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Criminal Defense Archives

Eyewitness testimony can lead to wrongful convictions

Cases of wrongfully convicted defendants proven innocent through DNA technology years later have captured the attention of many in Charlotte and across the country. One factor that has emerged as a repeated concern in several of these cases has been the original reliance on eyewitness identification. DNA technology has been critical in providing direct, physical evidence that has cleared many - and implicated others - especially in cases of rape and murder. However, even with today's DNA technology, eyewitness identification can be a major concern in criminal cases. This is especially true in cases that do not involve DNA evidence.

Correcting or reducing federal sentences using Rule 35

In the federal criminal justice system, mistakes are sometimes made in the sentencing of convicted individuals. According to part A of Rule 35, the court can reduce or correct sentences when there are technical, mathematical or other clear errors. Changes must be made within 14 days of the sentencing. In this rule, sentencing is defined as the oral announcement of the sentence. Rule 35 applies to federal courts in all jurisdictions, including North Carolina.

Report reveals racial disparity in federal sentencing

Federal judges in North Carolina and around the country routinely hand down harsher sentences to African American criminal defendants than they do to white offenders, according to a report released by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The Demographic Differences in Sentencing report, which was published by the independent judicial branch agency on Nov. 14, revealed that black men get sentences that are 19.1 percent longer on average than white males convicted of the same offenses.

Black people may be treated more harshly by prosecutors

North Carolina residents may have heard that black people are disproportionately charged with crimes. A new study shows that black people also face worse treatment by prosecutors and the courts after they have been charged with criminal offenses.

Posting bail in North Carolina

North Carolina residents who are taken into custody on criminal charges are usually anxious to regain their freedom as soon as possible, and this generally involves posting some sort of bail. The judges who oversee arraignment hearings take several factors into consideration before setting bail, but their chief concern is whether or not the defendant poses a flight risk. This is because bail is set to ensure that criminal defendants appear at their trials. Bail is not ordered to punish defendants and it does not necessarily reflect the severity of the crime or crimes involved.

Defining a speedy trial

The Sixth Amendment gives people in North Carolina and around the country the right to a speedy jury trial. Furthermore, a defendant must be tried in front of an impartial jury who finds that person guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. In most cases, the word speedy means a reasonable amount of time after a person is charged and taken into custody. However, a reasonable amount of time may depend on the facts and other circumstances of a case itself.

Report shows how government hacking may be challenged

North Carolina residents may have heard that federal agents are more and more spying on computer users, remotely and secretly, so that they can obtain evidence. However, a report that was released on March 30 offers ways in which this surveillance activity can be challenged.

Mentally ill is not the same as insane

On July 20, 2012, a man reportedly walked into a theater in a Denver suburb and opened fire on the audience. In the course of a few minutes, he killed 12 people and injured 70. During his murder trial, his attorneys have admitted that he committed the shooting. However, as in North Carolina, Colorado law allows someone charged with a crime to potentially escape capital punishment by pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Right to counsel may not include right to pay counsel

In a case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, the government has argued that its interests in obtaining recovery of government funds obtained through fraud takes precedence over the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. If the Supreme Court takes the case, North Carolina criminal defendants may find themselves without the ability to pay for the counsel that the Sixth Amendment gives them the right to retain.

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