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North Carolina Court Records

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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in North Carolina?

When charged for a crime in North Carolina, accused persons are advised to talk to an attorney and prepare to make a court appearance. Defendants are also required to gather relevant evidence, all of which must be duplicated for the judge, the other party, and the jury where applicable. According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch requirements, objections can be made based on the Rules of Evidence by persons standing trial. All in all, if the judgment issued by the judge is not favorable, an appeal can be made, and an attorney should be consulted immediately.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in North Carolina?

In its latest annual report, the North Carolina Judicial Branch put the total number of criminal cases filed in 2018 and 2019 at 1,387,735. The total number of criminal cases (traffic and non-traffic) compiled within this period were 1,637,419. Based on the report’s statistics regarding filed claims and those still pending, only 11.3% of them went to trial within that judicial year.

When does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

Under Chapter 15A Article 71, all criminal defendants have the right to a jury trial. In the district court, the judge is the finder of fact in criminal cases, but the defendant has the right to appeal in superior court as provided in G. S. 15A–1431. In superior court trials, a defendant that pleads not guilty will be tried by the jury, except the defendant decides to wave the right to a jury trial as provided in subsection (b) of G. S. 15A–1431. Also present in the statutes is that defendants should be made aware of their right to trial from the beginning of court proceedings.

What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the stages of a criminal trial for misdemeanors and felony crimes are similar, except for some slight differences like the number of people on juries. The significant phases include:

  • Jury Selection

An opportunity is granted to the defense and prosecution in criminal cases to ask potential jury members questions. The questions are to be approved by the judge, and the lawyers can request for individual members of the jury pool.

  • Presentation of Evidence

Through a motion known as in limine, both attorneys are allowed to request inclusion and exclusion of specific evidence.

  • Opening Statements

Opening statements are meant to briefly describe the prosecution and defense’s take on the case and how they plan to prove their point.

  • Cross-examination

Both the prosecution and the defense retain the right to call witnesses to the stand. The prosecution attorney is allowed to cross-examine any witness called by the defense counsel, including the defendant.

  • Closing arguments

When the witnesses have testified and the evidence has been presented, the prosecuting and defense attorneys give their closing statements.

  • Deliberation

The jury is given instructions, deliberates on the case in a chamber, and is expected to bring a unanimous decision concerning the verdict.

  • Post-trial motions

Post-trial motions are when the defense attorney moves to dismiss the case after the defendant is found guilty by the jury’s verdict.

  • Sentencing

Most times, the judge goes with the jury’s decision and then issues a sentence if the defendant is found guilty.

  • Appeals

Whichever side loses in the jury trial has the right to appeal the ruling stating the art of the trial they are not satisfied with. If the request for appeal is successful, the defendant is allowed a new trial.

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in North Carolina?

Based on the number of days it takes for a case to get disposed of as reported in the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s Annual Report for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal year, felony cases take 103 days, while misdemeanor cases take 635 days. The lengthy-time taken to get a case to trial is North Carolina’s lack of a speedy trial statute. The G. S. 15A–701, North Carolina Speedy Trial Act, required that the defendants be tried within 120 days of the arrest. However, the act was repealed in 1989.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in North Carolina?

When a court case goes to trial in North Carolina, the judge orders the selection of a jury. Afterward, the evidence available is presented, and both parties may request the inclusion or exclusion of evidence. As is statutory, an opening statement is given by the attorneys on either side of the bench. They briefly explain their intention to prove the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Witnesses are then cross-examined by both defense and prosecuting attorneys. Closing arguments must be given to further plead their case to the jury based on the evidence presented and witnesses’ testament.

The jury members will deliberate on a verdict of guilty or not guilty, and their decision must be unanimous. If the defendant is found guilty, the defense attorney moves for dismissal of the case, but in most cases, the judge accepts the verdict given by the jury. The judge then issues a sentence based on the state’s statutes if the defendant is found guilty. The right to appeal can then be invoked by the losing party while stating their dissatisfaction. If the request for appeal is accepted, a new trial will be fixed.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in North Carolina?

No, a person cannot be put on trial twice for the same crime in North Carolina, according to Article 1 of the North Carolina State Constitution. In the United States of America, there’s a dual-sovereignty doctrine that protects individuals from being put in jeopardy for the same offense twice.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Judicial Branch grants interested persons online access to court calendars to look up schedules for criminal and infraction court cases in North Carolina. Accessibility to court calendars involves providing the defendant’s name or the citation number in the search field.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in North Carolina

North Carolina maintains a Remote Public Access Program with third parties through The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC). NCAOC manages an Automated Criminal/Infractions System (ACIS) to access criminal records online, and a Civil Case Processing System (VCAP) where interested persons may obtain records of civil cases online. The information provided by these systems includes criminal records (for pending cases as well), infractions, tax liens, evictions, and judgments. There’s usually no difference in the content of the records provided online and those obtained at the repository physically.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in North Carolina?

To remove public court records in North Carolina means that a person’s charge, arrest, or conviction will be discarded. Furthermore, an individual who has been granted expunction can deny any form of charge or conviction and cannot be guilty of perjury. However, in North Carolina, expunction is not definite as law enforcement agencies keep copies of such records. Nevertheless, records filed for expungement will be restricted from public access.

Eligibility for expungement is determined under the North Carolina General Statutes § 15A–145, and the petition can only be filed two years after the conviction or after the completion of a probation period. The processes involved in getting a public court record sealed in North Carolina vary in requirements, as stated in the General Statutes § 15A–145. Applicants will be required to pay $175 for processing to the Clerk of Court.

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