Criminal Defense Trials in North Carolina
What You Can Expect When You Go to Trial
Most people understand that in North Carolina, as well as the rest of the U.S., everyone who is accused of a crime has the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. What many people don’t know is that if you are charged with a misdemeanor or traffic offense, you will first find yourself in trial by a single judge, not a jury.
In NC, not only are misdemeanor trials in front of a judge alone, they are also not recorded. That means that there is no court reporter taking down everything that is said. Instead of having a recorded jury trial for every case, if convicted there is an absolute right to appeal to a completely new trial. New trials can be thought of as “do overs”.
District Court Trials
The first trial for a misdemeanor is in District Court, North Carolina’s lower level trial court. Cases that are tried in District Court are in front of a District Court judge. If you lose in District Court you can appeal it to Superior Court for a trial by jury.
Superior Court Trials
Superior Court trials are presided over by judges whose job it is to function as gatekeeper of what evidence a jury gets to hear as well as referee between the parties. In Superior Court, the jury gets to make the decision whether to find a defendant guilty, not guilty or guilty of some lesser offense. Jury trials are recorded and appeals from Superior Court are made to either the NC Court of Appeals or the NC Supreme Court.
District Courts vs Superior Courts
It is considerably easier for a defense lawyer to prepare for a trial in District Court in front of a judge than it is to prepare for a jury trial in Superior Court. Jury trials also generally take days as opposed to bench trials, or trials in front of a judge, which typically take a few hours. As a result of this difference in time that is required, it is much less expensive to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you in District Court than it is to hire that same lawyer in Superior Court.
Contact Our North Carolina Criminal Trial Attorneys
At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we have a tremendous amount of trial experience in both District and Superior Court. We have been trying cases in the Wake County Courthouse in downtown Raleigh since 1998. Our experienced criminal justice lawyers have over four decades of trial experience combined. If you are facing criminal charges, we can help. Call us today at (919) 832-7700.
Our criminal lawyers help people throughout Wake County, North Carolina. We frequently handle offenses arising out of the following cities: Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Wendell, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Zebulon, Knightdale, Garner, Cary, New Hope, Rolesville and Raleigh.