One of the most difficult practice areas is criminal law. Attorneys who choose to work with it have to go through many processes on top of the typical court representation and writing appeals. Among them are investigations of the case and interviewing witnesses—the more complicated the case, the more effort and time the attorney puts into the work.
What is a Criminal Lawyer?
Criminal attorneys in North Carolina who specialize in criminal law are also known as criminal defense lawyers and public defenders. A North Carolina criminal lawyer can handle a wide range of crimes, such as domestic violence, sex crimes, violent crimes, misdemeanor crimes, drug crimes, driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), theft, embezzlement, and fraud.
What Does a Criminal Law Attorney Do?
Attorneys who practice criminal law represent defendants in state, federal, and appellate courts. These attorneys specialize in criminal justice, bail bond hearings, plea bargains, civil rights, trials, parole hearings, appeals, and post-conviction remedies. Criminal lawyers are responsible for:
Interviewing witnesses and conducting a investigations
Researching case law, statutes, crime codes, and procedural laws
Developing a case strategy and defense
Drafting, filing, and arguing dismissal and suppression motions
Representing the defendant at trial
Pleading the defendant guilty to lesser charges by negotiating with prosecutors
Writing, filing, and arguing appeals
When you seek a criminal defense attorney, you may already have been arrested, taken into custody, and booked by the police. Typically, you are then given a chance to post bail before an arraignment, during which you are read the criminal charges against you. At the preliminary hearing, a judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you with a crime if no plea bargain was reached during arraignment.
When to Hire a Criminal Lawyer in North Carolina
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible, often after the police release you.
Retaining legal counsel early on can offer some substantial advantages, including the possibility of having your criminal charges dropped before any official charges are filed. You will also give the other side more time to prepare their case against you if you wait too long to hire representation. Consider hiring a defense lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing serious criminal charges like assault or felony charges like murder.
How Do I Choose a Criminal Attorney in North Carolina?
In order to present the best defense possible, it is essential to find the right lawyer. No criminal case is the same, so the costs of attorneys can vary, but cost is one of the most deciding factors when selecting a criminal defense attorney. The costs of a criminal case can depend on several factors, including:
The Defendant’s Income—The qualifications for hiring an experienced attorney may ;vary by jurisdiction. According to the Constitution, the judge can appoint a public defender, paid by the state or federal government, if an individual qualifies based on income. You will need to hire your own attorney if your income does not qualify you for court-appointed representation.
Expertise and Investigation—Criminal cases often involve complex issues that require investigators and/or expert witnesses. Most investigators and experts charge over $300 per hour and require a retainer of around $2,000, especially if they carry a professional license. If extra fees are needed to form a stronger defense, decisions will be made based on the specific circumstances of your criminal charges.
Attorneys’ Fees—Criminal defense attorneys do not charge a set fee for their services. Your attorney’s fees may vary based on several factors, including:
Skill and experience
The complexity of the legal issues
The severity of the offense
Law clerks and paralegals entrusted with tasks
Time spent on criminal discovery
Whether the case goes to trial
Whether the attorney charges an hourly fee or a flat rate
Follow Your Instincts
Choosing the right North Carolina criminal defense lawyer is worth the time and effort to compare them when so much is on the line. Online research is helpful, but meeting the attorney personally is essential. Be sure to ask questions. Choosing the right lawyer takes time, but protecting your interests is important.
How Much Does the Average Criminal Lawyer Cost in North Carolina?
Several factors determine how much criminal defense lawyers charge. Among those factors are the case’s complexity, the attorney’s expertise, and the region in which the case takes place.
Many defense attorneys charge retainer fees before they will begin working for their clients, regardless of whether they bill by the hour or by the case. Periodically, the lawyer should inform the client of how much time they have spent on the case, what work has been completed, and how much of the retainer has been used up. A lawyer will likely seek additional payment if a defendant’s account balance approaches zero.
Do Criminal Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?
Clients can request a consultation with an attorney before hiring one. This meeting is the time to discuss the case, find out how much the attorney would charge, and determine if the attorney is a good fit for the particular legal issue.
Compensation for legal consultation varies. One lawyer may offer a free consultation while others will charge an hourly rate or a flat fee. An attorney consultation costs an average of $0–$300 across all legal fields.
Frequently Asked Questions
After being arrested, should I speak to a police officer?
You are not required to speak to the authorities if arrested under the US Constitution as well as state and federal laws. Providing your identity is not required, but you may provide it if necessary. You should speak with your attorney as soon as possible. Only speak to the authorities when your attorney is present.
When someone is arrested, what happens?
People who have been arrested are usually taken to a police station to be booked. Police will gather personal, historical, and biographical information to determine if the suspect has a criminal record. Consult your family and lawyer immediately.
Do I need a lawyer if I plead guilty?
Even if you intend to plead guilty, you should seek legal advice from an experienced North Carolina criminal law attorney before making any decision regarding criminal charges.