Smithfield Criminal Defense Attorney

Many different circumstances can lead to your arrest on criminal charges, but you face a challenge in going through the North Carolina criminal process.

Along the way, you do have rights and opportunities to defend yourself. However, you are at a great disadvantage if you attempt to represent yourself. Without an extensive legal background and considerable experience in criminal law, you put your rights and freedoms at risk. Therefore, the first step you must take to protect your interests is to consult with a Smithfield criminal defense attorney.

If you were arrested, you are entitled to your day in court. Smithfield attorney Jonathan Breeden is a skilled attorney with years of experience representing clients in the Smithfield and surrounding areas. He’s committed to fighting for your rights and presenting the best possible defense in your case. To schedule an initial case consultation, contact Breeden Law Office today at (919) 300-7290.

Criminal Offenses in North Carolina

Considering the harsh criminal sanctions and associated consequences of a conviction, it is vitally important to retain the help of a criminal justice lawyer to represent your interests. Attorney Jonathan Breeden has experience handling a wide range of felonies and misdemeanors, and he can also provide legal support in connection with administrative proceedings. He will work with you to develop defense strategies in the following cases:

Based on your circumstances, you may also encounter legal issues that necessitate a criminal law attorney. Other criminal cases often seen at Breeden Law Office include:

Juvenile Offenses

North Carolina law treats cases involving individuals under the age of 18 differently than adult offenses. The point of proceeding through the juvenile court program is rehabilitation, instead of punishment.There are, however, strict rules on eligibility. To take advantage of the benefits of the juvenile justice system, you’ll need a skilled Smithfield criminal defense attorney.

Criminal Allegations Against College and University Students

With the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke University all within close proximity, the Smithfield area is home to a massive student body. College students make mistakes, but even minor offenses such as underage drinking and producing a fake ID are harshly punished. A student’s educational institution may also dole out punishment for criminal activity. Unless you retain a criminal defense lawyer to represent your interests, you put your education and future in jeopardy.

Penalties in NC Criminal Cases

The nature of your punishment for a conviction depends on the seriousness of the crime and other factors.

North Carolina Felony Cases

The most severe criminal sanctions are reserved for the most egregious crimes. At one end of the scale, class A felonies are punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The least serious, a class I felony, may lead to three to 12 months of incarceration.

Misdemeanor Penalties

Though misdemeanors are less serious crimes, the punishment for these offenses can still be harsh. For a class A1 Misdemeanor, you face one to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment which refers to how you serve your sentence. If you find yourself convicted of a class 3 Misdemeanor, your sentence is one to 20 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment.

A Smithfield criminal defense attorney can help you understand the punishments you face if convicted of a misdemeanor in North Carolina:

  • Active – Active punishments require jail time.
  • Intermediate & Community – These punishments may be served by completing a period of house arrest, attending an alcohol or drug program, or more.

Other Implications of a Criminal Conviction

Outside the criminal process, there are additional consequences you may encounter if convicted of a crime, such as:

  • Implications for your employment opportunities
  • Restrictions on where you can live and work as a registered sex offender
  • Revocation or denial of a professional license
  • Loss of your driving privileges
  • Higher car insurance rates resulting from a conviction on DWI.

You Have Rights Under Federal and State Law

Regardless of the allegations, all individuals who are accused of a crime are protected by the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and North Carolina’s Declaration of Rights. Federal and state law closely parallel each other on certain civil liberties, though there may be subtle differences depending on whether your case is proceeding in a federal or North Carolina criminal court. Some fundamental rights include:

Right to Remain Silent

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that criminal defendants cannot be forced to be witnesses against themselves. This means that you cannot be compelled to provide testimony at your trial. The prosecutor cannot call you to the stand, nor can a judge force you to testify.

You also have rights that attach at the moment of your arrest. You cannot be forced to respond to police questioning under a rule derived from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.

Freedom from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, preventing police from these types of conduct unless:

  • They obtain a warrant
  • Probable cause supports the warrant
  • The warrant includes a specific description of the place to be searched and the items that can be seized

At one time, the protections of the Fourth Amendment only extended to police searching private homes. Case precedent eventually developed into the requirement that officers must also have a warrant to search an individual’s person, their vehicle, and other property under certain designated circumstances.

Right to an Attorney

Under the Sixth Amendment, you are entitled to the assistance of a defense attorney to help with your defense. If you can’t afford an attorney, the court must appoint one for you.However, it’s wise to pay for the best representation you can afford.. Reach out to a Smithfield criminal defense attorney from Breeden Law Office today if you have concerns going into a criminal case.

Right to a Speedy Trial

Another guarantee falling under the Sixth Amendment is that you must receive a speedy trial. Though there are no specific time limits, a judge will look at specific factors before deciding whether your rights have been violated. The overall length of the proceedings, the reason for the delay, and the extent to which your interests have been harmed are vital considerations.

Burden of Proof in North Carolina Criminal Cases

The prosecutor in a criminal case must meet a certain standard to obtain a conviction, which means presenting evidence that proves to the jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Note that the burden is on the government to prove guilt. You and your attorney do not need to prove your innocence. There is no exact definition of what “beyond a reasonable doubt” means, but it may exist where:

  • There is a mere hunch that you committed a crime
  • Evidence shows that another person could have committed the offense
  • The jury thinks it’s only probable, or more likely than not, that you are guilty
  • Where any doubts, questions, or circumstances would make the jury hesitate to find you guilty

If you have concerns regarding the prosecution’s case against you and if they’ll meet this burden of proof, call a Smithfield criminal defense attorney for help today.

Experience Matters in North Carolina Criminal Cases

Considering the heavy burden of proof the government must prove in criminal proceedings, any case has the potential to result in a favorable outcome for the defendant. When you have an advocate to assist with your defense strategy, you increase the chances of a positive result.

Criminal defense attorneys have considerable legal knowledge, including an acute awareness of the laws, procedures, and statutory concepts that benefit your interests. These professionals also have significant experience in court, with sharp trial skills and powers of persuasion to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

While every criminal case is unique and there are no guarantees in a courtroom, some examples of a favorable result include:

  • Dismissal of the Charges –Arrests typically occur because of probable cause, which is a very different legal standard than the beyond a reasonable doubt burden that applies at trial. If over the course of the proceedings, a prosecutor recognizes weaknesses in the case against you, your charges may be dismissed.
  • Reduced Charges – In some cases, prosecuting attorneys know there are weaknesses in the case, but they’re not willing to dismiss entirely. You can benefit from reduced charges, especially where the matter is a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • Acquittal – This is the legal equivalent of a finding of not guilty. An acquittal may be the outcome in your case if it goes to the jury and the members find that the government has not met the burden of proof.

Attorneys who have invested considerable time and resources into the practice of criminal defense have also developed abilities in the art of negotiations. There may be an opportunity to work out a plea bargain in your case. It may also be possible for a Smithfield criminal defense attorney to get probation as your sentence, and the case could be dismissed as long as you complete the terms of probation.

Contact a Smithfield Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding Your Case

Regardless of why you were arrested and the type of charges you’re facing, you are guaranteed certain rights and constitutional protections. The potential for severe punishment may be high, but it’s worse if you try navigating the legal process alone. When the stakes are high, you cannot put your future and freedoms at risk. You need skilled legal help from an experienced criminal lawyer.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has years of experience fighting for the rights of clients, both in the courtroom and out. He will employ every legal strategy and tactic to defend your interests. If you’ve been arrested, it’s critical to retain a solid, accomplished Smithfield criminal defense attorney to assist with your case.

Contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 300-7290 to schedule a consultation of your case with an experienced defense lawyer.

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