When you’re facing criminal charges in North Carolina, you need a criminal defense attorney who takes your future as seriously as you do. Having a felony or misdemeanor on your record for theft, burglary, robbery or other property crimes can be devastating. Future jobs, housing, and other opportunities can all be affected.

At Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we are on your side even when the law is not. We treat our clients like people, not like criminals. When you meet with us, you will always receive the professionalism and respect you deserve. Our goal is to defend your rights and your freedom.

We have won many acquittals and dismissals in criminal law courts, and we hope to do the same for you.

Wilmington Property Crimes Defense Lawyers

If you have never faced a criminal charge before, you are probably wondering what happens next. As with most things, it’s nothing like what happens on TV. The exact sequence of events will depend on what kind of crime the state is charging you with.

What To Expect After A Misdemeanor Charge

Misdemeanors are less serious criminal offenses. These include property crimes like breaking and entering, certain kinds of trespassing, and the destruction of property. White-collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement can qualify as misdemeanors under the law as well, depending on the circumstances.

When charged with a misdemeanor, these are the steps you’ll have to go through:

  • First courtroom appearance: If appropriate, you would enter a plea of not guilty at this time when appearing before the judge. Your criminal defense lawyer can be with you at this appearance.
  • Negotiations before the trial: At this point, your defense attorney will argue on your behalf before the trial starts. They will try to secure lesser charges or even have the charges dropped entirely. This negotiation can take several months.
  • Trial: If negotiations are unsuccessful, the trial for your misdemeanor charges will begin.

Prosecutors will often try to avoid a full-blown trial because of the time and energy required, but we will defend you for as long as necessary. You can rely on our attorney-client relationship until the very end of the legal process.

How To Choose A Property Crimes Defense Lawyer In Wilmington, North Carolina

When dealing with law enforcement and the district attorney’s office, you need the best legal representation you can possibly get. You should not take criminal charges lightly. Here are some tips for choosing a lawyer that will meet your needs.

What Makes A Great Criminal Defense Attorney?

If possible, you should always hold out until you have excellent legal counsel on your side. A truly exceptional defense lawyer will be:

  • A good listener: When you talk to your lawyer, you should feel as though you are really being heard. No matter what your arrest record is or what accusations the county sheriff’s office has leveled against you, a good lawyer will always listen.
  • Compassionate: Despite their cerebral profession, good lawyers do what they do because they connect with people’s problems and want to help solve them.
  • Tenacious: What an attorney does when faced with a setback speaks volumes. The best ones never give up until they have done everything they can to help their clients, whether it’s combing through public records, reviewing evidence, or crafting a line of questioning.
  • Creative: Great attorneys will invent new ways of defending their clients based on the situation at hand.

While finding a great attorney takes work, it’s worth all the effort and more. Great attorneys will negotiate a lower bail on your behalf, perceive the holes in the prosecution’s case, and may even be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Nothing is more critical to your success.

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Attorney?

If a good lawyer is your best chance at a good outcome, a bad lawyer is the biggest threat to your freedom. You should avoid them at all costs.

An attorney is likely a poor fit if you perceive any of the following:

  • Poor communication skills
  • Lack of compassion and enthusiasm for your case
  • A history of serious ethics violations or other disciplinary actions
  • Suspicious billing practices
  • A pattern of missed deadlines, particularly involving statutes of limitations

There are other attorneys out there. Do not settle for someone that will compromise your chance at freedom.

Evaluating Your Choices

There are many ways to evaluate potential attorneys, including:

  • Reading online reviews, not just testimonials on their website
  • Talking to friends and family who have used a particular attorney in the past
  • Interviewing the attorney in person about their past cases and communication style

Take your time when making this decision. This person will be communicating on your behalf with North Carolina courts, prosecuting attorneys, the sheriff’s office, and other officials. You want to be sure they are doing so in a way that gives you the greatest advantage.

Understanding The Legal Process For Property Crimes In North Carolina

While some property crimes are only misdemeanors, many of them rise to the level of a felony because of their greater impact on victims. The penalties for a felony can include prison time, fines, and civil forfeiture.

What counts as a felony depends on the crime. Theft of personal property, also known as larceny, qualifies as a felony in North Carolina when the total value of stolen goods is above a certain dollar value, most often $1,000. Stealing a motor vehicle almost always qualifies as a felony, for instance. The district attorney can also charge you with a felony if a weapon was involved or if you have a prior criminal record.

Legal Process: Felonies

Because felonies carry heavier penalties than misdemeanors, the criminal process is longer and more involved. Here’s what you can expect, though there may be some variation in your case.

  • First courtroom appearance: Similar to misdemeanor proceedings, you will appear in court before a judge, at which point they will read the charges against you and advise you of the maximum penalties under the law. You do not have to plead guilty or not guilty at this point.
  • Discovery phase: This is also referred to as “preliminary settings.” At this point, our law firm will review all available evidence, including anything that the prosecution has from law enforcement agencies.
  • Pretrial negotiation: After reviewing the evidence, we will meet with the prosecution and try to negotiate better terms on your behalf. This could include a plea bargain, charge dismissal, probation without incarceration, and other alternatives to a trial.
  • Probable cause hearing: If negotiations don’t result in a deal that’s in your best interest, we can challenge the evidence against you in a final plea bargain attempt at a so-called “probable cause hearing,” though this step is rare.
  • Grand jury: A jury looks at the evidence against you and issues an indictment if they believe a trial is warranted.

If a trial does occur, you will attend an arraignment hearing, at which point you will enter a plea. Negotiations can sometimes continue during the trial process, and you may be able to accept a late-stage plea bargain. If convicted at the end of the trial, we will continue to advocate zealously on your behalf to get the lowest possible sentence. Finally, appeals may be possible all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court, or possibly beyond.

Beating A Felony Charge

Clearing you of a felony charge is no easy thing. However, our legal team has special insight into how they will build a case against you. Our familiarity with standard law enforcement procedures means that we know where they are likely to make mistakes that we can use to our advantage. With rigorous negotiating and examination of the evidence, our attorneys are often able to reduce felonies to misdemeanors, or even get them dismissed altogether.

Court-Appointed Versus Private Attorneys In Property Crimes Defense

When choosing a criminal defense attorney, you may have several choices depending on the circumstances. You can hire a private lawyer, use a public defender if you lack funds, or you can choose to represent yourself. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.

Public Defenders: Pros And Cons

Only certain people qualify for a public defender. This is a court-appointed lawyer who is only available to those who don’t have enough money to hire an attorney on their own. Advantages of a public defender include:

  • They have the same basic training and licensure as private lawyers.
  • Some have a lot of experience, as they try hundreds of criminal cases every year.
  • Some focus on one area of law, so tend to be up-to-date on recent legal changes.
  • They know the quirks of each judge and each court since they appear so often.

The main disadvantage of public defenders is that their caseloads are incredibly high. A single attorney could be working on 100 cases at the same time. As a result, public defenders often lack the time and energy to fully devote themselves to a given criminal case. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do their work as thoroughly as they would otherwise be able to.

Private Attorneys: Pros And Cons

Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer is what most criminal defendants choose to do. While they are a more expensive option than a public defender, private lawyers offer several advantages:

  • More manageable caseloads, which allows them to learn the details of your situation extremely well, providing the attention and resources you deserve
  • Greater access to outside research, expert witnesses, private labs, and other facilities for an independent investigation
  • Easy availability via email or the phone, as opposed to overworked public defenders

In general, a private attorney will only take on a case if they have the resources to fully commit themselves to their client. When your freedom is on the line, that is what you want.

Representing Yourself: Pros And Cons

While you technically have a right to act as your own legal counsel, representing yourself in a criminal trial is never a good idea. Not only will you be up against an experienced lawyer on the other side; you will make crucial mistakes that could mean the difference between being convicted and going free. Even if you are completely innocent, you can still inadvertently torpedo your case and serve time for an act you did not commit. The risks are far too great to go this route.

Get The Legal Help You Need

Our team at Marcilliat & Mills PLLCs has won hundreds of favorable results for our clients. We care about your freedom. We believe that everyone deserves a high-quality legal defense during a difficult time, which is why we have practiced law for decades. We care about what happens to our clients, and we do everything we can to help them.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact our office and find out how we can help. You can reach us through our online contact form or else call us: 919-838-6643. In addition to our Wilmington office, we have five locations across North Carolina.

State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case.

In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive-by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.

State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed.

Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to an alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.

State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed.

After conducting an investigation and communicating with prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.

State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death.

Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.

State v. J.G.:

Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.