a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of North Carolina or federal criminal law and the legal process sooner than later is imperative. Your ability to avoid a criminal conviction is contingent upon this.
Our legal team has extensive trial experience if pursuing that option becomes necessary in your case. So, reach out to a criminal lawyer in our law office right away if you're facing criminal charges in High Point or anywhere else in Guilford County to discuss the next steps you should take in your case. We're confident we're the best Greensboro criminal defense lawyers and are prepared to show you why that's the case.