Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney

Charlotte police conduct thousands of criminal arrests every year for all types of charges, from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. If you are arrested for the first time for any offense, it is an understandably harrowing and distressing situation you may not know how to navigate on your own. You need to consult a Charlotte criminal defense lawyer immediately after an arrest for any crime.

Protecting Your Future After A Criminal Accusation

A criminal charge puts much at risk, including your freedom. If you are an immigrant, an accusation can even derail your dream of living and working in the United States. The attorneys at Butler, Quinn & Hochman, PLLC, have years of professional experience handling criminal defense for US citizens as well as immigrants facing deportation. Whatever your case demands, you can expect compassionate and responsive legal counsel from our team.

The attorneys at Butler, Quinn & Hochman, PLLC, understand the high stakes of criminal cases and work tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights and their futures. Whether you have been wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit and need to prove your innocence, or you did break the law and need help mitigating the penalties you face in sentencing, trust our team to help you in every way we can.

We believe that all people are innocent until proven guilty and that everyone deserves their day in court. No matter how dire your situation seems now, you have rights, and our attorneys are fully prepared to protect them. After an arrest in Charlotte, remember your constitutional rights and seek out a trustworthy defense attorney to provide ongoing support and guidance through the difficult proceedings ahead of you.

Know Your Rights After an Arrest

The US Constitution ensures that every American citizen has certain rights that cannot be ignored in any situation, two of which come into play upon arrest for a crime. First is the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent upon arrest. You are not required to act as a witness against yourself and are protected from self-incrimination with your right to remain silent. As soon as you are placed under arrest, comply with the arresting officers’ instructions but say nothing.

Second is your Sixth Amendment right to legal representation. You have the right to an attorney, and finding the right Charlotte criminal defense lawyer can be one of the most important aspects of your case. You should evaluate an attorney based not only on their overall level of criminal defense experience but also their level of experience handling cases similar to yours. The team at Butler, Quinn & Hochman, PLLC, has successfully represented many criminal cases in Charlotte.

Handling All Types Of Criminal Cases

Serving Charlotte and surrounding areas, we are prepared to defend you against any criminal charge on the state or federal level. The scope of our practice includes defending clients against charges such as:

  • Drunk driving and traffic violations. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most common crimes in the state that can lead to penalties such as fines, jail time, and a suspended driver’s license. The sentencing judge may also assign additional penalties at their discretion, such as community service and mandatory substance abuse treatment, and a defendant could face additional charges for traffic violations like reckless driving.
  • Drug crimes, including possession, distribution and trafficking. Drug-related criminal offenses are some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in the United States. It’s possible for an individual to face severe penalties for possession of illicit substances, and the penalties they face will typically depend on the type of drug they had in their possession, the quantity, and whether they intended to sell or traffic the substance.
  • Assault and other violent crimes. These are some of the most serious criminal charges a person can face and typically involve harm and civil damages to a victim. If you have been charged with any form of assault or a violent crime, the penalties you could face will usually depend on whether you harmed anyone and the extent of the harm done to them. The victim is also likely to file a personal injury claim against the defendant.
  • Sexual assault. Prosecutors tend to pursue convictions in sex crime cases very aggressively. The penalties assigned to the defendant will usually depend on the nature of the offense and the age and condition of the alleged victim. Penalties may include fines, jail time, and mandatory registration as a sex offender that may last for years or permanently.
  • White collar crimes. White collar crimes are typically nonviolent financial crimes, typically conducted in the business world. Various forms of fraud, embezzlement, intellectual property violations, and other financial crimes committed for personal gain all fall under the umbrella of white collar crime. Despite these offenses being nonviolent, they can be incredibly damaging to many victims and lead to severe penalties.
  • Racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) charges. It’s possible for multiple parties to face conviction under the RICO Act, and if one member of a criminal enterprise is charged with a felony, all other members can face the same charges. These are complex cases that typically evolve over months or even years, and many of these cases involve federal law enforcement agencies.

These are just a few examples of the types of cases we handle for clients in Charlotte and the surrounding communities. The sooner you speak with a knowledgeable defense lawyer, the better prepared we will be to protect your future and help you achieve a favorable outcome. You can only hurt your chances by speaking to police or prosecutors on your own. Consult with your own attorney before making any important decisions.

What to Do After an Arrest in Charlotte

When you are placed under arrest, the arresting officer is required to read you your Miranda rights, explaining that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say could be used against you in court, and that you have the right to an attorney. Be sure to pay close attention to what they say and take these rights very seriously. Even if you know you have done nothing wrong, you should not try to explain your way out of the situation.

Anything you say to the police could be used against you in various ways. Statements taken out of context could appear as admissions of guilt when they are recorded in a police report, and you could unintentionally say something that aids the prosecution in securing your conviction. Remain silent and do not contend with arresting officers, or you could face additional charges for resisting arrest.

After booking, you will be allowed to make phone calls. You should notify your family of your situation and then reach out to a trusted Charlotte criminal defense lawyer. Once you meet with your attorney, they can help determine your most viable defenses and assist you in building the foundations of your defense. You may have more defenses available to you than you initially realize, and they will help uncover all such defenses in your case.

A Proven Ally For Immigrants Facing Criminal Charges

Criminal matters are serious for anyone. For immigrants, an accusation can mean the end of a lifetime dream. Because we handle both criminal and immigration law matters, we are able to counsel clients on the ways a criminal charge can affect immigration status. We draw upon our extensive experience in both areas to help immigrants avoid the costly consequences of criminal accusations.

If you or a loved one is an immigrant facing deportation along with the other penalties that might be assigned to you if you are convicted, it is crucial that you speak with a Charlotte criminal defense lawyer who has proven experience representing immigrants facing criminal charges. The right attorney can help you make clearer sense of your situation and determine the most viable defenses available to you.

Butler, Quinn & Hochman, PLLC, offers legal counsel in both English and Spanish to reach a wider range of potential clients. When you face immigration-related consequences along with the standard penalties that could be assigned for the charges against you, it is vital to have an attorney with whom you can effectively communicate and who can provide the highest levels of defense counsel in every stage of your case.

Building an Effective Defense for Your Case in Charlotte

In every criminal case, the prosecution faces the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The criminal justice system of the United States requires the court to consider a defendant innocent until they are proven guilty to this high standard of proof. The prosecution in your case will leverage all the admissible evidence and witness testimony they have against you in their efforts to secure a conviction.

It is your Charlotte criminal defense lawyer’s job to prevent the prosecution from meeting this burden of proof. The average person may not be able to identify all the various defenses available to them, especially when success with their case requires attacking the prosecution’s case on procedural grounds:

  • Challenging the admissibility of evidence is a key point of defense in many criminal cases. Prosecutors must meet strict requirements when it comes to obtaining evidence and admitting it into the court’s consideration. Your Charlotte criminal defense lawyer will be able to identify any procedural missteps when it comes to the prosecution’s handling of the evidence they present against you.
  • Your criminal defense attorney may challenge the chain of custody for the evidence brought against you. For example, if you have been arrested for DWI but your attorney notices that the police, chemical testing lab, or prosecutors mishandled the chemical test sample used to prove that you were intoxicated, it is possible to have the evidence declared inadmissible due to chain of custody violation.
  • Cross-examination of witnesses is crucial for criminal defense. You have the right to cross-examine any witnesses brought to testify against you, and cross-examination can uncover inconsistencies or even fabrications in a witness’s testimony. Your attorney can develop various questions for cross-examination that could potentially undermine a witness’s credibility.
  • Your attorney can help establish an alibi if you have been wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit. Perhaps the police profiled you or arrested you because you matched the description of a suspect they were pursuing. A good attorney can help their client establish a paper trail that proves an alibi by using cell phone records, GPS data, purchase receipts, and witness statements that place the defendant away from the crime scene.

These are just a few examples of how your Charlotte criminal defense lawyer may assist you in disproving the prosecution’s case. If you broke the law or made a mistake, your attorney can still help you in various ways. For example, you may need to prove that while you technically committed a crime, you had no intent to commit the crime or that you were an unknowing and/or unwilling participant in a criminal act.

You may also need to prove you acted the way you did because of a clear emergency, under duress, or due to other forces beyond your control. It is also possible for a defendant to prove they were not mentally competent to complete the crime or lacked the capacity to understand what they were doing was wrong. Some defendants may need to prove they have mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and other medical issues to make their cases.

Possible Penalties for Criminal Prosecution in Charlotte

When an individual has been charged with any crime, their primary concern is typically whether they will face incarceration if they are convicted. The reality is that jail time is just one of many possible penalties that might be assigned to a defendant. In North Carolina, many criminal offenses have mandatory minimum sentences that must be assigned when defendants are convicted. Other offenses are more variable when it comes to penalties for conviction.

The penalties you could face if you are convicted of a crime in Charlotte will largely depend on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, your criminal record of past offenses, whether you face multiple charges, and whether you caused bodily harm or death to anyone else with your actions. It’s possible for some crimes to be charged as misdemeanors or felonies based on the aggravating and mitigating factors present in a case.

Aggravating factors work against the defendant and encourage a sentencing judge to seek harsher penalties while mitigating factors aid the defendant in securing a lighter sentence. For example, if you have been charged with DWI, a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than .09% would be a mitigating factor, while an excessive BAC of .15% or more would be an aggravating factor.

It’s possible for an offense that usually qualifies as a misdemeanor to escalate to a felony due to multiple aggravating factors present in the case. Aggravating factors also increase the severity of the penalties that could be assigned to the defendant. It’s possible for any defendant to face a wide range of penalties for conviction, which may include:

  • Incarceration. If you are sentenced to incarceration for a misdemeanor, you will go to county jail, but incarceration for a felony will be in state prison and likely for much longer. Some first-time offenders who are sentenced to jail time may have their incarceration term suspended as long as they comply with specific conditions assigned by the judge.
  • Fines. A defendant could face hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines based on the severity of their offense. The defendant will also likely pay many court fees and penalty assessments, and depending on the type of offense they committed, they could face additional financial penalties in the future.
  • Loss of professional licenses. Any professional license holder who is convicted of a crime could face disciplinary action with their licensing board and state regulatory agencies, especially if the crime they committed had anything to do with their work. For example, a commercial truck driver convicted of DWI is likely to lose their commercial driver’s license, forcing them to find alternative employment.
  • Sex offender registration. Anyone convicted of a sex crime may be compelled to register as a sex offender. Their personal information and the details of their offense will be viewable to the public, and their status as a sex offender may prevent them from working certain jobs or living in certain areas. It’s possible for sex offender status to last for years or permanently.
  • Mandatory substance abuse treatment and counseling. If a defendant is charged with DWI or a drug-related offense and the sentencing judge recognizes they have a substance abuse disorder, they may recognize the need for treatment to prevent the defendant from making the same mistakes in the future. The defendant could be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program and counseling at their own expense.
  • Community service. Many judges will assign convicted defendants to perform community service as part of the repayment of their debt to society. The judge will stipulate the number of hours they must complete and may assign them to specific community service jobs that reflect the nature of their offense.
  • Restitution to victims. If the defendant harmed anyone with their actions, the judge sentencing them will likely require them to pay restitution to the victim. Additionally, it is possible for the victim of a crime to pursue a civil claim against the defendant, seeking compensation for economic and non-economic damages the defendant inflicted with their actions.
  • Probation. This may be assigned in lieu of or in addition to incarceration. During probation, a defendant will need to meet with a probation officer, submit drug and alcohol testing samples, and face travel restrictions until their probation is complete. If they violate the terms of their probation, they can face severe consequences, likely including jail time.
  • Victim impact panels. This is commonly assigned in DWI cases. A defendant may be compelled to attend a victim impact panel, such as the one hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This will confront the defendant with people who have been personally affected by drunk driving accidents and the families of victims killed by drunk drivers, encouraging the defendant to realize the consequences of their actions more acutely.

Every criminal case is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all legal strategy that will work for every defendant. Whether you were wrongfully accused and need to prove your innocence, or you broke the law and need help reducing the penalties that could be assigned to you, the right Charlotte criminal defense lawyer is an invaluable asset to have on your side throughout the difficult proceedings ahead of you.

Plea Bargaining in Charlotte Criminal Cases

When a defendant has broken the law, and the prosecution has more than enough evidence to secure a conviction, the prosecution may consider a plea bargain. A plea bargain helps conserve court resources and streamlines a criminal case substantially, but prosecutors are willing to extend these offers only in certain situations. First-time offenders and individuals charged with nonviolent crimes are most likely to receive plea offers from prosecutors.

In a plea deal, the prosecution agrees to reduce or even remove charges against the defendant, lowering their final sentence in exchange for the defendant’s immediate guilty plea. It is vital to have an experienced Charlotte criminal defense lawyer on your side when it comes to assessing a plea deal. For some defendants, plea bargaining could mean a substantial reduction in their penalties, but for others, accepting a plea deal can have a worse outcome than fighting a charge in court.

Get The Legal Help You Need

Our attorneys want to help you put this criminal matter behind you. To arrange a legal consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Charlotte, contact our law offices online or by telephone at 704-569-9800.

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