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Misdemeanor Defense

We handle criminal matters of all levels, from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. For every client, we employ a results-oriented approach based on the facts and circumstance of the individual case.

Misdemeanor Defense Attorney In Raleigh, NC

Chris handles a wide variety of misdemeanor charges for his clients. The most common misdemeanor cases that Chris handles are possession of marijuana, larceny, and assault because these cases are the most frequently charged.

The typical possession of marijuana case begins when the defendant commits a minor . This traffic violation allows the officer to stop the defendant’s vehicle to issue a citation. When the officer approaches the vehicle, he or she often smells an odor of marijuana, which when combined with additional factors, gives the officer probable cause to search the vehicle. Frequently, the defendant also consents to a search and admits to the officer that marijuana is in the vehicle. Defenses in marijuana cases arise most often when challenging reasonable suspicion to stop, probable cause to search, and difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant actually possessed the marijuana. The latter defense often arises when multiple people are in the vehicle, and no one accepts responsibility for the marijuana that the officer found. Many defendants in drug possession cases qualify for deferrals that involve taking drug education classes and that result in the dismissal of the charges.

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Larceny cases most frequently occur when clients attempt to take property from stores. In these cases, the State generally needs more than the charging officer to prove the case because this officer did not actually witness the incident. As a result, larceny cases are often dismissed because the witness, who usually is the loss prevention officer of the store, does not come to court. If the witness does show up in court, Chris often secures a deferral for his client that involves doing community service to earn a dismissal.

Like larceny cases, assault cases often require a witness other than the charging officer if the State is going to have a chance of proving the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The witness typically is the alleged victim of the assault, but often, law enforcement charges both parties involved in the altercation. Assault cases that do not involve a domestic violence relationship often result in a dismissal because the witness does not appear in court or because the witness does not wish to prosecute the case.

While possession of marijuana, larceny, and assault are three of the most common misdemeanor cases that Chris handles, he also handles a range of other charges. These charges include possession of controlled substances, possession of paraphernalia, underage consumption of alcohol, possession of an open container of alcohol, public consumption of alcohol, intoxicated and disruptive behavior, injury to real property, injury to personal property, simple affray, , assault by pointing a gun, assault on an unborn child, sexual battery, communicating threats, stalking, cyber stalking, shoplifting, concealment of goods, possession of stolen property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and other offenses.


What are the Difference Between Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies in North Carolina?

The statutes in North Carolina classify offenses as infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. Infractions are not criminal offenses. The only possible penalty for an infraction is payment of court costs and a fine. In Wake County, infractions most commonly relate to minor traffic and regulatory offenses, like Speeding, Failure to Stop at a Stop Light, or Improper Equipment.

Unlike infractions, the potential punishments for misdemeanors and felonies include more than just court costs and a fine. The consequences of misdemeanor convictions generally are less significant than the consequences for felony convictions. Misdemeanor convictions can result in shorter jail sentences, while felony offenses can result in longer prison sentences.

What is the Maximum Potential Punishment for a Misdemeanor in Raleigh, North Carolina?

As a general rule, the maximum potential punishment for a misdemeanor offense is 150 days in jail. This maximum punishment only applies to defendants convicted of A1 misdemeanors who have five or more prior convictions. Driving While Impaired cases are the exception to this general rule, however. DWI cases have a special sentencing statute that depends on a variety of factors, and the most serious misdemeanor DWI cases can result in jail sentences of up to three years. 

How do courts calculate the prior record level for misdemeanor cases in North Carolina?

For misdemeanor sentencing purposes, a defendant is either a prior record Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. A defendant who is a Level 1 has no prior criminal convictions. A Level 2 prior record level applies to defendants with between one and four priors. If the defendant has five or more prior criminal convictions, then he or she is a Level 3. In addition to calculating the defendant’s prior record level, Wake County courts also will determine the class of misdemeanor of which the defendant was convicted.

What are the classes of misdemeanors for cases in Wake County?

There are four different classes of misdemeanors: Class A1, Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3.

Misdemeanors classified as A1 generally relate to assaults that are aggravated in some way. Class A1 misdemeanors are one level below felony offenses, and the maximum possible punishment for a Class A1 misdemeanor is 150 days in jail. At the Law Office of Christopher R. Detwiler, PLLC, Chris regularly represents clients on these common Class A1 misdemeanors: Assault on a Female, Assault Inflicting Serious Injury, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Assault by Pointing a Gun, Child Abuse, Misdemeanor Death by Motor Vehicle, and Sexual Battery. 

The maximum potential punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is 120 days in jail. Chris handles a variety of Class 1 Misdemeanors at the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, including Forgery, False Imprisonment, Larceny, Domestic Criminal Trespass, Communicating Threats, Speed to Elude, Aggressive Driving, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

In Wake County, Chris handles the following Class 2 misdemeanors regularly: Simple Assault, First Degree Trespass, Indecent Exposure, Disorderly Conduct, and Reckless Driving. The maximum punishment for Class 2 misdemeanor convictions is sixty days in jail. 

Common Class 3 misdemeanors handled in Raleigh include Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia, Second Degree Trespass, Intoxicated and Disruptive in Public, and Driving While License Revoked (Not Impaired Revocation). A defendant convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor faces nothing more than court costs and a fine if he or she has three or fewer prior convictions. A defendant with four prior convictions may receive an intermediate punishment, which generally would mean probation if convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor. The maximum potential punishment for a Class 3 misdemeanor is 20 days in jail, and this maximum only applies to defendants with 5 or more prior convictions.

How are Misdemeanor Cases Usually Resolved in Wake County, North Carolina?

Misdemeanor cases handled at the Wake County Justice Center in Raleigh are generally resolved in one of five ways. First, Chris convinces the Assistant District Attorney handling the case to dismiss the case. The case is more likely to be dismissed when the defendant has a good record, and when the defendant has strong potential defenses.

Second, the State of North Carolina will dismiss the charges against the Defendant if the necessary witnesses do not appear in court enough. If the charging law enforcement officer, or other necessary witness, is not present on multiple court dates, then Assistant District Attorney may dismiss the case. Usually, a necessary witness will have to miss court two or three times before a dismissal occurs on these grounds in Wake County.

Third, Chris may negotiate a deferral for his client in an effort to resolve the misdemeanor case. Deferrals typically involve an admission of guilt, and an agreement between the defendant and the State. The defendant agrees to stay out of trouble, complete community service or a class, and sometimes pay court costs fines, and fees. In exchange, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office agrees to dismiss the case upon compliance with the conditions of the deferral.

Common misdemeanor deferrals for drug and alcohol cases involve a sixteen-hour class, and up to $433 in court costs, fines, and fees. The defendant has six months to complete the class and meet the financial obligation, but the court may grant more time in special circumstances.

Common misdemeanor deferrals for cases that are not traffic offenses and that are not related to drug and alcohol use focus on community service. Chris often negotiates somewhere between ten and seventy-five hours of community service in exchange for a dismissal on these types of deferrals. Like deferrals involving drugs and alcohol, there is potentially a financial obligation of up to $433.

Do I need an attorney on a misdemeanor case in Raleigh, North Carolina?

While some defendants chose to represent themselves on minor traffic offenses and low-level misdemeanors, defendants with attorneys receive multiple benefits. First, an experienced criminal defense attorney like Chris provides his clients with legal advice. There often are a variety of important decisions that defendants must make during the course of a case, and having an attorney who knows the law and understands the situation in the courtroom will help defendants make the right calls on how to proceed. The two most important decisions that clients have to make are whether to take their case to trial and whether to accept the plea offer from the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. Chris knows when to try cases and when to negotiate, and this experience can prove invaluable in obtaining the best possible outcome in a case.

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