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Chapel Hill, NC

919-913-4701

High quality and affordable representation for when law meets life.

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Chapel Hill Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Defense

The state's authority over an individual is at its highest during the procedure following a criminal offense. With so much at stake, such as personal integrity and liberty, professional and scholastic reputation, and all other fallout collateral to a criminal charge and/or conviction, an attorney is necessary to ensure the state complies with your individual liberties the state and federal constitutions proudly provide. Attorney Hastings has experience defending ordinary people caught in unfortunate circumstances. He knows how to ensure one situation will not define your character, and he holds the state to its constitutional limits in your defense.


The charge and conviction of a crime in North Carolina can adversely affect your future plans and aspirations. You've worked too hard to get where you are to not seek counsel and find out how to defend yourself against the charge. Attorney Hastings has represented clients charged with a variety of crimes from assaults to drug-related charges. He's negotiated outcomes to dismiss assaults through mediation and facilitated getting his clients into deferred prosecution agreements that eventually result in a voluntary dismissal. That gives clients an opportunity to expunge the matter completely from their criminal record like it never happened at all. Please give our office a call at 919-619-1152 to receive a free consultation on price and possible outcomes for your case.


Drug and Alcohol Charges

It can feel like the end of the world when police catch and charge you with an alcohol or drug related charge. It's not. There are several options available in your defense that can limit your exposure and ensure the charge does not derail your future aspirations. Attorney Hastings will explore all of those options available in your defense - and in a swift manner, because he knows how important finality is in these types of matters.


1. alcohol charges

There are several different alcohol charges that you may obtain. From underage possession, to serving alcohol to minors, to drunk and disorderly conduct, and to public intoxication, Attorney Hastings is prepared to mitigate the consequences of the charge and help you move on from the charge. In most cases, there are options he can help you with to dismiss or reduce the charges; that can provide you the opportunity to expunge your record, and Attorney Hastings can facilitate that as well. Please see the following for more information.


2. drug related charges

Perhaps an unfair stigma passes to a person charged with a drug-related crime. Attorney Hastings can help reach a conclusion that reduces the visibility of the charge and in some cases gets it expunged from your record. This will immensely decrease the likelihood future employers or schools will know about the charge.


3. the police investigation must be reasonable & constitutional

Police must present a warrant to a fair and impartial magistrate that describes in sufficiently specific detail why it has reason to search and/or seize a person and/or property. The magistrate must then find the police has probable cause to effectuate the search/seizure. This is known as a prohibition against general searches. It's grounded in the 4th Amendment and article 1, section 20 of North Carolina's Constitution. That right is in constant conflict with the state's reserved right to protect the general welfare of its population. It can impair the ability for law enforcement to keep our streets safe and secure. For that reason, there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, but in no circumstances does it allow for police to act unfaithful to the spirit of the warrant law; that is, police cannot search you or property without sufficiently reliable and narrowed reasons. The most common exception is an investigative detention. Police can constitutionally detain an individual for the purpose of satisfying its hunch that the individual engaged in criminal activity. This allows for a "Terry stop and frisk."


Because this significantly threatens the security of personal privacy, police can only make these stops if it can articulate reasons for its suspicions that were reasonable to form in light of the surrounding circumstances. Even then, police may only detain the person for a time long enough for a reasonable officer to confirm or dispel that initial suspicion.


The stop must be temporal in time and scope commensurate with the reasons police had for making the stop and the severity of the suspected activity. The frisk portion requires police to take one pat down and is only allowed to protect the officer's safety. Therefore, the pat down is only reasonable if police frisk you for weapons, not drugs. Once police detain an individual for investigatory purposes, it cannot unduly prolong the stop, and must be capable of administering the investigation relatively simultaneous with the stop. If, for example, an officer searches a car for drugs and cannot find articulable reasons to search the trunk, the officer cannot hold the car there to wait for the K-9 unit to arrive that is capable of providing adequate indicia of reliability to justify opening the trunk. 


4. the dangers of consent

Another important exception to privacy rights is when police obtain consent. Police will often ask for consent to search you or your property. This waives your right to privacy from the government's search and seizure. Consent must be freely and intelligently provided, but these are not always strict standards. Nevertheless, police must hold a reasonable belief that the person from who it obtained consent had the authority to permit the search. If you feel like police violated your personal privacy rights, please give us a call at 919-619-1152 and we can happily discuss what options you may have.


5. the right to remain silent & the right to an attorney

The pressure of confinement and stress of interactions with the police historically gave rise to the propagation of compelled testimony and confessions. There's an awful double harm to society when the state convicts an innocent person of a crime. On the one hand, we punish an innocent person; on the other hand, a person dangerous to society continues to exist unpunished on the streets. The 5th Amendment and parallel state constitutional rights protect people from the inherent pressure that exists when police detain or question an individual. It gives you the right to remain silent. That right is only meaningful if prosecution cannot use your silence against you or in any way construe your unwillingness to answer police questions as an indication that you are guilty. This right can be extremely delicate. You can waive it just like you can give consent to a search, and that is often where Miranda rights and the 5th Amendment collide.


The 5th Amendment's relation to "Miranda" rights comes from the requirement for police to inform you of the right to remain silent, and to respect it if you invoke the right, prior to when it investigates or interrogates you once you are sufficiently detained that it creates the dangerous culture ripe for compelled and unreliable testimony. The technical term is a custodial interrogation. It refers to the occasion when an individual holds a reasonable belief that he/she cannot terminate the encounter with law enforcement. That situation is so prone to pressure and stress that it makes people often say things not true or otherwise unreliable in exchange for short-term relief from authority.


Attorney Hastings has ample experience in helping clients through these stages. He knows that the presumption of innocence means nothing at all if police can compel testimony once accused. Call 919-619-1152 for more information if you feel there are like issues in your case.


6. deferred prosecution agreements

In order to get the state to agree to drop the charges, the state may require you to complete community service requirements and submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and complete the recommended classes. We provide updates on community service organization, TASC programs, and victim impact panels on our social media platforms to make the completion of certain court requirements less stressful. Follow us and stay updated on important information that could possibly be important to your case.


Call 919-913-4701. We listen first & talk second.