What happens if I go to court by myself?
Carolina criminal defense law firm Powers Law Firm PA is here to answer your questions about criminal charges and legal representation.
Question 1: Can I get my case continued? What is a continuance? What happens if I have criminal charges and show up to court by myself? Can my criminal case be moved if I need a lawyer?
Hi, there. I’m Bill Powers. I’m an attorney who helps people with allegations of criminal charges in North Carolina. Our law firm serves as legal counsel in Domestic Violence cases, including things like civil court restraining orders, 50B Domestic Violence Protective Order, and related criminal court charges involving Assault on a Female, communicating threats, injury to personal property, simple assault, and other misdemeanor or felony charges.
Our Carolina criminal defense law firm also handles traffic tickets, DWI charges in North Carolina, DUI in South Carolina, and Family Law issues. We’re available for consultation for civil court or criminal court cases in the Charlotte-Metro region and upstate South Carolina.
Chris Beddow is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Rock Hill SC, licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Bill Powers is licensed in North Carolina and therefore limits his legal representation and attorney-client relationship to matters in the Pine State (North Carolina).
If you have specific questions, if you want to know what to do in your specific case or a case of someone you care about, a family member, a loved one, call a lawyer. The defense attorneys at our law firm offer a FREE CASE EVALUATION and confidential consultation for criminal charges. It doesn’t matter if they’re felony or misdemeanor charges, after completing a conflicts check we’re more than willing to sit down with and answer the many questions you may have about your criminal charges and how the court system works.
Can I represent myself with criminal charges? Can I get a continuance to hire a lawyer? What does “Pro Se” mean?
Can I ask for a continuation? Can I get a continuance in for a criminal charge? Can I represent myself for criminal charges Charlotte NC? In North Carolina, you have the option to serve as your own attorney. You may hear the term pro se in court, which translated from Latin means “for himself.” If you go to criminal court by yourself, the ADA (assistant district attorney) may tell the Judge, “They wish to proceed pro se and need to sign a waiver.”
The “waiver” in that instance would be the Waiver of Appointment of legal counsel (criminal defense attorney) to assist in the defense of your matter. It is important to note, the appointment of counsel does not happen in every instance. If you’ve been arrested and charged with criminal offenses, the Court normally makes an inquiry into whether the person is entitled to an appointed lawyer.
There are a few important points to understand:
- In order to be “Appointed Legal Counsel,” there must be a determination of indigency. In simple terms, the Judge decides whether you are legally indigent.
- “Not being able to afford” a lawyer is not necessarily the same as indigent. Sample Affidavit of Indigency
- The Court is required to determine whether the criminal charges are eligible for appointment of legal counsel. Put simply, the Court determines whether there is a likelihood if convicted of criminal charges of jail time.
- There are some types of criminal charges in North Carolina that under the sentencing guidelines, are not likely to result in a jail sentence. As such, the Court may not appoint a criminal defense lawyer to help.
- Appointed lawyers and public defenders are not free. If convicted or plead guilty to criminal charges, you will be required to reimburse North Carolina for the costs of the attorney.
Seeking a continuation, a continuance, and the likelihood of it being granted depends a lot on the local court customs and practices. It also depends on how old the case is, where it is in the process of disposition, and whether the issue of legal counsel for criminal charges has already been addressed. Some jurisdictions are easier, frankly, to work with than others.
There are some jurisdictions that are not as generous with the continuance than others, and maybe they’re smaller, maybe they’re larger. Generally speaking, the court systems want to get through cases as quickly as possible. That’s true for legal matters in civil court or criminal court, felony or misdemeanor charges, Family Court, and domestic violence charges. Put simply, the court system is busy. Judges, prosecutors, and Carolina defense lawyers all work to be as efficient as possible in the administration of justice. Appointment of counsel and the determination of whether an attorney-client relationship exists is often an important first step in our criminal court system.
They don’t want things languishing either for the state, the state’s witnesses, and the victims in the cases, nor do they want languishing from a defense side where as a defense lawyer we’re worried about the anxiety, the pressure, the worry of what it means to have a criminal matter looming over you, pending.
I know sometimes people think defense lawyers want to stall or put cases off, and I’d say I’m sure there are instances of that, just like maybe sometimes that’s true on the other side, but generally speaking, we would rather … Especially if the matter’s going to trial, we know matter’s going to trial, we want to get it to trial.
We’ve prepared a matter, and once we’ve had ample opportunity to prepare the matter, to issue our subpoenas or get our witnesses together, we want to move forward. We don’t want it languishing either.
There are times we need witnesses there and we don’t want them to disappear, but can you get a continuance because you’re unable to find a lawyer?
Sometimes, yes, if it’s pretty early on in the process.
Question 2: With criminal charges what is “Admin Court?” Will there be a criminal trial in Courtroom 1130 in Mecklenburg County?
Here in Charlotte, we have an administrative court for most matters. That may be true for criminal charges in other jurisdictions in North Carolina. For example, speeding tickets and other traffic citations in Iredell County (Statesville NC) are often handled in the administrative traffic court in the Iredell Court Annex Building, instead of in the “Hall of Justice” where criminal trials, both misdemeanor or felony charges are handled in District Court and Superior Court.
If it were a DWI case, normally you would expect it to be in courtroom 1150. Excuse me, 1130. There are exceptions.
I’ll just use a courtroom. If it was in courtroom 1150 and it was a DWI tied with some other felony, the matter may or may not be necessarily put off for disposition, but maybe put off for a probable cause hearing or indictment by the grand jury.
If it’s a basic misdemeanor type of case and it’s the first time on and you can’t afford a lawyer, maybe that’s the opportunity, the first chance you’ve had really to fill out an affidavit of indigency saying that you don’t have the financial resources to retain legal counsel, that you otherwise quality for the appointment of counsel, and that the offense is such that the judge is authorized and allowed to appoint you a legal counsel.
For the record, you just don’t automatically get a lawyer in every case for every type of offense.
If you have a stop sign violation and you’re not really having any realistic chance of going to jail, you’re probably not gonna get appointed a lawyer, but if you’re having trouble securing a lawyer, you haven’t had time, you haven’t been able to get the money together and you go to court, you may be able to ask for additional time.
Question 3: When should I ask for a continuance for my criminal charges in Charlotte NC? Do I need legal representation? Does it matter felony vs. misdemeanor?
If you wait till the last minute and month after month after month it’s gone by and you’ve been to court numerous different times, numerous meaning two, three, four different times, and keep asking for more dates, there may be a point where the DA and the judge say, “No, not agreeing to anymore dates.”
For the record, I actually have a blog post on this. We have a lot of material online, so I encourage you to look at our blog.
If you want to Google it, put in Bill Powers, “How is court scheduled in North Carolina?”
I think a lot of people assume that the court system is the same as the rest of the world, that the court the system’s there, it seems like some people think it’s for their convenience and they don’t understand why they just won’t move a court date because you’ve got a business meeting.
That’s not how court works. Criminal court is not always fair. Court is sometimes hard. Sometimes the court is saying no, and sometimes the court is punishing people.
All right? Let’s just be realistic here. It’s not necessarily there to be helpful to you or for your convenience, so that is not to say there’s any nefarious purpose or mean-spirited people or anything like that.
Question 4: Does it help to have a defense lawyer for criminal charges in Charlotte, North Carolina? How do law firms help with DUI-DWI cases? Are felonies and misdemeanors different or are they handled the same in criminal court in Mecklenburg County?
In our society, in more than two decades of practicing law, I’ve seen a real transition where people aren’t willing to really, I guess, accept the fact that they aren’t in control, necessarily, always of their own destiny, and that the very harsh, cold realities of criminal court can be very harsh, real, and cold.
It helps to have a lawyer.
It helps to have someone standing next to you explaining how the system works, why the system works, and I tell people, “I’m telling you how the system works, not necessarily how I think it should work,” but either way, most lawyers, especially in criminal defense, will offer a free, confidential consultation. In this particular inquiry, one would suspect it may be a financial issue or something else going on.
Even if we can’t help you, most lawyers will tell you how to ask for an appointment of counsel, what materials you may or may not need to fill out, and whether or not we think you’d be approved for appointed counsel, depending on the type of charge.
Good inquiry, a common inquiry. I think despite people saying the economy is doing good, it can be an expensive process going to court, not necessarily just with the lawyer, but heck, our court cost and fines in North Carolina are through the roof. Not defending it. Don’t like it. It’s just the reality.
A speeding ticket in North Carolina can cost you a couple hundred bucks just in fines and cost, but we’re here to help.
Question 5: What does it cost to retain the legal services of the criminal defense law firm? Is there any way to get some free advice without committing to hiring a lawyer?
Yes, our Charlotte NC criminal defense law firm offers free consultations. We prefer to sit down with you and explain your options when it comes to criminal charges. Everything you tell us is strictly confidential. It doesn’t get much better than that: FREE LEGAL ADVICE. We don’t send you an invoice or bill for legal representation unless you tell us you want to retain our legal services.
Clients often have a lot of questions like:
- How do the criminal courts work in Charlotte NC?
- How long does it take to get my criminal case to trial?
- What do criminal defense lawyers do to help?
- Will my criminal charges be continued more than once before trial?
- Is there a jury trial for misdemeanor charges?
- What’s the difference in felony vs. misdemeanor?
- Are there options other than a guilty plea for criminal charges?
- Are cases handled differently in:
- Charlotte in Mecklenburg County in Courtroom 1130 / 1150
- Monroe District criminal court in Union County
- Mooresville in Iredell County?
- What is the difference in Iredell County between Statesville and Mooresville NC?
The criminal defense lawyers at Powers Law Firm PA help people throughout North Carolina. We are available for consultation to answer these and any other legal questions you may have about your criminal charges.
Call NOW for your FREE CASE EVALUATION: (704)-342-4357