Courthouse Procedure for Misdemeanor and Traffic offenses in North Carolina
Whether you have a pending traffic court date or criminal court date, many criminal defense and traffic clients have concerns about their pending court date. This blog provides an overview of what to expect on your court date.
Overview of courthouse procedure
Courthouse procedure varies drastically by county. However, there are certain things that you should expect, regardless of the county. First, plan to get to the courthouse reasonably early. Keep in mind that there are many things you will need to do. You will need to find parking, get into the courthouse, go through security, and find your courtroom. As a criminal defendant, you do not want to be late to your court date.
Most courthouses will have a docket call. In Mecklenburg County criminal district court, the Assistant District Attorneys will perform a docket call (roll call). They will perform a docket call call at 9:00 am for the AM session. They will perform a docket call at 1:30 pm for the PM session. If you have a criminal defense attorney, your attorney will find you.
Regardless of the county, if you are a criminal defendant, it is important to attend all of your court dates. If you are a criminal defendant and you miss your court date, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest.
Traffic Court Attendance
If you are charged with a traffic offense and you have not hired a traffic lawyer, you will also need to attend your court date. On the other hand, if you have a traffic lawyer, your attorney will let you know whether or not you have to attend your court date. Typically, you will not.
As a side note, many people often pay their traffic citation online to avoid having to show up to their court date. Please keep in mind that by doing this, you are admitting guilt and if you are charged with a moving violation, you will almost always get points on your driver’s license and insurance. Whether or not you hire an attorney for a traffic infraction, you should consult with an attorney before paying a traffic citation online. A traffic lawyer will be able to tell you how serious the consequences will be so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you should hire an attorney.
If you are charged with a crime and have a criminal defense attorney, the Assistant District Attorney cannot and will not speak with you. The Assistant District Attorney will only speak with your criminal defense attorney. If you have any questions, you should direct them to your attorney. If you do not have an attorney and need immediate assistance, you should direct your question to a deputy, rather than an Assistant District Attorney.
How long will I have to be in court?
Traffic court and criminal court typically involve a lot of waiting. Regardless of the county, there is typically a relatively full docket with many criminal defendants and only a couple of Assistant District Attorneys and one judge overseeing the entire docket. While a criminal defense attorney can help streamline the process for you and explain to you what is going on, there is often still a good amount of waiting your turn.
NC Court System
If you have questions about your criminal or traffic court date and have not yet hired a criminal defense attorney, call Gilles Law to see how we can help you. 980-272-8438