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Get the answers to your questions.


How is someone arrested?

In North Carolina, the state can arrest you with or without a warrant. If there is a warrant out for an arrest, the judge in your county was presented with enough probable cause to sign a warrant to allow an immediate arrest. This means the state will try and find you and arrest you for something you did in the past. If there is a warrant for your arrest, a police officer can arrest you on the spot even if you are currently not doing anything illegal. Although there are certain rules they must follow when utilizing a house warrant, a warrant for an arrest means a police officer will immediately arrest you. If there is no warrant for your arrest, the police must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to justify seizing you. After you have been seized, the police officer must make a determination on the spot, if there is enough probable cause to arrest you.

How do you know if there is a warrant for your arrest?
What does it mean when you're booked in jail?

If you have been arrested, the police officer will take you to the jail in the county where you were arrested. At that jail you are then booked. This means the police staff will search you, take your belongings, and then they will note what belongings they have taken. Normally you will also give your finger prints, fill out paperwork, and be given the opportunity to call a family member or attorney.

What is a Magistrate Judge?

A magistrate is a judicial officer of the District Court who handles certain criminal and civil matters. You will encounter a magistrate most likely within 24 hours after being arrested. In criminal cases, a magistrate issues warrants and sets bail. A magistrate may also accept guilty pleas and payments of fines and costs for traffic violations and minor misdemeanors and, in some counties, may conduct trials in certain worthless check cases. In civil cases, the magistrate presides over small claims court.

What is an Order for Arrest (OFA)?

If you have allegedly committed a serious enough offense and skip your court date, the court will issue an OFA. They don’t have to order an OFA but they will for a majority of misdemeanors AND most if not all felonies.

What is a Failure to Appear (FTA)?

An FTA is issued when you miss your court date. The court will give out an FTA for a minor offense like traffic or an infraction. If you do not go back to court and get back on the docket, the court will contact the DMV and your license will be suspended.

Do I need a lawyer for an FTA or an OFA?

Think of it like this: By getting a lawyer, you will know before-hand whether you are going to get out of trouble. Meaning, if you get a lawyer, your lawyer will tell you whether the judge wants to put you in jail or not. You can go in by yourself and try and have the judge strike the OFA or FTA, but if they don’t, you will not get to leave the courthouse and the deputies will put you in jail.

What is a secured bond?

A secured bond means that if you are in jail your bond has to be posted and paid before you can leave.

What is an unsecured bond?

An unsecured bond means that you don’t have to post your bond before you leave jail but you have to make a written promise you will show up to court.

What if I can't afford the bond?

You can ask the judge for a bond reduction or use a bail bondman. The bail bondsman will put up your entire bond, in full, in exchange for 10%-15% of the bond as a fee. He will then make you sign your promise that you will show up for court. You can also put up a valuable asset like your house as collateral for a bond.

Why won't the judge give a bond?

There are two considerations taken into account:

  • Is the defendant a flight risk?
  • Is the defendant a danger to the community?

If the judge thinks the defendant has either one of these tendencies, he does not have to release that person before the trial.

When will the judge never give a bond?
  • Drug trafficking upon Reasonable Cause for trafficking a controlled substance – AND – based upon prior record
  • Gang activity upon Reasonable Cause for committing crime to benefit a gang – AND – based upon prior record
  • Firearms upon reasonable cause for felony or A1 misdemeanor with a firearm – AND – based upon prior record
  • Methamphetamine upon clear and convincing evidence convincing evidence that the Defendant was arrested for a METH-related offense which there is Reasonable Cause to know that the chemical will be used to Manufacture Methamphetamine – AND – The Defendant has a Pattern of Regular Illegal Use of Methamphetamine.
How do I visit someone in jail?

You will need to fill out certain paperwork to visit someone, as well as follow certain procedures and guidelines. For more in-depth information click here.

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