New Hanover county, district 5, court programs, domestic violence, trial courts
At the first setting of the case, Defendants are questioned concerning appointment of counsel. Defendants are entitled to be represented by lawyers. If a person is likely to go to jail and they cannot afford an attorney, they are entitled to court-appointed counsel. The first time a case is on the calendar for trial, the case may be continued until a later court date because a defendant does not have an attorney. Sometimes the Defendant will decide to plead guilty at their first appearance. This is why it is critical that you keep in close contact with the Domestic Violence Unit personnel, so that you can be present if necessary at the first appearance for a guilty plea.
If a person is arrested on what is termed a "domestic violence offense," the person is held in jail without bond for 48 hours until a District Court Judge in court can have a bond hearing, whichever is less. This means bond cannot be posted for this period of time and the person will stay in jail. If a defendant is in jail and you are involved, you should appear at the next session of criminal court or have discussed your case with the Domestic Violence Unit so that the judge can hear from you about bond.
Cases are not automatically dismissed, even if requested by the prosecuting witness. The Assistant District Attorney will decide whether or not charges will be dismissed.
NC GS 14-226 says that it is a class H felony to intimidate or attempt to intimidate or deter a person acting as a witness from attendance at court, so please contact the Domestic Violence Unit immediately if anyone does anything to keep you from coming to court