At every stage of the criminal justice process, from arrest to the trial, the stakes increase for the accused. The weight of the consequences and their impact on your life looms at every stage. But the best possible outcomes in criminal cases are only secured when the defendants work with an experienced Asheville criminal defense attorney.
At Doug Edwards Law in Asheville, NC, we know how both sides of the criminal justice system work, understand the local courts, and have extensive experience with plea bargains and trials. Our team is led by a former prosecutor, and you can rest assured that we will use all our experience and resources to fight for the best outcome possible in your case.
When you need a criminal defense lawyer in Asheville, you want to work with someone that is invested in securing the best results for you, whether it’s negotiating a reduction of the charges, a dismissal, or a not-guilty verdict at trial. From the initial consultation through the investigation and court trial, a criminal defense lawyer from Doug Edwards Law will provide the dedicated, high-quality criminal defense you need.
Call us today at (828) 702-8743 for a free case review and consultation!
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The United States Constitution guarantees several rights to every citizen to prevent overreach by the government. However, it’s a constant battle to ensure that prosecutors, law enforcement, and courts fully respect these rights.
The help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical to ensuring that your rights are protected and that you are being treated fairly. Some of the rights awarded by the constitution are well known, and others might not be as familiar.
The following are some of the protections the constitution awards criminal defendants.
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that the Federal Government not deprive a person of liberty, life, or property without the due process of the law. The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to a grand jury, prohibits double jeopardy, and protects criminal defendants from self-incrimination. As such, the state should have clear procedures for all criminal matters and should not convict someone of a crime without following due process.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution mirrors the 5th Amendment in that it states that the government cannot deprive “any person of life, liberty, or property without the due process of law.” The 5th Amendment includes similar protetions, along with the protections against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and other due process rights as it relates to criminal proceedings.
A criminal defendant has a right to representation by an attorney. For people that can’t afford one, the state is required to provide an attorney, and the police may not interrogate a person who has requested an attorney.
The 6th Amendment also provides a right to get their case decided by an impartial jury. A body of law has been developed over the years to stipulate the jury selection process and the conduct of jury trials.
A criminal defendant also has the right to confront the witnesses against him. This typically means that the state must present all evidence, including the testimony of witnesses to prove guilt in open court and provide the defendant the opportunity to challenge the evidence and cross-examine the witnesses.
The 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by the police. The 4th Amendment does not prohibit all searches and seizures, just those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.
Law enforcement may obtain a warrant, or may conduct a search based off of probable cause, or incident to arrest. The 4th Amendment is often the basis for the defendant to ask the court to suppress any evidence obtained by the government resulting from an illegal search or seizure.
No one should be compelled to give testimony against themselves. You have the right to refuse to testify in your criminal proceeding if you believe testifying will be helping the State’s case. This is commonly referred to as “pleading the fifth.”
Under the same amendment, the state cannot generally prosecute the defendant again for the same crime.
This calls for the state to prescribe fines and other forms of punishment that are fair and proportional to the crime. It prohibits the courts from imposing disproportionate or unreasonable bail for people in police custody.
It also prohibits cruel or unusual punishment, which may include lengthy prison terms for non-violent offenses or the death penalty for crimes other than capital murder.
In North Carolina, crimes fall under two categories – misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are the more serious offenses, and being convicted of a felony could result in lengthy prison time and fines.
A misdemeanor is a less serious crime that’s punishable by no more than 150 days in jail, with the exception of Driving While Impaired offenses.
You might be relieved when you’re charged with a “minor” misdemeanor. However, you could be making a huge mistake by not taking it seriously. A conviction could still result in serious consequences, including a permanent criminal record, which can impact employment and future job opportunities and housing options.
If you find yourself in trouble with the law, you might assume that if you say the right things you will be able to talk your way out of the situation. But experience has shown us that this is rarely the case. You have to take an arrest or criminal investigation seriously and know when it’s time to contact an attorney.
Don’t give out a statement to the police or investigators by yourself simply because you think contacting an attorney would make you look guilty. This is a bad misconception; in fact, police officers who are themselves charged with a crime will immediately get a defense attorney. So, when the police start questioning you, you should assume they don’t have enough evidence to arrest you and are counting on you to make a statement that incriminates you.
An Asheville criminal defense attorney will represent your best interests and communicate with investigators without saying anything that can be used against you in court, while at the same time seeking information that can be used to begin developing a defense to your charges.
You should understand that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. It is very important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney prior to giving any statement to law enforcement officials.
The only thing you should say to the police if you’re questioned is “I’d like to speak to an attorney.”
An individual who has had three prior felony convictions, including guilty pleas, as an adult, no matter where the crimes were committed, may be considered a habitual offender. You might be wondering what happens when you’re convicted as a habitual felon.
Well, you can generally expect harsher sentencing, including longer prison time as a result of your status as a habitual felon. If you are found to be a habitual felon, whether you are convicted of a felony at trial or plead guilty to one, you will be sentenced at the felony class level up to four times higher than the felony that you’re currently being charged for.
To be found a habitual felon in North Carolina, the case has to meet the following criteria:
Although the habitual offender law in NC is not as severe as the “three strikes” law enacted in other states that could result in lifetime incarceration for a minor crime following two previous offenses, it could still result in lengthy prison sentences.
For this reason, if you have a criminal record, it’s always a smart move to understand your status under NC laws and always work with a lawyer when you’re charged to mitigate your risks.
An Asheville criminal defense attorney from Doug Edwards Law will fight for the best outcome in your case. Here are some of the ways we will help you.
Before your case goes to trial, there’s usually a lot of work to do. Your lawyer will investigate your case details through the discovery process and obtain the State’s evidence from the prosecutor. This includes reports, photographs, body camera, dash camera video, any surveillance video, witness names and statements, the results of laboratory tests, among other items.
The State is required by law to provide the defense with the case file. In 1996 North Carolina adopted open-file discovery requirements. In 2005, the North Carolina legislature extended the open-file requirements to trial-level cases within the original jurisdiction of the Superior Court.
Open-file discovery requirements provide that the defendant is entitled to complete files of all law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case. This means that the State must provide to criminal defendants a complete file from law enforcement and any other agency involved in the prosecution.
Your lawyer will also seek out statements from the witnesses and prepare a solid case on your behalf.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and the evidence, your attorney may negotiate a plea agreement on your behalf. Moreover, your attorney will guide and advise you about reasonable plea deals from the prosecution, and what the terms of the plea agreement mean.
Given that your lawyer will have already handled many cases similar to yours, they are in a much better position to not only explain the gravity of the charges against you as well as the possible consequences of a conviction. When they learn the details of your case, they can advise you on the best legal defense strategies.
Criminal defense lawyers usually have knowledge and experience dealing with the state’s criminal justice system. With the practical knowledge they’ve amassed over the years, they can defend your rights and find potential weaknesses or inconsistencies in the case that could work in your favor. These may be factual inconsistencies or legal technicalities that help craft a viable defense option.
They are well familiarized with the court personnel, and in many cases, they have been working with the prosecutors and judges you will encounter during your case, which may positively benefit you.
Your attorney also has trial and prosecution experience, which can provide important insight into the processes and how the other side is thinking and/or strategizing. When you choose to work with us, you have the tools, resources, and experience you need for an unwavering defense.
The cost of hiring legal representation varies because every criminal case is unique. Criminal defense lawyers may charge on either a flat rate or retainer basis depending on the situation.
The type of case, the lawyer’s experience, the seriousness of the case, and whether or not the case will go to trial are all factors that affect the cost of representation. However, if you are unable to afford to hire a lawyer, the court will appoint an attorney for you..
We can give you an honest breakdown of how much we’ll charge to defend against the criminal charges you’re facing as part of our free initial consultation.
The court appoints a public defender to provide representation whenever a defendant cannot afford to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Public defenders usually have high caseloads, meaning that they may have less time and attention to devote to each client’s case. They are commonly overworked as they often handle many cases at once. For this reason, they might be unable to give your case the attention it deserves.
Working with a skilled Asheville criminal defense attorney from Doug Edwards Law will come with many benefits, including:
You can exercise your right to choose the right lawyer for your case. This is unlike working with a public defender as the court will be responsible for appointing one for you. You will have the opportunity to get to know your lawyer before you hire them. Doug Edwards Law provides free initial consultations, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and obtain an initial opinion as to potential defenses.
At our firm, we have the ability to accept cases that work for us. This means that our lawyers can focus on the cases at hand better. This way, your attorney will have more time to devote to your case to build a strong defense and will be available when you need him.
As a dedicated criminal defense practice, we have the tools and resources to devote to your case. Doug also maintains relationships with private investigators and experts in a number of fields. Doug will work hard to assemble a team of professionals to provide the best representation possible.
You will work directly with Doug to get the best possible outcome depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. Doug’s goal is to provide aggressive representation to help you obtain an outcome that is in your best interest, and that you can be satisfied with.
Criminal cases are difficult cases, that require significant time and energy to resolve. Doug will work tirelessly to help you put your particular situation behind you, and move forward in your life.
While you have the right to represent yourself, in most circumstances, self-representation is not recommended. Unless you’re handling your parking ticket, a jaywalking citation, or a seatbelt ticket, you certainly want to have an experienced defense lawyer help you with any criminal charges. Trying to handle a case on your own without retaining legal counsel puts your future in serious jeopardy.
If you have reason to believe that you’re under criminal investigation, you want to have an experienced lawyer by your side. A lawyer will have the skills and experience to protect your constitutional rights and prevent you from making mistakes such as giving damaging statements to the police.
Going forward without legal help can expose you to a huge amount of risk.
It is ultimately up to you whether you choose to accept a plea deal. However, it’s in your best interest to discuss the issue with your attorney to establish the costs and benefits of the bargain. Generally, taking a plea bargain means you will plead guilty to a crime, which may result in a permanent criminal record and you have to abide by the sentence imposed by the court.
Once you plead guilty to the charges, a sentencing hearing will commence where a judge will impose the details of your punishment. You should be aware of the potential outcome before agreeing to a plea deal.
If a plea agreement is in your best interest considering the facts and circumstances of your case, your Asheville criminal defense lawyer can help you attain the best possible plea deal for your case. They will advise you on whether it is a good idea to accept one. Your attorney will also be able to advise you of the consequences of accepting or not accepting the plea offer.
If you’re convicted of a crime, you might think you don’t have any options. But in some cases, there could be valid reasons to appeal the conviction. The law allows you to appeal the court’s decision under certain circumstances.
Generally, it’s in your best interest to discuss your case with an attorney to establish whether an appeal is the right course of action. After all, if you do win an appeal, you might be able to get a new trial or get a different sentence. Your lawyer will be able to assess your case and establish if an appeal is possible.
When your future is hanging in the balance following an arrest, you want to hire an understanding and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who can walk you through the case and fight fiercely to protect your rights.
The Asheville criminal defense attorneys at Doug Edwards Law are ready to help. Schedule a free consultation with us today at (828) 702-8743. We can answer all your questions with no obligations to you.