Whether you’re facing a traffic violation or a criminal charge, you most likely have a number of questions about the legal process ahead of you while feeling worried and overwhelmed about what the future holds. While we recommend reaching out to our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys in Raleigh to schedule a free case consultation, we also created a guide of our most frequently asked questions to provide you with some insight.
FAQs for Criminal Defense Lawyers
First, let’s look at the general questions related to criminal defense that you may have.
What Types of Crimes can a Criminal Lawyer Defend Clients Against?
While every criminal lawyer may have different practice areas, at Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh, we represent clients in all areas of criminal defense, including:
- Traffic offenses, including speeding, reckless driving, and driving on a suspended license;
- DWI (Driving while intoxicated);
- Drug offenses, including possession, selling, trafficking, and prescription drug crimes;
- Firearm and gun charges;
- Domestic violence, including restraining order violations, sexual assualt, and stalking;
- Financial crimes, including embezzlement;
- Assault and violent crimes
- Theft, including burglary, larceny, and shoplifting;
When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you are under investigation for a crime or are facing criminal charges, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately. The sooner you have legal representation, the sooner your attorney can begin providing guidance, protecting your rights, and creating a defense strategy that can improve the outcome of your case.
What Should I Expect from My Criminal Defense Lawyer
An experienced defense will ensure you are kept fully informed of the process and understand the charges against you. You can also expect that your attorney will protect your rights and provide counsel toward this, such as advising you what questions to answer and how they should be answered to prevent incriminating yourself. Most importantly, you should expect your criminal defense lawyer to strive to achieve the best practical outcome in your case, whether that is working to have charges dropped, securing a plea bargain in your favor, or taking the case to court.
What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
Crimes are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and within those two groups they are divided into classes. A misdemeanor is less serious and is generally punished by fines, probation, or less than one year in jail. A felony is much more serious and can be punished by at least a year in prison, though often much more.
Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, any kind of conviction or criminal record can negatively affect your life long after you’ve served your sentence.
Do I Need a Defense Lawyer If I’m Innocent?
Absolutely. False allegations, mistaken identity, poor investigations, and bias all lead to arrests and even convictions of innocent people. Making sure you have an experienced defense attorney to fight on your behalf is essential to securing your freedom and clearing your name.
Do I Need a Defense Lawyer If I’m Guilty?
Again, absolutely. The Constitution guarantees that you have the right to an attorney and that you deserve fair treatment under the law. Your defense lawyer will ensure your rights are protected and do what they can to minimize the punishment you may be facing, from negotiating plea bargains that reduce your sentence to taking the case to a jury and ensuring the prosecution is tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime.
Do I Need a Defense Lawyer If I Haven’t Been Arrested?
Yes, if you are being questioned or investigated for your role in a crime, even if charges haven’t been brought, you should have legal representation. Your lawyer will advise you on how to handle questions, protect your rights, hold the prosecution and law enforcement accountable, and do what they can to keep you from being arrested. .
Can I Get a Conviction Off My Record?
In North Carolina, certain misdemeanors can be expunged from your record, providing you with a clean slate to move forward. However, there are multiple factors that must be present in order for the expungement to be approved. Having a defense lawyer who can assist with filing paperwork and gathering proper documentation will help improve your chances of success.
FAQs for Federal Criminal Lawyers
Facing federal charges is much different than facing charges brought by the State of North Carolina. These are often the questions we receive related to federal cases.
What’s the Difference Between a State and Federal Charge?
Basically, the State of North Carolina brings charges against individuals accused of breaking state laws, while the Department of Justice brings charges against individuals accused of breaking federal laws. Typically, the DoJ will prosecute crimes that cross state lines, such as drug trafficking or mail fraud, but because federal law supersedes the state, they can also claim jurisdiction in a state crime.
Can Any Defense Lawyer Represent Me in Federal Court?
No, if you are facing federal charges, you need an attorney who is admitted to practice in the federal district court of which you are facing charges. The federal lawyers of Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh defend clients in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Greenville.
When Do I Need a Federal Criminal Lawyer?
Because the Department of Justice can take over cases from the state, we would highly recommend hiring a federal criminal defense lawyer even if you are only facing prosecution from the state. This eliminates the need to work with a different attorney if the charges become federal.
Why Choose Our Criminal Defense Attorneys?
We understand that choosing a criminal defense attorney may be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make and it’s not to be taken lightly. Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh have over 60 years of combined legal experience and have worked as both prosecutors and defense attorneys, giving us a unique perspective and insight into how to best defend our clients. In addition to our experience, we are also passionate about fighting for our clients’ rights and striving to secure the best practical outcomes in their cases.
What Should I Bring to My Consultation?
We would recommend you bring any paperwork that involves your case, including any warrants and citations. Also, if you have a previous conviction or criminal record that could impact your case, please bring any paperwork related to your release conditions, parole, or probation to your first consultation.
How Much Are Your Fees?
During your free case consultation, we will discuss the case and learn as much about you and the charges as possible in order to determine a fair and reasonable fee.
Do You Represent Clients in Both State and Federal Cases?
Yes, we represent clients in the Eastern District of North Carolina federal court as well as the State of North Carolina
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Raleigh 24/7
If you are facing criminal charges, we are here to help. Call us at (919) 887-8040 to speak with a defense lawyer in Raleigh 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation.