Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer

Home /  Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer

Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney


A criminal conviction in state or federal court can mean serious consequences. Years in jail, substantial fines, a permanent record as a felon, irreparable damage to your reputation, strict conditions of probation — you name it. However, you do not have to plead without advice. You have rights.

From arraignment to appeals, trials to expungements, our skilled Charlotte criminal defense lawyers are here to help you navigate the entire process, protect your future, and help you thrive and succeed.

Best Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Does A Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?

A criminal defense lawyer can help in a variety of different ways, from before you’re even arrested to the trial to the appeals process if necessary. Everything, though, that a lawyer does on your behalf is focused on protecting your rights and making sure that you get fair treatment.

From the position of being investigated, accused, or the defendant in a trial, it can feel like you have anything but a fair shot and defending yourself. You are often a lone individual standing opposite the entire governmental justice system.

You don’t have to despair, though, in the face of what seems like insurmountable odds. You have a number of legally explicit rights that ensure that you are given a chance at defending yourself and avoiding a guilty verdict. It’s the job of your lawyer to understand every one of those rights and see that they are respected.

Defend Your Rights

Most people may not initially recognize the importance of their rights being protected during the investigation part of the criminal process in Charlotte, NC. However, even before an arrest, there are rights that you have, so long as you don’t waive them. You have the right to avoid self-incrimination and to remain silent. You also have rights against warrantless searches and other unjustified measures.

Therefore, it’s critical that you contact our offices if you find out that you are being investigated for a crime. We can help you understand the rights that you have and how to exercise them. In addition to that, the sooner we understand and are aware of your situation, the sooner we can begin thinking about crafting a defense. For instance, we can help ensure that you don’t accidentally discard any evidence that may be helpful for your defense in a trial.

If you are arrested, then it’s critical that you have a lawyer with you as soon as possible. They can help ensure that your rights are protected and you don’t say something that could later be used against you in court. Knowing that you have been arrested can also allow us to begin or continue our investigation into the situation.

Investigate Your Case

Speaking of the investigation, this is one of the most important things that your criminal defense lawyer can do on your behalf. It’s their job to take a look at all aspects of your case and understand what can be used for a defense.

Each case is unique, so exactly how they investigate your situation will depend upon the nature of the accusation. A homicide case is going to be investigated very differently than accusations of a “white collar” crime of some sort. Some of the things they might do in the course of the investigation include:

  • Looking at the police report
  • Subpoenaing documents and information relevant to the case (including things like security camera footage, cell phone records, and other digital data)
  • Fact-gathering
  • Interview potential witnesses (eyewitnesses or expert witnesses, depending on the situation)
  • Anything else that is necessary for building a defense

Build a Defense

Your lawyer is responsible for putting together a defense that can be used in a criminal trial. They may start formulating some ideas about how to do this even while they are still heavily involved in their investigation efforts.

An important part of the preparation of a defensive strategy is considering the approach that the prosecution will take. Your lawyer needs to consider how the prosecutor might argue the case. This can allow them to prepare ways to question the validity of the prosecution’s evidence and testimony, when appropriate, as well as demonstrate the holes in their narrative.

A strong defense isn’t just reactive, though, and your lawyer may also prepare a proactive defensive argument. This can take a number of different forms, from arguing your innocence by using things like an alibi and counter-evidence to arguing a justification for the act, such as self-defense, where appropriate. Preparing this can involve further investigation, including studying relevant case law.

Trial-Tested Defense Strategies

An experienced defense attorney can craft the ideal defense for your case. Your defense attorney must presume that you are innocent of your charges and work to make that case to the criminal court. This is a Charlotte criminal defense lawyer’s job, and they may use a different strategy depending on the evidence and circumstances of your case. Example defense strategies include:

  • Claim No Crime Was Committed: This defense can work in many ways depending on the case. While some strategies may argue that the victim’s claim is entirely false or untrue, other defenses may aim to prove that the victim exaggerated the crime and that the charges are incorrect.
  • The Defendant Did Not Commit the Crime: Arguing that the defendant did not do it is a common defense. Sometimes, this defense rests on proving the defendant’s alibi by witness statement or evidence the prosecution cannot guarantee is false.
  • Self-Defense: The self-defense strategy typically accompanies violent charges. The defendant admits that they used violence but claims the victim threatened or performed violent actions towards them first, which justified their response.

Represent You Throughout Your Case

Your lawyer can act as your representative in all phases of the judicial process. This could mean helping negotiate a plea bargain if that seems like the most prudent choice, and it could mean arguing on your behalf through a trial, sentencing, and appeals as necessary.

At every phase, their job is to ensure that you are afforded every right and protection due to you. Only by working with the right criminal defense lawyer can you be confident that you are being defended by every means possible.

Criminal Consequences

People don’t want to live in areas where criminal activity regularly occurs. For this reason, being “hard on crime” is never really a losing issue for politicians. “Tough on crime” legislation means that there are significant penalties for criminal activity, which are thought to act as a deterrent for criminal behavior.

Felonies, of course, carry the harshest penalties, but even misdemeanors can have significant repercussions. Some of the potential penalties in criminal cases include:

  • Fines – Most misdemeanors and felonies include fines in the sentencing guidelines. The more significant the crime, the greater the fines that are attached.
  • Probation – In some cases, probation may be given as an alternative to a jail sentence. In others, it may follow up prison time. When sentenced, a list of restrictions will be given, and the convicted will be expected to adhere to these restrictions during their period of probation. They may also be required to regularly check in with a probation officer.
  • Prison or Jail Time – For more serious crimes and repeat offenses, there is often the inclusion of some jail or prison time. It could be as little as a few days, but it could be years or even life in prison.
  • Mandatory Drug or Alcohol Programs – Particularly if the crime involved alcohol or some kind of substance abuse, such as in the case of a DUI, the court may require assessments, education, and treatment.
  • Loss of Driving Privileges – This is most common in the case of a DUI, but you may have a license suspended or revoked.
  • Loss of Right to Own a Firearm – You may have your right to own a firearm revoked, particularly if you are convicted of a violent crime.

Not all the consequences of a criminal conviction are limited to the legal realm. There are extralegal consequences as well. There are social, career, financial, and educational costs that, while not legally regulated, are a reality of a criminal conviction and the criminal record that comes along with it. Some of these costs include:

  • Challenges in Finding Employment – Almost every job includes a background check, and a criminal record will appear on it. This can lead many employers to not hire someone they might otherwise have considered.
  • College Admission Difficulties – Another entity that will perform a background check is a university. If you want to take college classes, it can be difficult to get accepted with a criminal conviction.
  • Student Loan Disqualification – For many student loan programs, a criminal conviction can be an automatic disqualification. This means that, even if you are accepted, finding the requisite funding can be a challenge.
  • Professional License Challenges – For some professional licenses, there is an automatic disqualification for those with a criminal background. For many others, a criminal conviction might not be an automatic rejection, but it can make it significantly less likely that you get accepted.
  • Reputational Damage – A criminal conviction can do tremendous damage to a person’s social and familial life. Those with a criminal conviction can often be treated differently in social settings. This is true even when the convicted has completed the entirety of their penalties and reformed. In some cases, even a person’s family may treat them very differently because of a criminal conviction.

Statute of Limitations

It’s important to understand the statute of limitations rules in North Carolina, as they are some of the friendliest to prosecutors in the country. In most states, crimes come with a statute of limitations, which limits how much time can pass from when a crime occurs to when it can be prosecuted.

The idea is that, over time, the likelihood of convicting the correct person lessens. Evidence, for instance, is much less reliable with the passage of time. Physical evidence can become damaged or degraded, and eyewitness testimony becomes much less reliable as age and other memories crowd out what may have been valuable testimony much nearer to the incident.

Generally, the more significant the crime, the longer the statute of limitations. Few states, though, are as wide open on this as North Carolina. In this state, most misdemeanors must result in charges being brought within two years.

There are some expectations, though. There are certain misdemeanors for which the statute of limitations is pushed out to ten years. These include:

  • Sexual battery
  • Child abuse
  • Indecent liberties between children
  • Failure to report crimes against juveniles
  • Failure to report abuse, neglect, dependency, or death of a child due to maltreatment.

While most states have only a handful of crimes for which there is no statute of limitations, in North Carolina all felonies and even some misdemeanors, classified as “malicious misdemeanors,” have no statute of limitations. This means that it’s important to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in these cases. They know how to identify the ways in which the prosecution’s evidence may be unreliable and expose those flaws.

If You’re Arrested

If you are arrested, those moments can be some of the most important for your eventual trial and defense. It’s not that you can win a case in those moments, but you certainly could lose it. Of course, no one expects that you are going to be able to handle that situation perfectly, as it involves a wide array of emotions and thoughts.

If you can remember three basic principles, though, it can help ensure that you protect yourself from saying or doing something that could hurt your case. The three most important things to remember are:

  • Silent – If you are arrested, one of the things that should occur is that you are told your Miranda rights. This includes your right to remain silent. The most effective thing that you can do is use that right. Police are well-trained to try to get a confession from people they’ve arrested. There are a number of different tactics they may take, and even what could seem like friendly small talk could be an attempt to get you to let your guard down and make a mistake. The surest way to know that you won’t accidentally say something that may be later used against you is to simply say nothing at all.
  • Lawyer – It’s our job, as lawyers, to see that your rights in the criminal judicial process are respected. We can only do that, though, if we are aware of what’s going on. It’s important to contact us at your first opportunity. It is also worth reiterating the importance of not saying anything until your lawyer is present.
  • Calm – If you’re arrested, it’s important that you do everything you can to remain calm and composed through the process. This may not always be easy to do, especially if you’ve never been through something like that before. It’s not uncommon or unreasonable to feel upset, angry, and even embarrassed. However, emotions can lead to us acting without really thinking things through. In a circumstance like an arrest, this could mean doing or saying something that results in additional charges or could be used against you in court.

Defending Against Criminal Charges

Your lawyer is responsible for defending against the charges against you, but it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is still on the prosecution. They are responsible for persuading the judge and the jury that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that the defense, to win the case, will need to create a “reasonable doubt” in the minds of the jury.

In many cases, defensive strategies can be built around this idea. For instance, the presentation of an alibi can create doubt as to whether the defendant could have even been present to commit the crime. Another method is to attack the prosecution’s evidence.

This is particularly relevant in light of North Carolina’s lengthy and sometimes non-existent statutes of limitations. One strategy can be to attack the validity of any evidence that has degraded and memories that have faded.

In some cases, it can be impossible to deny that an action that would normally be criminal occurred. However, this doesn’t mean that there is no possible defense. A case can be made that the action was not criminal because of the circumstances surrounding the situation. Self-defense, for instance, is an example of this kind of defense.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

It is possible that the court could offer you a public defender at no cost to you. However, if you can at all afford it, you should consider trying to hire an attorney yourself. Public defenders are often overworked and usually can’t give defendants’ cases the attention that they deserve.

Hiring a lawyer means getting someone who can devote whatever time and effort is necessary to give you the defense that you need. It also means that you get to decide who defends you rather than working with whoever is just given to you.

That, of course, leads to the issue of just what traits you should look for in a criminal defense lawyer. Some of the most important characteristics include:

  • Aggressive – You want a lawyer who isn’t going to be timid in defending you. Remember that it is their job to protect your rights against the entire judicial apparatus. That’s going to require an attitude of confidence and assertiveness. You want someone who can defend you with the same dogged determination that you would use to defend yourself.
  • Knowledgeable – Getting a law degree and passing the bar does require a lot of knowledge, but for law, it seems there is always more to learn. You want to work with someone who hasn’t settled with what they needed to get certified but has continued to grow in their knowledge of the law.
  • Experienced – Learning by books is valuable but only to an extent. There is so much that can be learned by actually practicing law, handling cases, negotiating with prosecutors, and handling a court trial. For your defense, you want a team like what you find at Steven T. Meier, PLLC, where they have plenty of experience defending their clients.
  • Detail-Oriented – The courtroom in real life is very different from what you see on TV or in the movies. There, it might seem like cases are often decided by some grand, overwhelming piece of evidence. In reality, though, it’s often little details at the margins that can make all the difference in a verdict. It’s important that you work with a lawyer who can recognize those details and draw attention to them.
  • Trustworthy – You want to have a lot of trust in your lawyer. You are asking them to represent you, and you want to be confident that they can do so in a way that meets your expectations.

Over 20 Years of Experience. A Record of Success.

With a track record of success and dedication to protecting clients’ rights built during his over two decades of experience, including time spent as a public defender, our founding attorney, Steven T. Meier, and his team of lawyers will help safeguard your interests during every twist and turn of the legal process.

Charlotte Criminal Defense FAQs:

Q: What Questions Would a Defense Attorney Ask?

A: The questions a defense attorney may ask depend on the circumstances of your case. An experienced defense attorney should never ask you whether or not you committed the crime. To properly defend you, the defense attorney will need information pertinent to your situation and possible defense strategy. They may ask about your alibi or other factors surrounding the event.

You must be honest and forward with your attorney. If you attempt to withhold the truth from your defense attorney, this can hinder the progress of your case or result in your defense ending unsuccessfully.

Q: What if a Defense Lawyer Knows His Client Is Guilty?

A: A defense lawyer can never really know if their client is guilty because it is not their job to judge their client. A defense attorney will not ask their client if they are guilty, and even if the attorney does ask, the client could pretend to be guilty to cover for someone else or be guilty of a different, lesser crime than the crime charged with.

Q: Do Defense Attorneys Defend People They Know Are Guilty?

A: A defense attorney’s job is to protect their client’s rights, not to judge them. Whether a client is guilty or not does not factor into a defense attorney’s strategy and support. Defense attorneys must present their client and protect the innocent so the client can be judged as guilty only by judges and citizens, not by police or the prosecution.

A defense attorney typically does not ask their client if they committed the crime. One reason for this is that if the defendant has a valid defense that would exonerate them of the crime, then the attorney must pursue this defense.

Q: What Is a Negotiation Between the Prosecutor and Defense Attorney To Avoid a Trial?

A: A plea bargain is a negotiation between the prosecutor and defense attorney to avoid trial. Plea bargains are useful in reducing the strain on the criminal court system, lessening sentences, and obtaining less severe charges.

Defense attorneys who negotiate a plea bargain save their clients time and money. In most cases, bringing a case to trial is more expensive and time-consuming than ending the case with a plea bargain.

When Life Gets Messy, Our Experienced Lawyers Can Help

Almost anyone can become suddenly embroiled in legal trouble, no matter your age, income or life experience. Whether you’re a professional person or business owner who is being investigated for a white-collar crime such as fraud or embezzlement, or a college student who is facing possible underage drinking charges, you need dedicated, tenacious representation.

That’s where we come in. We are committed to providing quality representation. That means we’ll listen intently to you, learn about your case and negotiate skillfully with prosecutors. If it is necessary to go to trial, you can count on us for thorough preparation and a persuasive presentation of your case.

Contact Our Team Today

If you would like to discuss your case or that of a loved one, call us at 704-333-3456. You can also fill out our online contact form to receive a prompt response.


Request Your Free Consultation

"*" indicates required fields

I Have Read The Disclaimer*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Available 24/7 and Walk Ins Welcome