Mecklenburg County Misdemeanor Court Process
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, April 16, 2019
If you or a loved one were recently arrested for a misdemeanor in Mecklenburg County, then you may be lost as to what happens next. Without previous experience in the criminal court system, you may not know how it works, and what is required of you. Now is the time to learn about the misdemeanor court process and to call a Charlotte criminal defense attorney to help you address the charges properly and efficiently.
By working with a lawyer at Randall & Stump, PLLC, you can be confident that you fully understand your rights and options, and that you have a lawyer fighting hard to obtain the best possible outcome in your misdemeanor case. Call us today at (980) 237-4579, or reach out via the online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case.
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are lower-level crimes than felonies. Misdemeanor crimes mean you violated a law and can be punished if convicted. Depending on the crime and the level of the misdemeanor, you face penalties such as fines, community service, and probation. For higher-level misdemeanors or if you have a lengthy criminal record, you also face jail time.
Mecklenburg County Misdemeanor Court
When you are arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Mecklenburg County, your case will be sent to the district court.
The Mecklenburg County Courthouse is located at:
832 East Fourth Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
The Misdemeanor Court Process
There are several steps in the NC misdemeanor process, including:
Arrest and Release From Jail
The misdemeanor court process will usually begin with you being arrested and booked into jail. Depending on the day and time, the booking process can take a few hours. It is also possible, depending on the misdemeanor charge, that you will be issued a ticket for a misdemeanor offense and will receive a summons to show up in court without being arrested.
If you are arrested and booked into jail, then your first concern should be to secure your release. You will be brought before a magistrate, and they will determine the conditions for your release. You may be released on a promise that you will appear in court, released into another person’s custody, or you may be released only once you can meet certain bail requirements.
Under Mecklenburg County’s newest bond system, judges assess certain factors, such as, each individual’s risk of committing another crime, tampering with evidence or witnesses, or fleeing the area before deciding on whether a bail bond is necessary and an amount for bail.
First Appearance in Court
During this first appearance, you will be informed of the charges against you and your right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can inform the judge of your desire to be appointed counsel. Or, you can inform the judge that you have or will retain a Charlotte criminal defense lawyer. In Mecklenburg County, if you have hired an attorney before your first appearance, it is likely that the attorney can appear on your behalf for this initial court date.
During this time, your attorney will gather and review the evidence in your case. The purpose of this is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the case against you, while weighing the possibility of having the charges dropped, winning at trial, and the possible benefits of negotiating a plea bargain. Depending on the strength of your defense, your lawyer may recommend filing a motion to dismiss. Or, they may recommend preparing to defend yourself at trial. However, if a conviction is likely, your attorney will talk with you about the possibility of minimizing the consequences of a conviction through a plea deal.
If the misdemeanor charges are not dropped, and you do not agree to a plea deal, then your case will move forward to trial. Unlike in many states around the country, in North Carolina, district court trials are before a judge, which are called bench trials, who will listen to the facts and decide your case. Juries are not used at the district court level.
Do You Have Questions Regarding Misdemeanor Charges?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime, it is best to talk with a criminal defense lawyer in Mecklenburg County. By hiring an attorney right away, you are more likely to secure your release from jail as soon as possible and obtain the best possible results in your case.