DO NOT ASSUME YOUR CASE IS OVER JUST BECAUSE IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THIS SEARCH OR THAT YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CASE OR COURT DATE.
You can look up some cases here: http://www1.aoc.state.nc.us/www/calendars/Criminal.html
How the System Works
In connection with criminal cases, a civil judgment is a monetary obligation imposed by a court to pay a certain amount of money to the state or to the victim of a crime. It is enforceable in civil court. When a civil judgment is assessed against someone, it becomes a lien on real estate the person might own. This can interfere with that person’s right to transfer or sell that property. In certain cases related to drug trafficking, North Carolina statutes permit the state to execute the civil judgment, allowing it to take possession of the property.
Criminal courts sometimes impose civil judgments on criminal defendants in connection to their case. North Carolina law permits courts to docket a civil judgment against a person if they fail to pay fines or certain costs imposed by the court. If a person is appointed an attorney and is later found guilty or pleads guilty, and that finding is not disturbed on appeal, they may be ordered to pay the state back for the costs of their attorney. If a person is ordered to pay a fine or a penalty and they fail to pay it, the money owed can become a civil judgment. If a person is ordered by a court to pay more than $250 in restitution to a victim of crime for an offense that is covered under the Crime Victims Rights Act, that order automatically becomes a civil judgment.
Some details about the assessment and enforcement of civil judgments will depend on the facts of the individual case. People facing or convicted of criminal charges should consult with their attorney for information about their specific financial obligations.
The term ‘collateral consequences’ refers to legal and regulatory penalties people may face as a result of a criminal conviction, separate and apart from those imposed by the sentencing court. In some cases, they can significantly interfere with people’s ability to access important opportunities or benefits. Collateral consequences include rules restricting the ability of people with criminal records to work in some professions, to pursue certain educational opportunities, to vote, or even to live in certain places. The UNC School of Government’s Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool allows users to better understand existing penalties by searching by crime characteristics, keywords, or consequence category.
In some cases, people burdened by collateral consequences can seek relief from them by asking the court to expunge their record. When a record of an offense is expunged, it is effectively erased, and the person is no longer burdened by the consequences of the conviction. While a person’s eligibility for expungement depends on the offense and their criminal history, the North Carolina General Assembly has acted in recent years to expand relief to a wider range of circumstances.
- The UNC School of Government’s graphic novel, In Prison: Serving a Felony Sentence in North Carolina, describes in an easy-to-follow and accessible format how a felony sentence is served in North Carolina and follows a prisoner “from the moment the sentence is pronounced to the day post-release supervision is completed, explaining where and how time will be served.” (A second graphic novel, On Probation: Serving a Probationary Sentence in North Carolina, similarly follows a person through each step of the probationary process.)
- IDS contracts with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. to assist North Carolina in fulfilling its constitutional duty to provide meaningful access to the courts for those incarcerated in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction. Inquiries should be directed to NCPLS, P.O. Box 25397, Raleigh NC 27611.
- The Inside Books Project’s 36-page Prison Resource Guide, updated in September 2020, provides an extensive list of addresses and information about more than a hundred organizations that provide resources for prisoners on a wide variety of matters, including health care, legal support, religious issues, reading materials, education, family support, immigration, women’s issues, and pen pal programs.
- The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook, a 158-page guide published by the Center for Constitutional Rights and National Lawyers Guild, provides an overview of the legal rights of people in custody and includes information about remedies for the violation of rights in prison and jail settings.
- Prison Legal News maintains one of the largest and most comprehensive list of online resources for prisoners on a wide variety of topics.
- Prison Fellowship’s lengthy Prison Survival Guide: Surviving and Thriving Behind Bars, updated in 2020 and written by prisoners and former prisoners, provides practical advice from a variety of perspectives on everything from food and exercise to maintaining family relationships and mental health.
Getting an Attorney When You Cannot Afford an Attorney
You are entitled to appointed counsel in the following circumstances:
- For any charge that carries the possibility of an active sentence or a fine of more than $500
- For a juvenile delinquency proceeding (see Juvenile Defender)
- If the State has taken your children in a DSS proceeding (see Parent Representation)
- In a direct appeal of a criminal conviction and in some post-conviction proceedings (see Appellate Defender)
- If you are civilly committed (see Special Counsel)
A. You are not entitled to appointment of an attorney in the types of cases below:
- Traffic Infractions
- Parking Tickets
- DMV hearings
- Divorce, equitable distribution and child custody
- Petitioning the court to return property after the disposition of a case
- Most civil matters where you want to sue someone or someone is suing you, including small claims, districts and superior courts and any appeals from these civil courts
- Gun permits or denial or gun permits
You may be able to get help by contacting a legal aid service provider.
You ask. For a pending criminal case, the usual process is for the judge at your first court appearance to offer you three choices about counsel:
- Request court-appointed counsel;
- Find, hire, and pay for your own attorney; or
- Represent yourself.
If you ask for court-appointed counsel, you must fill out an affidavit of indigency. This is a paper on which you tell the court how much money you have, what assets (a car, a house) you have and what you pay for rent, child support and other expenses. You will swear that your answers are true and could be prosecuted for perjury of you lie about any of these things. The court will review this affidavit of indigency and either approve your request or deny it.
No. If you plead guilty or are found guilty or if you are not successful in your appeal for which you have an appointed attorney, you may be required to pay back the State which pays your attorney, plus the $75 fee for having an appointed attorney. NOTE: if you are a juvenile in juvenile court, your parents/guardians are responsible for paying back any attorney fees.
A. If you presently are not able to hire an attorney but think that you might be able to or that your family might be able to help you hire an attorney in the future, you should consider asking the court to appoint you an attorney now. There are many ways an attorney may assist you at the early stages of your case. If you are later able to hire the attorney of your choice, you can ask your appointed attorney to withdraw.
A. No. This is an IDS Rule to avoid the situation where it looks like an attorney might “try harder” if they were paid upfront by you.
A. You should discuss this with your appointed attorney. You may still be indigent and entitled to appointed counsel. If you are not, your attorney is legally required to tell the court and withdraw from the case.
A. No. Once you are represented by any attorney, either appointed or retained, another attorney, public defender or court-appointed, should not speak with you absent that attorney’s permission.
A. An attorney may be appointed for children facing criminal charges. Contact the Office of the Juvenile Defender for more information.
A. An attorney may be appointed for a parent facing action by DSS. The Office of Parent Representation may provide more information.
A. NC IDS is only for matters involving state courts. You will be advised of your rights to an attorney in federal court. See the webpage for the Federal Public Defenders: https://nce.fd.org/
A. No. The current state of the law is that the government does not have to provide counsel. You are allowed to hire an attorney but you are not entitled to an appointed attorney at any stage for immigration cases.
A. Generally, no. You may seek the advice of outside private counsel. You should not speak to anyone but a lawyer about the facts of your case. If someone from law enforcement is seeking to speak to you, you should tell them you want an attorney with you and that you are waiting for the appointment of counsel. Law enforcement is not allowed to speak to you once you have invoked your right to counsel
A. There are several miscellaneous proceeding in which counsel may be appointed:
1. When law enforcement has seized property from an unknown or unapprehended defendant, or from a defendant willfully absent from the jurisdiction, and the lawful owner petitions a court for return of the property pursuant to G.S. 15A-11.1(b);
2. Cases in which a person is subject to a non-testimonial identification procedure under G.S. 15A-279(d);
3. Cases in which a material witness appears for a hearing on a motion for an order assuring his or her attendance at a criminal proceeding under G.S. 15A-803(d);
4. Cases in which a criminal defendant elects to represent himself or herself and the court determines that standby counsel should be appointed pursuant to G.S. 15A-1243;
5. Cases in which a person is taken or charged on any order of arrest for default of bail, or on surrender of bail, or in execution of arrest for any debt or damages rendered in any action, and such person petitions the court for provisional release pursuant to G.S. 23-30.1;
6. Cases in which a minor has been voluntarily admitted to a mental health or substance abuse facility pursuant to G.S. 122C-224.1;
7. Child support contempt proceedings in which the defendant faces a sentence of actual imprisonment (see Parent Rep page)See McBride v. McBride, 334 N.C. 124, 431 S.E.2d 14 (1993)(finding right to counsel whether contempt proceeding is designated as civil or criminal).
8. Judges may appoint counsel to represent minors seeking to be married (G.S. 90-21.8(c); 7A-451(a)(16)) or minors seeking an abortion (G.S. 90-21.7).