Facing an arrest in North Carolina may be alarming, but if you don’t know what to expect, it can seem even worse. 

According to FindLaw, the criminal procedure in North Carolina generally follows these basic steps:

Arrest

Law enforcement has to have probable cause to arrest you. If an officer does believe there are grounds to arrest you, he or she does not have to read you your Miranda rights until after the arrest. After that, you may be taken into custody and transported to jail, where authorities will gather relevant information about you.

Arraignment

Within 48 hours, you must be brought before a judge and informed of the charges against you. It is at this point that you will plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. Rather than sending you back to jail, the judge may set bail. You do not necessarily have to pay the full amount in order to be released until your trial, though. Generally, you can be released after paying at least 10 percent.

Trial

If your offense is a misdemeanor, a judge will review your case and issue a verdict. This is typically fines and probation or a prison sentence. If you are charged with a felony, you have the right to choose a jury trial. 

Appeal

Not every case can be appealed, but you may have grounds to challenge your conviction in a state court of appeals based on factors such as errors in procedure or other legal mistakes. 

This general information is provided to give you an idea of the criminal procedure in North Carolina. However, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.