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Common Questions About lawyers and courts


1. What is a “Specialist” in State Criminal Law?
The North Carolina State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization sets rigorous standards under which a lawyer can become “Board Certified” in a number of specialties. Those standards include strict continuing education standards, peer review by other lawyers in the field of criminal law and by judges, the passing of a written test established by the Board, and substantial time spent in the field of Specialization. The Board reviews each Specialist’s Certification every five years to ensure that the Specialist has met the Board’s continuing education requirements and all of the Board’s other standards for re-certification.

2. What is the difference in District Court and Superior Court for criminal cases?
District Courts hear less serious cases (misdemeanors) and the preliminary stages of more serious matters (felonies). A felony disposition can only occur in Superior Court (with some limited exceptions) while a misdemeanor disposition can take place in either District or Superior Court depending on circumstances of the case.

3. What is the difference in District Court and Superior Court for civil cases?
District Courts hear civil cases in which the amount of money involved in the case is below a certain threshold set by the General Assembly, all domestic/family law cases, and appeals from Small Claims (Magistrate’s) Court. The “bigger” cases, involving larger amount of money are typically handled by Superior Courts.

4. Do I really need a lawyer for a simple speeding (or other “minor” traffic) violation?

Always remember that “paying off” a ticket is the same as “pleading guilty” (if the charge is a misdemeanor) or “pleading responsible” (if the charge is an infraction). If the ticket is for a moving violation, that typically means the driver will have driver license points and insurance points added to his/her record. License points may cause the person to have to take the written test on his/her next driver license renewal and insurance points usually cause unwelcome surprises when it is time to renew the family’s car insurance coverage!

5. The officer who arrested me did not “read me my rights.” Doesn't that mean my charge has to be dismissed?
No. It does mean that portions of the evidence law enforcement officers have collected may not be admissible in court, though; and, experienced counsel will discuss that with you at length and use that omission to your best advantage in defending your case.

**Please note that these answers to FAQ's are not intended to be exhaustive, and nothing that appears on our website may be regarded as giving legal advice for any particular situation. Similarly, nothing on our website may be regarded as creating an attorney-client relationship.