Get Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Auto Injury Claims, Workers Compensation Claims, and Divorce & Custody Cases.

Questions about an injury claim, workers compensation claim or a divorce or custody issue?  We want you to call us and ask your questions at (910) 341-7570.  There is almost always a lawyer available to speak with you.  The call is free and there is no obligation.  If you prefer, you can gather more information on this site before you call. We answer many of the most frequently asked questions here.  The site is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.  It is designed to give you the information you need to get started and to be knowledgable about the process as you search for the best injury lawyer, the best workers compensation lawyer, or the best divorce lawyer for you.

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  • I was charged with Assault on a Female in Wilmington, NC. I did not do it. My girl friend just wants it dropped. Will the DA drop the case? Do I need a lawyer?

    Like most days, I was in court today.  While I was there I witnessed the following scenario. 

    A man was charged with Assault on a Female.  The man said he did not do it.  The female said he did not do it.  She wanted the case dismissed. 

    The ADA (the state prosecutor) explained to the female that this was a criminal case not a civil case.  He explained that she was not a party to the lawsuit, that she was a witness; that she had been subpoenaed to be in court, that she could be compelled to testify, that she told the officers on the night of the incident that she was assaulted, and that it is a crime to lie to the police.  He then asked her again, “Were you assaulted?”

    This particular female stood her ground.  “No”, she said.  The pressure continued.

    The man pled “Not Guilty.”  The judge conducted a short trial. The man testified that he did not assault her.  The female testified that the man did not assault her.  The judge found the man “Guilty”.  The judge sentenced the man to 20 days in jail and probation.

    The ADA is not a bad person.  He is not a bully.  In fact, he is a good person.  The judge is not crazy.  They are both trying to protect a person who they believe was the victim of assault.  They believe she may be in danger.  They believe that she was telling the truth to the police and that she is not telling the truth now.  The ADA’s job is to protect victims whether or not they cooperate.

    Every day women come to court and say, “He is sorry.”  “He did not do it.”  “He did not mean to do it.”  Many of those women are the assaulted over and over again.  Some of them are seriously injured.  A few of them have been killed.

    That is the backdrop against which your case will be considered.  You do need an experienced criminal defense lawyer and you need one now.  If you have questions about your case, please call or contact us  on the right hand column of our home page or through the chat option for more information.

     

  • I was charged with a crime in federal court in Wilmington, North Carolina. Should I plead guilty or not guilty?

    After your attorney has performed an evidentiary review, a suppression analysis and a guideline analysis you and your attorney will discuss your options.  Your attorney will use the information collected in the evidentiary review and suppression analysis to negotiate the best possible plea arrangement.  These negotiations can be very important to the outcome of your case.  You will have the option of (1) accepting the negotiated plea agreement and pleading “guilty”, (2) pleading “guilty” without a plea agreement or (3) pleading “not guilty” and proceeding to trial.

    You will see, the people, the process and the penalties are much different in federal court than they are in state court.  It is important that your lawyer have experience trying cases in federal court.  Trial experience will be critical to maximizing the probabiltiy of success if you go to trial.  It will also be vital to plea negotiations if you enter a guilty plea. 

    Some negotiated plea agreements contain factual or legal stipulations.  These stipulations typically are intended to add predictability to the sentencing process by establishing certain sentencing guidelines.  For example, a plea agreement might contain a weight stipulation in a drug case or a loss amount stipulation in a financial case.  It is important to know that these stipulations are not binding on the court.  The court will remain free to make an independent guideline analysis.  Still, these stipulations can still be valuable under specific circumstances and should be discussed with your lawyer prior to your arraignment.

    Your decision on whether to plead guilty or not guilty is the most important decision you make.  You and your lawyer should have discussed these issues thoroughly.  If you are facing a federal criminal prosecution, you may not be happy with the choices that are available to you.  However, you should be able to make your decision with confidence.  You should not make your decision because your lawyer told you what to do.  You should choose a course of action because he or she has helped you to understand the issues and because you believe that the decision you are making is best for you and for your family.

    I would not select my federal criminal defense lawyer because you heard he did a great job in one case.  I would not hire a federal criminal lawyer because have a family friend who knows someone in Wilmington, Charlotte or Raleigh.  I would not choose my federal criminal defense attorney because he help a friend with a DWI. 

    In a federal criminal case, the stakes are very high.  I frequently see people make mistakes in federal court that cost them years in federal prison.  It is imperative that you research your North Carolina federal criminal defense attorney carefully.

    North Carolina Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Wilmington, Raleigh, Greenville, New Bern, Charlotte, Wintson Salem, Greensboro NC

  • Do I need a lawyer to handle my property damage claim after an auto accident?

     

    Property Damage Claims after an Auto Accident in North Carolina

    Auto accident attorney in Wilmington NCProperty damage claims arise when your car is damaged in a wreck or collision that was not your fault.  The responsible driver’s insurance company will assign a property damage claims adjuster.  The adjuster is responsible for resolving the claim in the way that is best for his employer.  He is employed by the insurance company.

    Property damage claims are generally easier to resolve than bodily injury claims.  The insurance company should pay the cost to repair or replace your car. You may need a rental car. The cost to repair your car can be established by a reputable repair shop.  The cost to replace can be established through on-line research.  There may be an additional claim for diminution in value where your car has had extensive damage.

    So, why do I need a lawyer to handle my property damage claim if I was not injured?

    Chances are, you don’t.  Like anything, some of these claims get complicated, but many are straight-forward.  Lots of people are capable of handling this process by themselves without a lawyer. Some people change their own oil.  Some people handle their own propety damage claims.

    When should I get lawyer to handle my property damage claim?

    However, if there is any chance that you were injured in any way in the accident, then you should call us immediately.  (We are located in North Carolina. If you are in North Carolina and you may be injured, call us at (877) 593-4233. If you are outside of North Carolina, please call an injury lawyer in your state.) If you are stiff and sore then you may be injured. It is important that you get a medical examination to determine whether you are injured and whether your need treatement.  Here is why:

    Wilmington Auto Accident LawyersPeople almost always say something in conversations with the insurance adjuster for the property damage claim that diminishes the value of their bodily injury claim.  They might make a comment about the accident that causes the adjuster to deny the claim altogether.  Or more commonly, they make comments about their injuries or medical treatment that dramatically reduce the value of their claim.

    Most of the time, they never even know what they said.  They may never know that they should have received more money.  They go on thinking that is the way it works and they don't get the medical treatment and compensation to which they are legally entitled.

    If you are in North Carolina, it is best to call us now. Ask questions. Get information.  Then decide how you should proceed. The information is free.  There is no obligation.  The adjuster knows how it works.  You should, too.

    How much does it cost to get a lawyer to help me with my property damage claim?

    If we represent you on an injury claim, we handle the property damage for free.  We don’t charge a dime.  We don’t charge a fee up front.  We do not charge a fee on the back-end. We do not charge a fee at all.

    Why does your law firm help people with property damage claims for free when you are representing them on their injury claims?

    I think we get a little more money for property damage claims than you would.  It is not because we are smarter than you are.  It is simply because we are more familiar with the process.  It is something we do every day.

    However, that is not the only reason we do it.  We handle property damage claims for our injured clients in order to prevent the common mistakes that people make when they handle these claims on their own.  These mistakes can cost them hundreds on a property damage claim and thousands or tens of thousands on a personal injury claim.  It is our job to make sure people are treated fairly for their auto injury claims. We take that responsibility very seriously.

    Wilmington NC Personal Injury LawyersIf you have questions about this or anything else relating to your auto injury claim, please give us a call at (910) 341-7570 or toll free at (877) 593-4233.

  • Should I plead guilty or go to trial?

    Trial or Plea

    After your attorney has performed an evidentiary review, a suppression analysis and a guideline analysis you and your attorney will discuss your options.  Your attorney will use the information collected in the evidentiary review and suppression analysis to negotiate the best possible plea arrangement.  These negotiations can be very important to the outcome of your case.  You will have the option of accepting the negotiated plea agreement and pleading “guilty”, pleading “guilty” without a plea agreement or pleading “not guilty” and proceeding to trial.

    Some negotiated plea agreements contain factual or legal stipulations.  These stipulations typically are intended to add predictability to the sentencing process by establishing certain sentencing guidelines.  For example, a plea agreement might contain a weight stipulation in a drug case or a loss amount stipulation in a financial case.  It is important to know that these stipulations are not binding on the court.  The court will remain free to make an independent guideline analysis.  Still, these stipulations can still be valuable under specific circumstances and should be discussed with your lawyer prior to your arraignment.

    Your decision on whether to plead guilty or not guilty is the most important decision you make.  You and your lawyer should have discussed these issues thoroughly.  If you are facing a criminal prosecution, you may not be happy with the choices that are available to you.  However, you should be able to make your decision with confidence.  You should not make your decision because your lawyer told you what to do.  You should choose a course of action because he or she has helped you to understand the issues and because you believe that the decision you are making is best for you and for your family.

     

  • What is a Suppression Motion in criminal defense in North Carolina?

    Suppression

    If there is a legal basis, your lawyer will file a motion with the court asking the court to “suppress” certain evidence.  Evidence is suppressed when a judge determines that the jury will not be allowed to consider it in determining whether you are guilty.   Suppression motions can be very important in criminal cases.  A successful suppression motion can end a criminal prosecution, greatly improve your chances or winning at trial or provide a basis for effective plea negotiation.

    Filing a Suppression Motion can have negative consequences, as well.  The prosecutor may seek to indict you on additional charges where there is a factual basis.  Also, the prosecutor could file enhancements that may increase mandatory minimum sentences.  In federal prosecutions, the government’s need for your cooperation could diminish if there are other available sources for the same information.

  • What is discovery in a criminal case and why is it important?

    Evidentiary Analysis

    Your lawyer should request and review the Discovery materials in your case.  The Discovery materials are the police reports, lab reports, witness statements, photographs, videos and other evidence that the prosecutor will try to use to prove your guilt.  As your lawyer is reviewing discovery, he or she will be looking problems with the prosecutor’s evidence.  He or she will consider constitutional issues relating to the stop, the search and interrogations.  He or she will consider the Rules Evidence and how they apply to your case.  He or she will contemplate and research some of the thousands of cases that interpret these and other legal principles.  I have been in a criminal courtroom almost every weekday since 1997 and I perform some type of research in almost every case.

    He will consider whether any of the harmful evidence can be suppressed because it was illegally obtained.  He may be able to suppress evidence that is not lawfully presented.  He will also consider whether any defenses may apply in your case.  He will then be able to give you an opinion on whether or not you are likely to be convicted in court.  The probabability of your conviction will help you decide whether you want to plead or try your case.

    More importantly, the issues identified through this process will be the basis for plea negotiation.  Great lawyers go through this process very carefully.  Many lawyers do not go through it at all or give it a casual glance.  This process is the difference between a good result and a bad result.  Often when you see a different result in similar cases, the difference results from effective evidentiary analysis.

  • What should I do if I think I may be charged with a crime?

    Charged with a crime? Your reputation, career, money and freedom may be at risk. The lawyer you choose can mean the difference between winning and losing.

    If you have been charged or believe you may be charged with a crime in one of North Carolina's state or federal courts, you need to act now. The decisions you make in the hours, days, and weeks to come may affect you for the rest of your life. You have rights. What are they? When should you use them? Should you "answer a few questions" or ask for a lawyer? Should you give the police consent to search? Should you submit to a polygraph or lie-detector test? Does it make any difference that they did not read you your rights? Can you just explain why you did it? Do you have to prove that you did not do it?

    Just because you were charged with a crime does not mean you will be found guilty. It does mean that you will be required to make decisions quickly. Good decisions are almost always the result of good information. You will get much of your information from your criminal defense lawyer. If your lawyer gives you good and reliable information, then you will make good decisions. If he does not, then you will not. The lawyer standing beside you when you make these critical decisions can make the difference between winning and losing, between vindication and incarceration, and between freedom and imprisonment.

    As criminal defense lawyers in North Carolina, we can assure you: this is a critical time in the life of your case. If you have been charged with a drug offense, DWI, financial crime, larceny, domestic violence, sexual offense, crime of violence, or other offense in Wilmington, New Hanover, Brunswick, or Pender County, or anywhere else in North Carolina, you need to begin now. You need to make sure that your side of the story will be told. Call Speaks Law Firm toll-free at 877-593-4233 today to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the reliable information that you need. Sometimes people don't call until they have already made a mistake that will cost them dearly. Don't make that mistake. Please call now.

  • What should I do if I get sued by a bank?

    Recently, we have seen a lot of litigation involving banks. Bank litigation is common when there has been a sudden drop in the value of real estate. When the value of an asset drops and the debt remains constant, a dispute will often result.

    The most common type of bank litigation in this real estate market is a deficiency action. A deficiency action arises when an individual has barrowed money to purchase real estate and then is unable or unwilling to pay back the loan. The bank forecloses on the property, and then sues the barrower for the difference between what was borrowed and what was recovered for the property after foreclosure. These lawsuits sometimes arise after a short-sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

    Usually, we represent the borrower in these situations. The borrower is usually under a great deal of stress. Often, she has always paid debts. She has never been behind on a mortgage or loan repayment, but does not have another option based upon the realities of the real estate market and her own personal finances. She has  tried to get help from the banks, and found that the banks just want another payment.

    These people should contact us immediately and without further delay. We can give them information, share our experiences, and help them understand best- and worst-case resolutions for these complex financial problems. Whether you are a developer with hundreds of properties, or an individual with under-water investment property, we can help you put together a strategy that will address these liabilities without unnecessary harm to your financial future.

  • What should I do if my son or daughter is charged with a crime?

    A criminal conviction can affect your child in many different ways.  A conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony, will be on your child’s record forever.  Technological advances have made criminal record checks more economical and more common.  A conviction can affect your child’s freedom, reputation and career.  It can determine where he or she lives, works and goes to school.  A conviction can literally change the course of your child’s life.

     

    You may be scared of the consequences.  You might be disappointed that they would risk their future.  You could be angry that they have ignored your explicit advice and instructions.  You can be all of these things, but you must be one other thing.  You must be proactive.

     

    It is imperative that you get involved in this process.  You have changed diapers, help with homework, driven to soccer practice and helped them get this far.  You can help turn this difficult situation into a learning experience that can have a permanent and positive impact.

     

    Your child will need a talented, experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer who is focused on achieving the best result for your child.

     

    Did you know that there are services that rate lawyers?  Avvo.com is an independent service that evaluates lawyers based upon objective criteria.  Avvo.com rates lawyers based upon experience, industry recognition and professional conduct.  We recommend lawyers whose avvo.com rating is 9.0 or better (10.0 is the maximum rating). Our avvo.com rating is listed on the home page of this site.

     

    Also, you may want to see what other clients say about the lawyer you are considering.  You can read client testimonials by clicking on the “Testimonials” bar at the top of the home page.

     

    In addition, consider calling to speak with the attorney or setting up a consultation.  The consultation is free.  You will be better able to assess any professional by speaking to them.

     

    Finally, you may want to do additional research before you select a lawyer for you child.  You may want to call for one of our free publications.  I recommend The Ten Commandments of Criminal Court.  I wrote this short, informative pamphlet so that people would know what to expect and how to act when the get to criminal court.  I would be happy to send you a copy.  Call (877) 593-4233 to get yours free.

  • My federal criminal defense attorney said he needs to perform a "Guideline Calculation" using the United States Sentencing Guidelines. What does he mean?

    A sentence of imprisonment in federal court is greatly influenced by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The guidelines contain hundreds of rules that are designed to measure two things. First, they are designed to measure the severity of a defendant’s criminal conduct. Second, they measure the extent of a defendant’s criminal history. These two measurements combine to produce an advisory guideline range of imprisonment that will give the judge a starting place for sentencing a convicted defendant.

          During the discovery and analytical phase of your case, your attorney will perform a guideline analysis based upon the guidelines and the evidence in your case. From that analysis, he or she will give you an estimate of the range in months of the prison term that you face if you plead guilty or are found guilty. You will consider this estimated guideline range in each decision you make from this point forward. It is very important that this analysis is performed correctly—or you will be making important decisions based upon unreliable information.