If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina, you may be trying to decide what steps to take next. The time after you have been charged with a crime is the most critical, although it may also be the most anxiety-inducing. Many people believe that because misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, they do not warrant investing in a criminal defense attorney. However, being convicted of a misdemeanor can still carry serious and long-term consequences. The information in this article is intended to provide general information on misdemeanor charges and how to proceed. However, if you would like specific, personalized feedback based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, you are encouraged to call our attorneys at Coastal South Law to schedule a consultation.
Penalties for a North Carolina Misdemeanor
Under North Carolina statutes, misdemeanors can still carry serious penalties. Misdemeanors can require jail time and expensive fines. The highest level misdemeanor carries a sentence of 150 days in jail. However, even the least serious misdemeanor can result in 20 days behind bars. These sentences almost always increase after you are in custody due to infractions that occur in jail. Ironically, the best way to get out of jail fast is to avoid going in the first place. For this reason, it is important not to roll the dice when it comes to misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, but they can still have life-altering consequences. Chief among which is the generation of a criminal record. One a criminal record is created, even due to a misdemeanor, it can have negative and limiting consequences from everything from your housing and employment options to your eligibility for enrollment in financial aid, higher education, and other government programs. Furthermore, accepting a lower charge can result in more serious charges later on. The best time to have a charge dismissed or reduced is when you have no prior criminal record. Once you have a record and prior criminal offenses, you may not qualify for leniency or minimum sentences, and can end up facing far more serious charges than you would have if you had fought the misdemeanor charges initially.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A lawyer can help fight the case against you. The best approach will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Depending on your situation, your lawyer may be able to move to have the case against you dismissed on the basis of an unconstitutional arrest or an evidence issue. In other situations, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. These agreements allow you to accept a lower or less serious charge in exchange for a not guilty or no contest plea, or to avoid jail time or other serious consequences. If your case goes to trial, your attorney can come up with a defense to keep the prosecution from reaching their burden of proof and will use all of their legal training to fight the charges against you.
Schedule a Consultation With Coastal South Law
If you are facing misdemeanor charges in North Carolina, call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Coastal South Law today and find out how they can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us and schedule a consultation.