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10 Criminal Questions Answered By a Criminal Defense Lawyer

The criminal defense lawyers of Welch and Avery understand that you may have many questions regarding North Carolina criminal law. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked criminal defense questions about North Carolina law. We encourage you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case in detail.

  • Can I be charged with possession of drugs if the police did not find drugs on me?

Yes, in North Carolina you may be charged with a drug crime even if you do not have possession of drugs at the time of the arrest.  A person can be deemed to possess drugs if they have them physically on their person or to have “constructive possession” of the drugs.  Constructive possession refers to circumstances where a person has the capability and intent to control the contraband.  Common examples of constructive possession include drugs found somewhere in your house or in your car.  Even if the residence or vehicle does not belong to you it is possible to be charged with constructively possessing contraband located there in some situations.  However, it is often possible to attack a constructive possession case by arguing that the facts don’t really support the charge.

  • Is eyewitness testimony evidence that can be used in court?

Yes, eyewitness testimony can be used as evidence against you. In fact, it is one of the most common forms of evidence used in criminal court.  Eyewitness testimony is often very unreliable or wrong.  Fortunately, an eyewitness at trial is subject to cross-examination, and a good attorney can often expose errors or bias in an eyewitness statement.

  • I have been told if I am stopped for speeding, the police officer must show me his radar or the charges can be dropped. Is this true?

No, the police are not obligated to prove to you that you were stopped for speeding because you were caught on radar. Radar is only one of the many forms used by police officers to determine a driver is speeding. Other methods include pacing, laser ranging, and aircraft spotting. Regardless of the method used, the police do not have to prove it to you on the side of the road.  However, they can be required to prove it in court!  Your criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the situation to determine if you have a valid defense to the traffic offense.

  • If the arresting officer does not show up in court, will my case be dismissed?

It depends. The judge can continue the case to give the officer the opportunity to appear in court. In misdemeanor, traffic, and DWI cases, it is up to the judge to decide whether to dismiss the case if the officer does not show up for the hearing. If an officer repeatedly does not show up in court, the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the case.

  • If I am convicted of murder, can I qualify for parole after seven years?

If you are convicted of first-degree murder in North Carolina and you are sentenced to life in prison, you are not eligible for parole. North Carolina law states that a life sentence is a life sentence.

  • The police did not read me my rights. Doesn’t this mean that the state must dismiss the criminal charges against me?

No, the police are not required to read you the Miranda rights for the criminal charges to be valid. Police officers can question you without informing you of your Miranda rights; however, any evidence obtained may not be used against you if your attorney proves to the court that you were not informed of your rights prior to answering the questions. Regardless of the situation, it is ALWAYS in your best interest to invoke your right to remain silent except for asking to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

  • Are cops allowed to lie to me?

Yes, police officers can lie to you in order to make an arrest. An officer does not need to be “undercover” in order to lie to a suspect. Again, it is ALWAYS in your best interest to utilize your right to remain silent except for requesting to consult with a criminal defense lawyer.

  • Am I guilty of the crime if I only drove the car?

Yes, you can be charged with a crime even if you did not get out of the car and you did not commit the crime yourself. If you drive someone to a location knowing that person is going to commit a crime, you can be charged with the same crime and found guilty of that crime as an accomplice.

  • Am I required to answer questions by the police during an investigation?

No, you are not required to answer questions during an investigation or after an arrest. In fact, nobody is required to talk to law enforcement, regardless of whether they are a suspect or simply a witness.  If you believe that you are being investigated for a crime, politely decline to answer questions or provide any sort of statement.  You should ask the officer if you are free to leave and if you are free to leave, and if the answer is yes, then do so and immediately contact our office.

  • If the police officer tells me that my case will be dismissed, do I need to worry?

Yes, you still should worry and you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer. The police do not have the authority to make promises on behalf of the State. The prosecutor is the only person who can make a binding plea deal with you. Relying on what the police tell you without consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer can result in your conviction and a prison sentence.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The criminal defense attorneys of Welch and Avery understand North Carolina criminal laws and understand the best way to help you avoid severe consequences from a criminal conviction. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459  or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.

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