Homicide - What to Do When You or a Loved one is Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges - Part 7
Have you or someone you care about been charged with murder, manslaughter, or another homicide-related offense? If so, you're in the right place.
North Carolina Attorney Bill Powers has been representing clients charged with murder and other homicide-related offenses his entire career. In this episode, Attorney Powers answers the questions that matter to you when you when you or a loved one is facing a murder or homicide offense.
But as you can, invoke your right to have counsel, legal counsel. It is one of the fundamental rights, and the reason it is is it's so important to have someone on your side defending you who has the skillset and experience hopefully as equal to that of the people that are prosecuting you.
Robert Ingalls: Now, one last question that just kind of popped into my head. You said how when they talk to their family members, sometimes that comes back to bite them later. Let's say that they need to talk to you. If they make a phone call to you, is that something that they need to be concerned about what they're saying over the phone?
Bill Powers: Well, actually yes. In fact, they don't turn off the recording devices. And I think sometimes people confuse or conflict this with Miranda Rights. That doesn't mean they don't get the evidence. It may not be admissible in court, and there's a difference. Don't conflate that. If I'm talking at the jail I will say, "This conversation is protected. I do not consent to the conversation to be recorded. I ask that recording devices be turned off." And I feel certain that they ignore that, okay.
So I am very, very, very careful about what I say on any type of telephone, and even in jail when I speak to people. I don't even like talking on the phones with the cords. If I can talk through the glass I will attempt to do that without hopefully being heard. But even if it can't be used in court it may be used for some other purpose. If nothing else, why would we want to kind of show our defense in a particular case, or anything of that nature?
That's also why I think it's so important that people are not in jail in the first place, because it makes it very, very, very difficult as you might imagine, to review discovery, to talk about potential witnesses, and evidence, to go to the scene, when your client is sitting in jail. We do all those things anyway, but it would sure be nice if you had the client sitting next to you going, "Nah, no they said this in this report, but this is actually where I was standing. That's not possible it happened that particular way." There's no substitute on these cases.
I can't think of a murder case that I've done in the last decade where I haven't gone out to see not just once, but time, and time, and time again. I just handled on recently where it was out, well, in the southeast part of town. It's close to where I live, and I drive by all the time, and every time I drive by I think about it, and I think about, you're looking at the pictures and the science of the thing. But it's really important to not speak with any, even family members, even your lawyer if you can. I'd prefer speaking to you on the other side of the wall in my office, helping prepare a defense.
Robert Ingalls: Alright, well those are my questions. Do you have any last words on this?
Bill Powers: Well, I appreciate people's patience listening to what most certainly is probably a somewhat disturbing topic. I'm always willing to sit down and talk with people. That's something that lawyers, we do, especially on the DWI related incidences where we go to schools, workplaces, church, where we help educate people. Whereas heat of passion murders, by their very nature, homicides, there's not a whole lot of preventative aspect of it, in DWI there is.
In DWI I can explain why, and I've done this, I've done it for some of the local schools for many years now where it's not a good idea to have the house party where your parent's serving the alcohol and something bad happens, or you're the person driving around and something bad happens. If we can help educate, if we can help explain the system, if we can help explain the law, or the laws, or the consequences, we're more than willing.
We have PowerPoint, will travel. And I do thank you for addressing this issue. I'm not aware of many podcasts nationwide, let alone locally, that do stuff like this. This is kind of raw. I've never done one myself, that I can think of either, so I thank you for doing this with me.
Robert Ingalls: Absolutely. I mean, I know it's an important issue. I, not to make this too long, but you know I went through law school.
Bill Powers: Right.
Robert Ingalls: I worked with The Innocence Project during law school. I saw a lot of this stuff first hand, so it's certainly close to me.
Bill Powers: It changes you.
Robert Ingalls: Yeah.
Bill Powers: I think what really surprises many people is the person he helped set up that program, the chief justice, these aren't pro-defense necessarily type of people. This is a system wide problem that we need to get our handle on. One, we don't want to commit the wrong person. Second, we want to make sure we get the right person. I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing that, 'cause that will change you, the actual Innocence Project where you see innocent people are being convicted.
Robert Ingalls: Yeah, I met Ronald Cotton. He came and spoke to us. I met Dwayne Dale. One thing that he said stuck with me is he said, "The day I had court the only thing I cared about is I look good for the cameras, 'cause I knew I was going home." He didn't go home for another 18 years.
Bill Powers: We've seen cases in North Carolina time and again where the prosecutors have joined the motions saying please set aside this verdict. We got it wrong. The person we talked to turned out to be a liar, or had psychological problems. There was one of those at Raleigh. We had a three judge panel reverse the case.
Robert Ingalls: Yeah.
Bill Powers: It's an important topic. It's not something that is really fun to talk about on a podcast, not a whole lot of joking around, but I think it's one that hopefully people can learn from.
Robert Ingalls: Alright, well thanks Bill. I appreciate your time.
Bill Powers: Thanks, brother.
Robert Ingalls: Alright.
Bill Powers: Bye bye.
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Every situation is unique, therefore you should always consult with a licensed attorney before making any legal decisions. Thanks for listening.