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Probable Cause Hearings in North Carolina

Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyers

At the Powers Law Firm PA, we understand that being charged with a crime can be a very scary and nerve-wracking situation. You may not know where to turn or understand what is going to happen with criminal charges.

Our defense lawyers have substantial experience handling criminal matters in North Carolina and are eager and willing to help and guide you during this difficult time in your life.

Can I Request a Probable Cause Hearing Prior to Trial?

Under North Carolina criminal law, defendants who are charged with a felony or whose crime falls under the jurisdiction of the superior court are statutorily granted the right to request a probable cause hearing.

In NC, you may serve as your own attorney. However, there are strict time frames that you must adhere to or your right to a probable cause hearing can be lost.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal law attorney who can request and prepare for a probable cause hearing on your behalf.

What is Probable Cause in NC?

Probable cause means that the circumstances and evidence would lead a prudent and cautious person to believe that the events described are probably true. Probable cause is not the same a Reasonable Suspicion or Reasonable Doubt.

Defense attorneys may also refer to it as “Reasonable Grounds.” The standard is more akin to the preponderance of the evidence (i.e., greater than 50%).

Burdens of Proof in North Carolina

What is a Probable Cause Hearing? Man arrested, Criminal Defense Lawyers Charlotte NC

Under North Carolina law, a person charged by a criminal warrant with a felony case is entitled to have a probable cause hearing within 15 working days of the first appearance date. The probable cause hearing takes place in the District Courts of North Carolina.

A probable cause hearing is where the State (prosecutor) must present evidence to establish probable cause that the offense charged has been committed and probable cause to believe the defendant is the one who committed the charged offense. For an exhaustive description of probable cause hearings and the requirements under North Carolina law click here.

The probable cause hearing provides the defense an opportunity to determine what evidence the State may and/or will use in its prosecution of the defendant. Therefore, a probable cause hearing can be very beneficial in developing a strategy for challenging the prosecution’s case in subsequent court appearances.

In very rare instances, the State may produce no evidence at the probable cause hearing and the case will be dismissed.

What Happens if the Judge Determines There is Probable Cause?

Once a judge determines that sufficient probable cause exists, the case is transferred to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. At this stage, a grand jury proceeding takes place where a group of no less than 12 and no more than 18 or more individuals hear evidence from the State. The grand jury is a secret proceeding and neither the defense lawyer nor the defendant present evidence at the proceeding.

If at least twelve individuals of the grand jury find that there is probable cause to believe the charged crime has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime, the grand jury will issue a true bill of indictment. A true bill of indictment means that the crime for which the defendant is charged can be formally brought in Superior Court.

If the grand jury does not find probable cause, the grand jury will return the indictment as not being a true bill of indictment.

It is important to remember that the grand jury’s responsibility is not to find whether the defendant is guilty or innocent of the charged crime. The jury in a criminal trial is responsible for determining whether the defendant is guilty or innocent of the crime for which he or she is charged.

Call Now for a Free Case Evaluation

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in North Carolina, the attorneys at our Charlotte law office provide a free consultation. We understand when it is necessary to request a probable cause hearing and can adequately prepare you for this initial proceeding of the criminal process.

The Powers Law Firm, PA
2412 Arty Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28208
Charlotte, NC Office

*By Appointment Only
Attorney Bill Powers is licensed in NC and only handles North Carolina criminal charges. Attorney Chris Beddow is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina and handles DWI charges, DUI charges, and criminal defense matters in both states.

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Client Reviews
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately... J.R.
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Lisa
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.