Articles Posted in Court Procedures

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”

Being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. Suddenly, you are thrust into the court system and worried that you will be found guilty and face serious penalties for an action you may or may not have taken. Your criminal defense attorneys has the goal of achieving the best possible results for you under the circumstances. Most people assume that the only possible outcome for their case is the judge or jury finding them guilty or not guilty. While these are certainly two possible outcomes in criminal court, there are others. Criminal defendants in North Carolina are sometimes offered a plea bargain.

Published on:

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?”

If you watch a television drama that follows the story of a crime and its prosecution, it seems like a quick process. A crime is committed, suspects are identified, a suspect is charged, the court hears the case, and an outcome is decided. Reality is not like television. Sometimes it takes days, months, or even years to determine who committed a crime. Is there a time limit for bringing about a charge on a suspect? Or can charges be brought anytime after the crime was committed and a suspect was found? The answer to those questions vary from state to state, but in North Carolina it depends on whether the crime was a misdemeanor or a felony.

Published on:

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can the police search my car without a warrant?”

The world that we live in today often requires an extra level of security. The ever-present threat of an individual, or individuals, bringing dangerous weapons to public settings creates the need for buildings to adopt safety procedures to keep everyone safe. Court houses have security at the entrances of the building to stop people from bringing contraband in like guns, weapons, lighters, and other prohibited items. While metal detectors and security guards give off the impression of safety, are they constitutional? The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that individuals are to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. Are there exceptions to searches and seizure protection?

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

We have discussed bail before. Specifically, we have discussed the ways in which the current bail system in place in many states is designed in such a way that disadvantages the poor and minority communities. The bail system allows those with money or access to money to avoid incarceration, while punishing those without financial resources by remaining behind bars. Many argue bail is even worse than simply inequitable, it reinforces and even exacerbates financial disparities in the criminal justice system. When a poor person is not able to make bail, he or she will then spend weeks or months behind bars awaiting trial. During this time he or she will likely become unemployed and create substantial hardship for the family left behind, making it even harder to reintegrate as a productive member of society.

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I be arrested without evidence against me?”

One of the many new changes going into effect on December 1, 2017, involves North Carolina’s private warrant system. The subject seldom gets much attention, but because of the important consequence it can have, deserves some explanation. To learn more about what private warrants are, how they operate in North Carolina, and what is set to change as of December 1st, keep reading.

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

To the surprise of many who once thought it impossible, there appears to be growing pressure across the country to make changes to the current bail system in place in most jurisdictions. Recent reform efforts have succeeded in a handful of states, while efforts are underway in many others to push for change. Chief among them, legislators in California have started the process of addressing the broken bail system and a change in a state as large as California could quickly send ripple effects across the country.

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I have an outstanding warrant, what should I do?”

The mugshot is something that an average person would immediately associate with a brush with the law. The assumption is that anyone and everyone who is arrested or convicted of a crime must have been booked and had his or her mugshot taken. While that is true in many cases, it is not the case all the time. A recent high-profile case dealt with exactly this issue and ended with the defendant being ordered by a judge to report to have his mugshot taken.

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question:”What is an expungement?”

Most people do not spend time worrying about things like the discovery process. It is legalistic and confusing to those not familiar with the criminal justice system. Though it can be complicated, it is incredibly important and worth understanding. Discovery is meant to shed light on evidence, creating transparency in a justice system that can, at times, be troublingly opaque. As a recent article in the New York Times demonstrates, the discovery process can sometimes go wrong and, when it does, it can have serious consequences.

Published on:

Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”

A commonly repeated trope of the criminal justice system is that lady justice is blind. We say this because we hope that all are treated fairly before the law. The hope is that only evidence, cold hard facts, play a role in determining guilt or innocence, not a person’s money, family, background, race, or looks. Though there are reasons to doubt how true this is in practice, especially in years past, it’s been an ideal worth striving for. A recent study appears to indicate that there is plenty of room left to strive, concluding that a person’s physical appearance can have an impact on criminal sentencing.