Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Howard Cummings

Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney at Law Magazine’s Raleigh Criminal Defense Local Legal Authority.

Howard Cummings

Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney

Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Howard Cummings

Howard Cummings is a tenured criminal litigator who served as Deputy Assistant District Attorney for Wake County for nearly three decades. He brings a wealth of knowledge, resources, and insight to the criminal defense team at Tharrington Smith.

Licensed to practice in North Carolina in 1979, Howard was a private practice lawyer in Pitt for several years before moving to Raleigh and joining the DA’s office. During his tenure, he saw the DA’s office expand from 15 attorneys to several dozens. Through thousands of criminal matters, Howard has been known for fairness and compassion, which he displayed to victims and offenders alike. Upon his retirement from the District Attorney’s office in late 2018, Governor Roy Cooper bestowed to him fellowship in the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his service to the state.

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About Raleigh Criminal Defense Law

If you or your loved one is facing a criminal charge, it can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating time.  Given the complexity of criminal laws and the potentially severe consequences, an experienced Raleigh criminal lawyer is essential to navigating through this uncertain time.

Below we have provided some basic information about Raleigh criminal law, including when and how a Raleigh criminal defense attorney in can be most useful.

What Are Criminal Charges?

At its simplest, an individual is facing criminal charges when they have committed a crime.  A crime is any act committed or omitted that violates a public law.  The laws of North Carolina will define these forbidden acts.  All crimes will generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Felony: Felonies are the most severe level of crime, generally punishable by imprisonment for more than a year, in addition to any fines.  Examples of crimes that are considered felonies include murder, arson, and rape.
  • Misdemeanor: Misdemeanors are lesser crimes, generally resulting in prison sentences of less than a year and lesser fines.  Examples of misdemeanors include trespassing and vandalism.
  • Infraction: Infractions are minor or petty crimes that normally do not result in jail time.  Examples include speeding or running a red light.

While each of the above categories of crimes come with different punishments, each can have a significant impact on an individual’s life.

How a Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a Criminal Defense attorney in Raleigh as soon as possible.  Regardless of whether you have committed some wrongdoing or if you are completely innocent, a licensed legal practitioner will be an invaluable resource throughout the criminal process.

A criminal lawyer in Raleigh can assist in all facets of the criminal process, including:

  • Ensure Your Rights are Protected. You may have heard the recitation of Miranda rights in movies or TV shows – including the right to an attorney.  This is considered an essential right to those facing criminal charges because an attorney can ensure a charged individual receives all the rights they are due under the law.
  • Understand the Legal Process. Criminal attorneys know the ins and outs of the legal process for criminal cases.  They can assist you in any preliminary hearings, ensure your bail is set at a reasonable amount, and confirm that all legal procedures are being properly followed by the police and the prosecutor.
  • Create Defense Strategy. Lawyers who work in Raleigh criminal law have significant experience strategizing the most effective way to handle a case.  This often includes striking deals with the prosecution and securing lesser sentences.
  • Understand Case Precedent. One important tool in a successful criminal case is past case law.  If there are past cases where a similarly situated defendant overcame criminal charges, an attorney can use this to persuade a judge or jury that you should see the same result.

As you or your loved one determines next steps for handling criminal charges, an Raleigh Criminal Defense attorney will be an invaluable asset.  The criminal legal process can present unexpectedly complicated twists and turns, where a wrong step could result in serious limitations on your personal liberty.

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What clients in Raleigh are saying about
Howard Cummings

Tharrington Smith LLP
Based on 25 reviews
Melissa Hill represented me for my divorce. Since day one, Melissa was extremely professional and caring. If I had a question she was quick with a response. I would highly recommend Melissa to anyone in need of legal counsel.
Scott Boiallis
Scott Boiallis
17:32 20 Dec 19
Gave some very good legal advice with a case (Sr. Partner: Jaye Meyer) but know that they do not come cheap as not everything should come cheap, no? Especially not when it concerns parties VERY important to you.
21:31 23 Nov 19
5 star experience from the receptionist to the lawyers. I couldn’t have asked for a smoother process during the most trying time in my life. I would recommend Tharrington Smith to anyone needing someone for family law because in the end, the most difficult time of my life was always handled with the most respect. I couldn't have asked for a more capable, qualified group of people to help me through. Thank you to each of you!
Amanda Wilson
Amanda Wilson
20:58 20 Nov 19
Jeff Russell has helped me with multiple issues over the years relating to family law. The matters were all handled promptly, at a reasonable cost, and required no further attention. I've also reached out to him on numerous other occasions on items that his firm doesn't specialize in and he's always willing to personally connect me to another attorney/firm.
Paul Benjamin
Paul Benjamin
14:34 17 Oct 19
I am a college student, so when I got an alcohol ticket, I immediately reached out to Russel D. Babb for help. My family had heard good things about him and so I knew he would be able to help me out. He did not disappoint. He was able to handle the case for me and made it as easy on me as possible. We reached the outcome I was hoping for and he was in constant contact with me throughout the process, providing both assistance and advice. His firm and associates were also extremely helpful, handling every call and question I had and providing assistance extremely fast. Highly, highly recommend Russel.
Andrew Kaczynski
Andrew Kaczynski
14:26 09 Apr 19

Get Legal
Advice From
Howard Cummings

Contact Raleigh
Criminal Defense Attorney

Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Howard Cummings

Winner of the 2016 Gilchrist Award from the North Carolina Bar Association

Inducted into the American College of Trial Attorneys in 2017

Best Lawyers, Criminal Defense: General Practice, 2021

Governor Roy Cooper bestowed to him fellowship in the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of his service to the state.


(919) 821-4712


150 Fayetteville St Suite 1800, Raleigh, North Carolina 27601