Protecting your rights

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Criminal Defense

If you have been charged with a crime or serious traffic infraction, you deserve a criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend your rights and protect your interest. Whether your charges are State, Federal, Tribal, or University based, we are here to help.

Felonies & Misdemeanors


In North Carolina, felonies are broken down into ten different categorizations, itemized with letters A-I, with A being the most serious felony and I being the least. B felonies are further broken down with numeral specifications. Felonies are defined as a crime violent in nature against a person/property/business, serious drug offenses, and serious property crime. Penalties for felony convictions can range from three months to a year spent in a state penitentiary to death sentences.

A misdemeanor offense in North Carolina is defined as a relatively lesser crime which is punishable by country jail time of up to one year and or a fine. Common Misdemeanor charges include various traffic violations, simple assault, petty larceny, disturbing the peace, and other public nuisances.
While the potential outcomes of these two categories of crime vary widely, a criminal record of any kind can damage your future irreparably. From social stigma to employment disadvantages, the costs of criminal conviction can be infinitely greater than court costs and community service.

When you are unsure how charges will affect you, the criminal justice process can be confusing and overwhelming, adding stress to an already challenging ordeal. At Carpenter & Guy, our criminal defense attorneys offer free & confidential consultations to individuals accused of crimes. Call us today to schedule your case evaluation.


Drug Offenses


Possession of controlled substances in North Carolina is a crime. Drug crimes have both state and federal consequences and can fall under either jurisdiction. If you are facing charges relating to the possession, sale, or manufacture of a controlled substance, you need the guidance of a criminal attorney skilled and experienced in the defense of drug related crimes in both state and federal court.

Carpenter & Guy's criminal defense lawyers are skilled and experienced in defending people accused of drug related infractions. Some common offenses include:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to sell or deliver
  • Manufacture or cultivation of controlled substances
  • Marijuana
  • Ecstasy
  • Cocaine
  • Synthetic and designer drugs like cathinones and marijuana

As defense attorneys, we scrutinize and dissect each individual aspect of the State’s investigation against you and, when necessary, consult with a variety of reliable experts in the network we have created through years of service to our clients. We keep you informed and help you understand what you are up against and how we will defend your rights, helping you to avoid unnecessary fear, confusion, and stress.  Even when the State has significant evidence against you, charges and penalties can often be mitigated, especially when extenuating factors exist. These can include:

  • You were unlawfully detained
  • You, your vehicle, or property were unlawfully searched
  • Your consent to search was made under duress
  • The breadth of your consent to search was exceeded in violation of your rights
  • Your possession of a controlled substance cannot be verified 

If your charges resulted from a chemical dependency, your case may be referred to North Carolina Drug Treatment Court (DTC). Drug Court is a therapeutic court which focuses on treating dependency rather than punishing addictions to controlled substances. Therapeutic alternatives are not generally available at the federal level. Even if the State’s has a strong case against you, and you have a clean record, there are still legal remedies that permit your case to be expunged, even if you are convicted.


Property Crime


Property crime involves a crime that is not directly against an individual; but derives an unlawful benefit or interest from another’s property, procures property through illicit means, or that does not involve force or imminent threat of force against an individual. Property crime includes both misdemeanor and felony charges, ranging from lower level misdemeanors such as shoplifting (Class A Misdemeanor) to severe felonious crimes such as armed robbery (Class D Felony). Robbery is not always classified wholly as property crime as a force or threat to an individual is involved, whereas burglary typically involves an unoccupied dwelling or building.

Punishment for conviction of a property crime can vary from a fine and/or sixty days in jail to a life sentence in a penitentiary depending on the severity of the charge. Property crimes are categorized in two sections, stolen property (i.e. embezzlement or theft) and destroyed property (i.e. vandalism or arson). Property crime can be a state/federal crime depending on the mitigating circumstances of the allegations towards the individual charged. As such, the consequences for the crime vary widely depending on the severity of the charge.

If you are accused of a property crime you will need a criminal defense attorney with experience to protect your rights, one who you can be counted on to be there in your time of need. With over a decade experience serving WNC, we stand beside you throughout the process. Whether you have a simple shoplifting misdemeanor charge or you are facing felony arson charges, we can help you through the criminal court process and aggressively negotiate the best outcome available to you.

We represent individuals accused of:

  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Theft
  • Trespass
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson
  • Armed robbery
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Defacement


Violent Crime


Violent crime is defined as offense involving force or imminent threat of force. This definition is inclusive of crimes where the violence is the objective (as with assault and murder) and crimes where the violence serves as a means to an end (carjacking). Violent crimes can be committed with or without weapons such as firearms or knives.

Violent crimes are comprised of four major offenses:

  • non-negligent manslaughter and murder
  • rape,
  • robbery
  • assault.

In North Carolina the punishments for violent crimes range from Class B misdemeanors (for crimes such as simple assault) to Class A Felonies (for crimes such as murder). The punishments for violent crimes are severe and serious and can include steep fines, years in a penitentiary, or a life sentence. Punishments for violent crimes are not limited to those handed down from the judicial system. You will also be faced with life-long social stigmas, loss of educational opportunities, and employment mobility. If you are found guilty of any crime involving violence, you may also face harsher sentences for future infractions, even minor ones. Every set of facts leading to a violent encounter is unique, and so is every defense. We will work with you to ensure you understand the how the law applies to your situation, and to acquire the most favorable outcome possible for your defense.

If you find yourself accused of a violent crime, you will need a competent and aggressive criminal defense attorney behind you. We are experienced and knowledgeable criminal trial attorneys. We tirelessly and zealously defend your rights.

As criminal defense attorneys, we defend people accused of:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Criminal possession of a weapon
  • Armed robbery
  • Home invasion
  • Theft
  • Hate crimes
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Rape

If you have been arrested and charged with a violent crime, or are under investigation, contact us immediately. Consultations are free. Our service is professional and caring. Our fees are fair.


Domestic Violence


Allegations of criminal domestic violence are serious as these charges are prosecuted aggressively and carry severe consequences. Due to the large increase in homicides as a result of domestic violence, law enforcement officials would rather err on the side of safety now than be sorry in the future.

North Carolina law defines domestic violence as an any of the following acts upon an individual or minor child residing with or in the custody of the alleged perpetrator which the aggrieved individual has/had a “personal relationship” (defined as was or currently is married, are or have been sexually involved, cohabiting heterosexual individuals, have a grandparent/parent/child relationship):

  • Causes physical bodily harm
  • Causes fear for personal safety
  • Constitutes continued harassment

At Carpenter & Guy, we listen to your side of the story, even when it feels like no one else will. Our firm routinely represents individuals who stand accused of criminal domestic violence. We defend against false accusations which result in civil domestic violence protective orders (DVPO), also known as restraining orders or 50b actions.

Allegations of criminal domestic violence will have collateral consequences; such as: denial of child custody, property actions (which can result in large out of pocket fees for relocation, additional utility and housing costs), additional child support and spousal support. Furthermore, due to state and federal regulations, these accusations can result in surrender of currently owned firearms (for a period of up to 90 days), future gun ownership restrictions, and revocation of concealed carry permits (current) if a DVPO is granted. We will discuss all options and will take all necessary steps to reach the best possible outcome for your situation.


White Collar Offenses


In today’s uncertain financial times, embezzlement and other crimes deemed “White Collar” have come under a scope of increasing scrutiny from law enforcement officials. Law enforcement officials are now spending significantly more money and time prosecuting white collar allegations. These crimes are quite serious in nature and often quite complex.

If you suspect you are under government surveillance, it is of paramount importance to hire an aggressive criminal attorney to protect your rights. We represent both individuals and companies through all the stages of the criminal process, including pre-indictment investigation (internal investigations for companies that may have criminal or regulatory exposure), government interviews, target letters, grand jury investigations, indictments, pre-trial negotiations, plea bargaining, trial, sentencing, and appeal.

White collar crimes include:

  • Mortgage fraud
  • Employee theft
  • Larceny
  • Embezzlement or misappropriation of client funds
  • Money laundering
  • Tax evasion
  • Conspiracy
  • Shoplifting
  • Credit card fraud
  • Bank wire fraud
  • Internet fraud
  • Obtaining property under false pretenses
  • Obtaining prescription drugs by fraudulent means
  • Unlawful concealment of merchandise
  • Forgery
  • Extortion
  • Environmental crimes
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Political corruption
  • Business violations

We are experienced white collar criminal trial attorneys. We offer a free and confidential consultation to establish how we can be of service to you in your time of need.


Expunging your record

If you have been convicted of a crime and are suffering from the results of having a criminal record, there are legal remedies that may permit your conviction to be expunged. Carrying a criminal record can have hanting effects for people convicted of criminal acts, from lack of employability, to lower wages, and ineligibility to seek degrees of higher education in our state. The impact of a criminal record can short-change your entire life.

Expungement of a criminal record is not available for every crime or even in all circumstances for certain types of crimes you might expect could be expunged. We are experienced and qualified North Carolina criminal expungement attorneys. We welcome you to call our office in order to set up an appointment to discuss your eligibility to have your record expunged. We offer free, confidential consultations.

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559 West Main Street
Sylva, NC 28779

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Serving the counties of Jackson, Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, Swain, Graham, Clay, and the towns of Sylva, Murphy, Waynesville, Franklin, Bryson City, Hayesville, Robbinsville and the Cherokee Qualla Boundary.

Carpenter,Guy & Arnold