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Do I Have to Come to Court?

Updated July 23, 2014

A useful thing a lawyer may do for you is go to court for you,  so you won’t have to miss work or travel back to North Carolina. Whether a lawyer can do that depends upon whether the charge is  “waivable.”   We all have the right to be present when our case is heard (and we also have the duty to be there).  However, in minor traffic cases, the defendant may waive their right to be in court, and allow a lawyer to handle the case.   The Waiver of Appearance is a paper that you sign and return to your lawyer.

Click below to see  a sample of the waiver I send clients to sign and return to me  (You’ll have to click twice. The first click gets you to another screen with the phrase “Sample Waiver. ”  Then click on that phrase again to see the form).

Sample Waiver

Common waivable charges are  improper passing,  minor speeding tickets, stop sign and traffic light tickets,  possession of an open alcohol container, failure to yield, and  driving the wrong way.

Some offenses that require you to be in court are driving with a revoked license,  possession of  stolen or fictitious plates, DWI, reckless driving, high-speed tickets, failure to stop at the scene of an accident,  and failure to have insurance.  [Source:  Uniform Policies Related to Traffic Offenses, NC Administrative Office of the Courts (2011)]

Even if you are charged with a non-waivable offense, I may still appear for you.  How?  By pleading down your non-waivable offense down to a lesser charge that is waivable. For example, you are charged with driving 82 mph in a 65 mph zone.  If I can get that reduced to 74 in a 65,  I can usually enter that reduced plea using a waiver form.

Let me go to court for you — call me now for a free consult!  919-683-2175.                     

Fake ID Cards

If you are under twenty-one years old, you can’t buy or drink alcoholic beverages in North Carolina.  If you use a fake ID, and you are caught, you’ll have to go to criminal (not just traffic) court, and face the possibility of having a criminal record.

If you have been charged with  underage possession or with using a fake ID,  you may avoid a criminal record through a couple of diversion programs.  “Diversion” means that a case is taken off the usual path leading to trial or guilty plea and the person is given the chance to keep their record clean by doing community service or going to classes. One program is the  “First Offender’s Program.” As the name implies, your record must be clean (except perhaps a minor traffic ticket), and you can’t have been through the program before. Participants perform community service and pay court fees.  They also may have to write a short paper on substance abuse or have a substance abuse assessment, or both.  And, they must go up to six months without getting any new criminal charges of any kind.  Once the tasks are done and the required time has passed, the District Attorney will dismiss the charges, and the person will not have a conviction on their record.

Another program is the TASC program.  TASC stands for “Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities.”  This program requires the person to be evaluated for drug or alcohol problems.  If no problem is found, then the person attends several evening classes and pays a fee for the classes.  If a problem is found, then the person attends drug or alcohol counseling.  In either event, once the classes or counseling are done, and the fees paid, then the D.A.’s office will dismiss the case. Usually, the TASC program lasts anywhere from two to six months.

If you have been charged with using a fake ID or underage possession,  give me a call at 919-683-2175.  I can help!