The Steps for a Misdemeanor Criminal or Traffic case in Wake County

Below is a general outline of how a traffic or criminal case proceeds through the court system in Wake County. Take note when reviewing the misdemeanor case stages that for some misdemeanor offenses the officer can choose to either write a citation or make an arrest; this would obviously alter the earlier stages of the process.

Traffic Case

  1. Traffic ticket issued; the ticket has the first court date written or typed on it.
  2. First court date is in courtroom 101 (an administrative courtroom, no trials are held).  Room 101 is on the first floor and goes from 8:45AM until 3:30PM each day.  You can show up whenever you want in that window of time.  The offender speaks to an ADA (or more likely the offender's lawyer speaks to ADA); various things may occur, including a plea offer being made by the ADA
  3. If any plea offer is not accepted by the offender in courtroom 101, the case is scheduled for trial in a different courtroom for another day when the officer who wrote the ticket will be present and a trial will take place before a District Court judge.

Misdemeanor Case

  1. Arrest/Citation Issued
  2. If arrested you are either released from custody or you post a bond.
  3. First appearance in 101 (the judge addresses the appointment of counsel and possibly bond); trial date set for another courtroom on another day when the officers/witnesses will be present.  Generally your lawyer can appear on your behalf if your misdemeanor is set in room 101.
  4. First appearance NOT set in 101(the judge addresses the appointment of counsel and possibly bond); trial date set for another courtroom on another day when the officers/witnesses will be present.  You must be in court for this hearing
  5. Guilty or Not Guilty plea
  6. If guilty, defendant sentenced. If not guilty, trial takes place - usually on the same day - but depends on number of cases scheduled for trial that day
  7. Trial takes place in front of a District Court judge (no jury trials in District Court for criminal cases)
  8. If found guilty after a trial, judge sentences defendant
  9. Defendant may appeal the conviction to Superior Court where he/she is entitled to a trial de novo (meaning a new trial where the conviction by the District Court judge does not come into evidence); the trial is in front of a jury of 12 who will determine guilt (instead of a judge)
  • If unanimous verdict of 12 jurors that defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, judge sentences defendant
  • If unanimous verdict of 12 jurors that defendant is not guilty, defendant is released from custody, if he is in custody, and he cannot be tried again
  • If 12 jurors cannot agree, hung jury and mistrial is declared. State can re-try the case if appropriate given resources available and other cases pending trial
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Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.