North Carolina residents who have been arrested for drug crimes -- especially those arrested for the first time -- will have a lot of questions about how the criminal process works in our state. No matter how serious your drug crimes charges are, you will remain innocent before the court of all your charges until -- and only if -- you are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What this means is that you will have an opportunity to defend yourself against the charges, and no conviction can occur if the prosecution is not able to meet its burden of proof.
The vast majority of criminal cases start in district court, at which time accused individuals will be advised of their right to legal counsel. Individuals will have choice of defending themselves, having a court appointed public defender when they did not have the funds to retain private counsel or hiring a private criminal defense attorney of their own choosing. It is always advisable that accused parties obtain a legal representative rather than trying to defend themselves.