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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  • Should my North Carolina Federal Criminal Defense Attorney file a Suppression Motion in my case?

    If there is a legal basis, your lawyer may file a motion with the court asking that evidence be “suppressed.” 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 federal 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 addition, the government’s need for your cooperation could diminish if there are other available sources for the same information. Whether you have a viable suppression issue is a matter that you should discuss with your lawyer.

     

  • What should I do if I am charged with DWI in North Carolina?

    If you are charged with DWI in North Carolina, the first thing you should do is to read the information below that describes the people and the process.  Knowing this information will put you in the best position to make good decisions.  Good decisions will lead to the best possible result.

    A word of caution:  You may feel like you should not have been driving.  That may be true.  However, there are potentially hundreds of issues in every criminal case. Some of them are very technical.  You may have opportunities for a positive outcome that you would have no way of knowing about at this time.  At the same time, you may not be aware of certain serious risks that you will face in court.

     You may have heard the term “Driving Under the Influence” [DUI].  DUI is the more traditional way of referring to driving under the influence of alcohol.  However, in the early 1980’s the North Carolinalegislature changed it to the more inclusive Driving While Impaired [DWI].  DWI includes impairment resulting from such substances as lawfully prescribed medications, as well as other illegal substances.  Therefore, if a driver is under the influence of an impaired substance, or has a BAC of at least 0.08, or has any amount of illegal drug in his or her system while driving, then that driver can be charged with Impaired Driving. 

     

    Once a person is charged with impaired driving, his or her license is generally subject to a thirty (30) day civil revocation.  However, after ten (10) days the driver may be eligible for a limited driving privilege.  After thirty (30) days, the driver may pay a fee and get his or her license back from the clerk of court.

    In North Carolina, DWI is an implied consent offense.  That means that if you operate a vehicle in North Carolina you agree to provide a sample of your breath at the request of law enforcement.  If you refuse to provide that breath sample, the officer will note your refusal.  Your refusal will be accepted by the judge as evidence of impairment.  In addition, your license will be suspended for one year based on the refusal.  This one year period of revocation is in addition to any revocation that results from a conviction for DWI.  If your license is revoked based upon your refusal to provide a breath sample, you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege after six months.

    In order to be convicted of DWI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) drove (2) a vehicle (3) on a street, highway, or public vehicular area (4) (a)while under the influence of an impairing substance, (b) with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or (c) with any amount of a schedule 1 controlled substance is his or her blood.  The attorney for the state no longer has the legal authority to reduce or dismiss DWI charges without extensive documentation and review.

    As a result, you generally must plead guilty or not guilty.  If you plead guilty, the judge will conduct a DWI sentencing hearing.  If you plead not guilty, the judge will conduct a trial.  If after trial, you are found not guilty, you are free to leave.  If you are found guilty, the judge will conduct a DWI sentencing hearing.

    DWI offenses are initially tried in District Court.  District Court cases are decided by a Judge and not a jury.  In other words, the judge will decide if the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of the offense.  The judge will also consider evidentiary arguments raised by the state or the defense.

    In a DWI trial, the prosecutor (generally an assistant to the elected district attorney) will try the case for the state.  Usually, the prosecutor will not elect to give an opening statement.  The defense attorney will usually make the same election.  The prosecutor will call the first witness.  The first witness will usually be the law enforcement officer who initiated the stop of the defendant’s vehicle.  The prosecutor will ask the officer questions about his or her experience, job duties and observations on the day of the arrest.  The prosecutor will also ask about the defendant's driving, the stop, any field sobriety tests that were conducted, his or her opinion as to impairment, any statements that were made by the defendant, the intoxo-meter, as well as any other indications of impairment.

    The prosecutor will call any additional witness that he or she believes are necessary to eliminate any reasonable doubt with regard to all of the elements of the offense.  After each witness has answered the prosecutor’s questions, the witness is subject to cross-examination by the defendant’s attorney.

    In the movies Defense lawyers often bully or badger witnesses in cross-examination.  This practice is not tolerated in state and federal courtrooms inNorth Carolina.  Lawyers who are discourteous to witness are often reprimanded by the judge and rejected by the jury.  InNorth   Carolina, cross-examination is more effective when it is carefully constructed than when it is disrespectfully delivered.

    After the state’s last witness, the state will rest.  Your attorney may make a motion to dismiss.  The judge may or may not want to hear arguments on the motion.  If the judge grants the motion to dismiss, the defendant is free to leave.  If not, the case proceeds.

    The defendant has the right to put on evidence.  The defendant is not required to put on any evidence.  The defendant can elect to testify or not to testify.  The decision to testify or not is for the defendant and not the lawyer's to make.  The lawyer may and should offer his or her opinion as to whether it is beneficial for the defendant to testify or not.  If the defendant elects to refrain from testifying, then the court can draw no inference of guilt from that decision.

    After all of the evidence has been introduced, the defendant’s attorney may renew his motion to dismiss.  The judge may or may not grant the motion.  The prosecutor will then argue why the judge should apply to facts to the law and conclude that that there is no reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt.  The defendant’s lawyer will then argue that reasonable doubt remains and that the defendant should be found “Not Guilty”.  If the Defendant is found by the judge to be not guilty, then the defendant is free to leave.

    If the defendant is found to be guilty or if the defendant has pled guilty, then the judge will conduct a sentencing hearing.  At the sentencing hearing, the judge will hear and consider arguments by both sides on the presence or absence of certain factors.  Factors may be aggravating, grossly aggravating or mitigating.  The presence of aggravating factors makes your case a little worse than average.  The presence of grossly aggravating makes your case a lot worse than average.  Mitigating factors make your case a little better than average.  The judge will weigh these factors to determine what level of punishment is appropriate in your case.

    There are five levels of punishment for Impaired Driving inNorth Carolina. Level 1, the most severe punishment, can bring a fine of up to $4,000 and imprisonment up to two years.  Level 2 carries up to a $2,000 fine and up to one year in prison.  The maximum punishment for Level 3 DWI is a $1,000 fine and six months in prison.  Level 4 can bring with it a $500 fine and 4 months imprisonment.  And for the least severe, level 5, the impaired driver can be fined $200 with no more than two months imprisonment.

    If you are charged with DWI, you should call us at (910) 341-7570 immediately.  We may be able to secure a limited driving priviledge that will allow you to drive for work, school or for other reasons.  We can help you determine if you have a good case for trial.  If you do have a good case for trial, we can determine what witnesses or evidence you should bring to court.  In addition, there are mistakes that people frequently make that could have very negative consequences on the outome of your case.  We can help you avoid those costly mistakes.

  • Should I give a recorded statement to insurance adjuster after an injury in auto accident?

    If you have been injured in an auto accident, you will soon be contacted by an insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. The adjuster is under no legal or moral duty to protect your rights. The adjuster may be nice and professional. He may tell you that the insurance company has accepted liability and will pay the claim. But how much will they pay? The adjuster will tell you that they cannot give you legal advice and then sit in silence as you make mistakes that could cost you thousands of dollars.

    One of the first things he will do is attempt to obtain a recorded statement. Never give a recorded statement without consulting with an experienced injury attorney first. The recorded statement may seem harmless, but it is carefully designed to elicit information that may be harmful to your case. It is critical that you know your rights immediately, so that you can protect yourself from further financial harm.

    You can get the information you need by calling us for a FREE consultation or by requesting my FREE book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, including 20 Secrets to Maximize Your Recovery. It is for sale at Amazon.com or yours free if you call (877) 593-4233 or (910) 341-7570.

     

  • What should I do if I am charged with a DWI in Wilmington, North Carolina?

    You should contact an experienced and professional DWI lawyer in Wilmington, NC. Look for one who knows the prosecutors, judges, law and process.  Avoid the cheapest lawyer or the one who promises a result.  Set an appointment to speak with your lawyer about the details your case.

    The single biggest mistake that people charged with DWI make is in thinking that one lawyer is the same as another. Each DWI case presents four main issues: the stop, the arrest, the test and the circumstances.  Each of these issues presents hundreds of sub-issues.  Daily experience is the only way that any lawyer can spot, evaluate, and develop a plan to exploit these complex and often hidden issues.

    Also, it is always tempting to hire the cheapest attorney. I understand that temptation.  We all want to be careful about how we spend our money.

    But know this: you get what you pay for. I get calls every single day from people who hired the cheapest lawyer. It never seems to go well. It is more difficult and more expensive to go back and try to fix problems caused by lawyers who fail to charge enough to handle your case correctly.

    If you have been charged with DWI and want to address this difficult legal challenge with an experienced professional who can help you, please call us at (910) 341-7570 or toll free at (877) 593-4233.

  • What is my Motion of Discovery or Discovery in a federal criminal case?

    What is my Motion of Discovery or Discovery in a federal criminal case?

     

     

    As soon as possible, your lawyer will formally request the discovery in your case. A Motion for Discovery or a Discovery Motion is the document your lawyer creates that formally requests the discovery.  The discovery is the documentary evidence, police reports, witness statements, photographs, and other evidence that the government intends to use to show that you are guilty of the offense(s) with which you have been charged. Once your lawyer has received the discovery in your case, he or she will analyze it according to source and review it with you. Your lawyer will consider possible defenses to the charges against you. Together, you and your lawyer will determine the probability of success at trial. A lawyer who has extensive federal trial experience will be able to give you accurate information at this important stage of the litigation process.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

     

  • What are the United States Sentencing Guidelines and how do they apply to my case?

    What are the United States Sentencing Guidelines and how do they apply to my case?

    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.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • What does a target letter, criminal information or indictment mean to me?

    The federal criminal process begins with an Indictment, a Criminal Complaint, or a Target Letter. These documents are not evidence of guilt. They are merely allegations of criminal conduct. They are also clear indications that you need a federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

          Indictments, Criminal Complaints, and Target Letters provide your attorney with critical information that he or she can use to your immediate advantage. From these documents, your lawyer can determine whether there may be opportunities to avoid federal prosecution. Your lawyer can know the offenses with which you have been or may be charged and the statutory maximums and minimums for those offenses. He or she may be able to identify the judge who will preside over your case. Based upon the offense(s) charged, your lawyer can perform a detailed guideline analysis using the United States Sentencing Guidelines to give you a reliable estimate of the length of the sentence of imprisonment that you face if you are convicted. You will need to refer to this guideline analysis throughout the criminal prosecution as you make critical decisions.

          In addition, your attorney can identify the prosecutor assigned to your case. That gives him or her someone to talk to about important issues such as detention, discovery, plea agreements, trial, and sentencing. As soon as you know that you might be charged with a crime in federal court, you should contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

          A WORD OF CAUTION: Not all criminal defense lawyers are FEDERAL criminal defense lawyers. There are many brilliant state court criminal defense attorneys who have no business in a federal courtroom. They simply lack federal criminal knowledge and experience. Although many underlying principles are the same, federal criminal court is completely different from state court. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is regularly in federal criminal court in order to get information about judicial tendencies, prosecutorial policies, and guideline application. Inaccurate information will lead you to bad decisions. You need reliable information in order to make good decisions.

          In addition, nothing in this site should be taken to mean that you should ever be discourteous or disrespectful to a judge, a prosecutor, a lawyer, a law enforcement officer, or anyone else. You can assert your rights. You can defend yourself. You can hold the federal government to the burden that the law places upon them. You can do all of these things. But you must do so with courtesy and respect.

          This same principle applies to other criminal defense attorneys. If you chose to hire another attorney or the court appoints an attorney to represent you, the relationship you have with your attorney is very important. In general, criminal defense attorneys are dedicated, knowledgeable, caring people who have dedicated their entire professional lives to helping people just like you. They did not create this problem for you. They are simply trying to help you to develop a solution. It is perfectly reasonable to ask your attorney questions based upon your independent research, but please do so with courtesy and respect. This site is not intended to provide substantive legal advice and it is not intended to cause friction between you and your lawyer. If you are currently represented by another criminal defense attorney, please consult him or her directly regarding questions you have about your case.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • What is an initial appearance in federal criminal court?

    After an arrest, you will be taken in front of a U.S. magistrate judge as soon as possible for your Initial Appearance. At your Initial Appearance, the judge will explain to you the offense(s) with which you have been charged. He or she will explain some of your rights and ask you if you are able to hire your own lawyer or if you would like to apply for a court-appointed lawyer. The magistrate judge will ask the government if they are “moving for detention” in your case. If the government moves for detention, then they are asking the court to hold you in jail until your case is heard. This is common in federal court. You have a right to a detention hearing if the government “moves for detention.” If the government does not move for detention, you will be released until your arraignment.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • How can I find the best federal criminal defense attorney?

    Finding the Right Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

    Choosing a professional can be difficult. For example, before an NFL team selects a quarterback, they gather reliable information. They watch hours of film. They conduct interviews. They ask the player to submit to rigorous physical and psychological evaluations. They talk to former coaches, teammates, teachers, and friends. And still, lots of times they get it wrong.

    Choosing a legal professional can be even more difficult because we have much less information upon which to base our decisions. Should we choose the one with the biggest office? He looks like he is successful. That could be because he does a good job for people. Ms. Jones said that ABC Law Firm did a good job on her case. Attorney Smith looks distinguished on his billboard advertisements. Maybe he has a lot of experience.

    Trying to make a good decision with limited information is very difficult, and that is why I wrote this book. I want you to have more information so that you can make better decisions. I also want you to have a chance to get to know me and what is important to me. I want you to know how I approach cases and how I deal with clients.

     

    I have devoted much of my professional life to helping people charged with serious crimes in federal court. I like to see people treated fairly. It bothers me to see people spend years in prison and away from their families when they could have achieved a much better outcome. I don’t like to see suffer because they lack familiarity with the rules and with the process.

    In 1997 I started a law firm. The goal was to help people who needed help. My motto then and now is, “Every client is our most important client!” I got that from a federal judge I greatly admire. The judge was old, wise, and tough. He had learned all he knew through experience and the school of hard knocks. He was hardened by battle but softened with time. I worked for him in law school. When it was time for me to leave and get a “real job, he asked me for which firm I was going to work. I told him I was not going to go to work for any firm. I told him that I was going to start my own law firm. He smiled and reflected for a moment. That is what he had done.

    A second later he snapped out of it and said, in a gruff voice, “You have to be like the guy in that movie, Jerry Maguire. You have to take care of each client that walks in your door like they are the only client that you are ever going to have.”

    I have tried to live by that advice every day. I try to make sure that the people who work with me share in that commitment.  Please call (877) 593-4233 to find out how we can help you during this difficult time.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • What can I expect from a Detention Hearing after I was charged with a criminal offense in federal court?

    Detention Hearing

    The Detention Hearing follows the initial appearance.  You have a right to a detention hearing if the government “moves for detention”.  If the government “moves for detention” then they are asking the court to hold you in jail until your case is heard.  This is common in federal court.

    Your detention hearing will be conducted by a magistrate judge.  The magistrate judge will look at the U.S. Code to see what factors to consider in determining whether you should be held or released pending arraignment.  Although, there are many factors the analysis comes down to three things. (1) Does the magistrate judge believe that you will show up for future court appearances? (2) Does the magistrate judge believe that your release will present a danger to the community? (3) Does the government have a strong case against you?  Under some circumstances there may be a presumption that arises that you will be detained.  You may be able to rebut the presumption. Often, you will need a reputable “third party custodian” in order to be released.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in federal criminal cases that cost them years away from their families and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, Busted by the Federal Authorities, A Handbook for Defendants facing Federal Criminal Prosecution or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.