Below are summaries of some client cases effectively handled by our attorneys in North Carolina state courts over the last several years, showing the original crimes our clients were accused of and charged with; possible sentences they were threatened with if convicted as charged; what they decided to do; and then how things ultimately turned out for the client. Some of these outcomes were obtained mainly by a defense motion; some by plea agreement or outright dismissal by the state; others by jury trial or a bench trial, and some by a combination of these.
Since the majority of serious criminal cases indicted by grand juries are based on some solid admissible evidence of at least some crime(s) having been committed, they are most often best resolved by some kind of plea agreement "negotiated" between the defendant (through defense counsel) and the state prosecutor. If the prosecutor is confident that he or she will not be required to prepare for and try the case before a jury, then their plea offer may not take into account weaknesses that may exist in the case. We do not assume that any case will result in a guilty plea, but work to find those weaknesses and prepare the case as for trial. We regularly try cases before juries, and also find that this process produces more reasonable plea offers from the state.
The cases below are not representative of the the results in all our cases, but we believe that they show what can be achieved with our aggressive approach. Clients in the cases below that were disposed of by plea, were prepared to go to trial if no acceptable plea offer was made. Similar plea outcomes in other cases have been achieved early in the process due to the prosecution recognizing early on that the evidence against the client did not support the offenses charged. The initials used in the case captions are modified to protect the identities of our clients.
Past performance is no guarantee of future success, nor is it an indication or guarantee of similar outcomes in similar future cases. "Possible " sentences shown in these summaries are the maximum amount of time this client was facing under NC structured sentencing guidelines that the judge could have actually imposed after a guilty verdict, based on the client's prior record level, (without finding aggravators) or would have been required to impose if the client had been found guilty in LWOP or Drug Trafficking cases.
CASES AND OUTCOMES
State v. ER
Charged with : First Degree Burglary (Class D felony) as Habitual Felon. (Class C felony) Assault with a Deadly Weapon w/ Intent to Kill ,(Class E Felony) with Habitual Felon (Class C Felony ), and Destruction of Property (misdemeanor)
Possible sentence: Active prison term of 23.5 years, due to Habitual Felon enhancement.
State's plea offer of was refused by defendant.
Action: Jury trial demanded.
Jury Verdict: Found Guilty of Misdemeanors only : Misdemeanor Assault with a Deadly Weapon ,and Misdemeanor Breaking or Entering. Misdemeanor Injury to Personal Property (All misdemeanors)
Outcome: Sentence: Time Served awaiting trial. 75 days in jail.
State v. WA
Charged with : First Degree Murder (Class A Felony ), Conspiracy, Attempted Robbery With Dangerous Weapon,, Accessory After the Fact to First Degree Murder;
Possible: Life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP)
State's offer: Refused.
Jury trial demanded .
Jury Verdict: Not Guilty of First Degree Murder, Not Guilty of Conspiracy, Not Guilty of Attempted Robbery With Dangerous Weapon; but Guilty of Accessory After the Fact,
Outcome: Judge sentenced on the Accessory after the fact 1st Degree Murder charge in the aggravated range to a minimum of 11.5 years.
State v. DD
Charges: Assault on Female (Class A1 Misdemeanor) , Injury to Property (Class 1 Misdemeanor) Cyber-stalking (Class 2 Misdemeanor) (Found guilty of all in District Court bench trial and appealed to Superior Court)
Possible: 10 months active jail sentence; financial restitution claimed
Jury trial demanded.
Jury Verdict: Not Guilty on all charges.
Results: No resulting firearms restrictions .
State v. CE
Charges: Assault with a Deadly Weapon on Law Enforcement Officer (Class F felony ) and Resisting Public Officer (Class 2 Misdemeanor)
Possible: 26 months in prison. (new status as a convicted felon)
Jury trial demanded.
Jury Verdict: Not Guilty of AWDW of LEO (Class F felony); Guilty of Misdemeanor Resisting Public Officer (Class 2 misdemeanor)
Outcome: Misdemeanor conviction. Judge sentenced client to 45 days in jail -- suspended; placed defendant on 24 months misdemeanor probation w special condition of 10 days in jail. No felony record.
State v. TC
Charges: Felony Cruelty to Animals (Class H felony) x3
Possible: Because defendant had no criminal record (prior record level 1) the maximum sentence without any aggravating factors found would have been 18-34 months in prison. Client would also have become a convicted felon.
Jury trial demanded.
Motion to suppress the defendant’s two (2) confessions granted on the grounds that law enforcement unconstitutionally compelled the defendant’s confessions by offering leniency in exchange for the confession.
Pretrial Motion heard prior to commencing jury trial. If motion had been denied, trial would have commenced. Various testimony and arguments heard by the trial judge in the motion hearing. The defense's motion was granted and the evidence was suppressed by the Court.
Result: With State's evidence suppressed State had no case. State filed an interlocutory appeal, which they lost at the Court of Appeals, then appealed to N.C Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. Trial Court's ruling suppressing the evidence was upheld. State was forced to dismiss the case.
Outcome: No conviction. No felony record.
State v. ES
Charges: First Degree Forcible Sexual Offense, (Class B1 Felony) Assault by Strangulation (Class H felony) Second Degree Kidnapping (Class E Felony) Attempted Second Degree Rape x2 (Class D Felony), AWDW Inflicting Serious Injury (Class E Felony) Communicating Threats x2 , Interfere Emergency Communications. (Misdemeanors)
Possible: Even with a low prior record level of "2" if this defendant could have received a sentence of 30 to 49 years in prison, if convicted of all charges ( without aggravators found). Action: Negotiated plea agreement. Case was ready for trial. Defense investigation turned up factual issues that raised enough questions for the state to have doubts about trying the case.
Outcome: Client pled guilty to one count of Assault by Strangulation (Class H felony) with all other charges being dismissed. This conviction did not require this client to be placed on sex offender registry. Time served awaiting trial. Approx. 6 months.
State v. RD
Charges: Trafficking Opium/Heroin (Class E Felony ) PWIMSD/Sell Sch. II (Class H Felony) Controlled Substance on Jail Premises (Class H Felony), Habitual Felon Indictments x 3, misdemeanor probation violations
Possible: Defendant could have been sentenced to a minimum of 23 .5 years in prison due to the Habitual Felon enhancements and the trafficking charge carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 7.5 years .
Action: Negotiated plea agreement. Defense investigation turned up factual issues that raised enough questions for the state to have doubts about trying the case.
Outcome: Client pled guilty to misdemeanor offenses -- Possession Schedule II, Possess Schedule VI; injury to Property, and Resisting Officer. Served 3 months .
State v. VW
Charges: First Degree Murder
Possible: Life in prison without possibility of Parole
Plea negotiations : Parties agreed to an open plea agreement. This meant that the Client would plead guilty to the lesser offense of Voluntary Manslaughter (Class D Felony), and leave the sentencing up to the judge , after the judge heard the arguments of both sides. This made particular sense here because the defendant had no prior criminal record points. At the sentencing hearing the defense offered expert and other testimony , arguing for a mitigated sentence that was opposed by the state. The lowest minimum sentence possible was 38 months (3 years 2 months) and the highest minimum sentence was 64 months (5 years and 4 months) The state asked the judge to impose the highest sentence. Action: Client pled guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter. Heard on sentencing.
Outcome: Client received a active mitigated sentence of 3.5 years.
State v. RJ
Charges: First Degree Murder (Class A Felony) , Possession of Weapon of Mass Destruction (Class F Felony); Possession of Firearm by a Felon (Class G Felony)
Possible: Life in Prison Without possibility of Parole
Action: Negotiated plea agreement
Outcome: Client pled guilty pursuant to Alford (no actual admission of guilt) to Involuntary Manslaughter (Class F Felony) and Possession of Firearm by a Felon (Class G) receiving an active sentence of 3.5 years, mostly already served awaiting trial.
State v. CR
Charges: Maiming without Malice (Class E Felony ) Habitual Felon (Class C Felony )
Possible: Due to Habitual Felon status, if found guilty, active prison term of 10 years possible, with no finding of aggravators by the judge.
Action : Negotiated Plea agreement.
Result: Client pled guilty to misdemeanor Assault Inflicting Serious Injury and received an active sentence of two days.
State v. KJ
Charges: Felony Sex offender on Premises (Class H Felony) with Habitual Felon (Class D Felony) Obtain Property False Pretense (Class H Felony) with Habitual Felon (Class D Felony) Felony B&E H Larceny after B&E (Class H) Safecracking (Class I).
Possible: Under Habitual Felon enhancement -- if convicted, client could have been sentenced to Class D Felony rather than Class H for each of those four offenses, and to a Class E Felony rather than the Class I. The apparent risk of even a single conviction of just one of the Class H offenses would have subjected the defendant to a 6 year active prison sentence (without aggravation). So client's likely apparent risk was was between 12 and 24 years active prison as the parties approached plea negotiations. Without the Habitual Felon enhancement, defendant could still have been sentenced to 52-81 months active prison time if convicted on all counts and sentences run consecutively .
Action: Defense motion was prepared showing out of state felony used to establish Habitual Felon status was not "substantially similar" to any NC felony.
Result: Habitual Felon indictment dismissed by the state. Plea Negotiation resulted in one active 11-23 month prison sentence.
Outcome: Elimination of Habitual felon status reduced client's apparent potential sentence on a single offense by 5 years. Active sentence agreed to was for one class H felony at record level IV -- active sentence 11-23 months.
State v. TW
Charges: Attempted First Degree Murder, (Class B2 Felony) Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill (Class E Felony), (x3) Assault by Pointing a Gun (Class A1 Misdemeanor) (x2) Going Armed to the Terror of the People (Class A1 Misdemeanor)and Communicating Threats (Class 1 Misdemeanor) (x2)
Possible: 16 years minimum active prison sentence with no aggravators found .
Action: Plea negotiation
Outcome: Client pled to eight (8) misdemeanors and received a 10 month active sentence for which he had time served while awaiting trial.
State v. KJ
Charges: First Degree Kidnapping (Class C Felony), Second Degree Attempted Rape (Class D Felony), Sexual Battery (Class A1 Misdemeanor), Assault on a Female (Class A1 Misdemeanor), and Habitual Felon (Class C Felony )
Possible: If convicted of the Kidnapping and the attempted rape , and sentenced with no aggravators found, defendant could have been sentenced to 166 to 224 months ( 13.8 to 18.5 years) in prison.
Action: Plea negotiations:
Results: Client pled guilty under Alford (no admission of guilt) to the misdemeanor of Assault on a Female. All other charges were dismissed. Sentenced to 150 days in jail.
State v. JR
Charges: Indecent Liberties (x 2 children) (Class f Felony)
Possible : Active prison sentence of 38 to 55 months, without aggravation by judge at
sentencing. Required to register as a sex offender. Harm to reputation, work, etc.
Investigation: Based upon the substance of the factual allegations, we had no trouble believing that the client was being falsely accused. After obtaining court orders allowing us access to normally sealed records, we eventually discovered evidence that the allegations had been fabricated by a family member for leverage in an attempt to get custody through social services, and that what had been referred to as an expert opinion in the records, was a fabrication.
Action: Negotiations with prosecutor consisted only of our demand that the charges be dismissed or a trial be had. Results: Charges Dismissed by the state.
Outcome: After many many months of refusing any plea and demanding trial or dismissal because the defense could demonstrate this falsehood at trial, the prosecutor finally dismissed the charges.
State v. JG
Charges: Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Injury (Class C felony) and Conspiracy AWDWIKISI (Class D).
Possible outcome: Active prison term 137 to 183 months (11 to 15 years )
Jury trial demanded
Verdict : Jury found client guilty of misdemeanor Assault Inflicting Serious Injury
Outcome: Sentenced 120 days in jail. No felony record.
State v. TC
Charges: Conspiracy to Obtain Property by False Pretenses (Felony) (14 counts)
Possible: Sentence of 20 months in prison would have been suspended and placed on probation due to client having no criminal record.
Jury trial demanded.
Verdict : Jury found client Not Guilty on all charges.
Result: No conviction. No felony record.
State v CC
Charges: Trafficking Opium (by Transportation) a Class E felony w $100k fine ; Trafficking Opium (by Possession) a Class E felony w $100k fine; PWIMSD (Possess with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver) Schedule I C.S. ( Controlled substance) Class H felony; PWIMSD Schedule II Class H felony C.S.; PWIMSD Schedule III ClassI felony C.S.; PWIMSD Schedule IV C.S. Class I felony ; Felony Larceny, a ClassH felony and Felony Possession of Stolen Goods, a class H felony.;
Possible: If found guilty at of just one Level 2 Trafficking Opium client would have been sentenced to exactly 90 to 117 months active prison time, and fined $100k. If also found guilty, the four class H felonies could have added another 10-12 months each, and the two Class I s another 6-8 months each which could have added a minimum of 52 more months, so he possibly faced a sentence of 142 to 189 months (11.8 to 15.7 years). Plea negotiations: After 9 months the state's offer was Plead to Trafficking and do 90 to 117 months in prison , and the other charges would be dropped. This would have required a minimum active prison sentence of 7.5 years. After the case was about a year old and defense was prepared for trial,a plea agreement was achieved.
Outcome: Defendant pled guilty to three class H felonies (10-12 month sentences), to run consecutively, and one class I felony (6-8 months) to run concurrently; and the trafficking charges, and some other minor charges were dismissed.
Client served 30 months active prison time on these charges.
State v NJ
Charged: Second Degree Exploitation of a Minor (x3) (Class E Felonies)
Possible: At record level 1 (client had no prior record) client could have been sentenced to a minimum of 6.25 years to a maximum of 8.5 years in prison with no aggravators alleged. Conviction would have required Sex Offender registration.
Action: Plea negotiation.
Outcome: Client pled to one count of Attempted Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors (Class 1 Misdemeanor ) and was sentenced to probation . No offender registry required.
State v WM
Charged: Assault on a Female (Class A1 Misdemeanor) x2 Communicating Threats (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
Possible: 120 days in jail.
Action: Bench trial in district court.
Outcome: Not Guilty on all charges.
State v OR
Charged: Driving While Impaired (Class 1 misdemeanor) with unique sentencing and long reaching effects
Possible: License revocation; jail time, fines , fees , Increased insurance premiums;
Action: Bench trial in district court; Motion to Dismiss based on violation of constitutional rights -- probation officer's status as a private citizen making the stop -- motion denied by judge. Found guilty in District Court.
Appealed to Superior Court.
Outcome: Dismissed. Motion to Dismiss heard in Superior Court granted by Judge. State appealed, but appeal was later withdrawn.
State v ND
Charges: Trafficking Opium or Heroin (Class C Felony) Conspiracy to Traffic Opium or Heroin (Class C felony) PWIMSD Schedule IV CS, PWIMSD Schedule IV CS, PWIMSD Schedule VI C.S. (Class H felony) , M/S/D/P Controlled Substance within 1000 feet of a School (Class felony) (x 5) ; M/S/D/P Controlled Substance within 1000 feet of a Child Care Center (x 5); PWIMSD Cocaine Class H felony); PWIMSD Counterfeit Controlled Substance (Class H) ; Conspiracy to Sell Cocaine (Class G).
Possible: 35+ years active prison sentence.
Action: Motion to Suppress Search Warrant was filed by defense. Prior to hearing on motion, state offered a plea with no active sentence.
Plea negation: Client pled Guilty to Maintaining a Vehicle/Dwelling /Place (Class I felony) Outcome: Client was placed on probation.
State v DW
Charges: Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury (Class F felony) ; Habitual Felon (Class C felony)
Possible: Active prison sentence of 8 years due to Habitual Felon status.
Plea offer: (Client had been appointed counsel) Best plea offer was 3.5 years active prison sentence -- no probation offered; Case was on the trial calendar short list, being called for trial or plea. Client's counsel had advised him to take the plea offer and do the time. Client fired his counsel and was representing himself and headed to trial.
Action: Client sought new legal counsel, and case was accepted by our attorney. Attorney obtained and reviewed alleged victim's medical records, then consulted with a medical specialist, which revealed that alleged victim's injury did not actually rise to the level required for a conviction on the Class F felony assault (triggering the Habitual Felon), and would only support a misdemeanor conviction. This information was shared with the prosecutor, who agreed with the medical conclusion (changing offense to a misdemeanor), but still believed that the client had committed the assault causing injury to the victim, based on the victim's account.
Since a jury trial could result in a guilty verdict on the misdemeanor, and if so, it seemed likely that the trial judge, then responding to the jury, would be more likely to impose at least some portion of the maximum five month active jail sentence, it was determined that an open guilty plea on the misdemeanor assault would allow both sides to be heard by the judge on sentencing, and increase the likelihood of a suspended sentence .
Plea Negotiation: Client agreed to plead guilty to Assault Inflicting Serious Injury (Class A1 misdemeanor). Both sides to be heard on sentencing.
Sentencing Arguments: State argued for active jail time -- alleged victim testified; and Defense argued for probation, offering proof through cross-examination and other witness statements that alleged victim had goaded defendant, and that victim not been seriously hurt as alleged.
Outcome: Client pled guilty to the misdemeanor and was placed on probation.
* This is a new website as of November 2022. The cases listed here are some that we have recalled as being examples of the results that the application of our version of aggressive criminal defense can produce. We plan to continue to look through our closed files and add to this list as we have opportunity.
There are some records and consequences produced through actions of the courts and the DMV, that may affect your life for many years to come, which you may be unaware. Legal -counsel regarding these matters may result in you seeing a need to take immediate actions that may be in your best interests.
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