the jury trial if i understand correctly will be a trial de novo. it'll be like the bench trial never happened.
North Carolina, like some states, has a two-tiered criminal system. Lower level cases, including infractions, almost all misdemeanors and most Class H & I felonies – can be resolved in District Court, which is the lower of two levels.
If a person wants to have a trial on a misdemeanor or an infraction, that trial will almost always occur first in District Court (unless the case has been indicted), and in that case the person will appear before a judge for arraignment and a trial as part of what’s known as a Bench Trial.
Felonies cannot be tried by judge in North Carolina. If a person wishes to resolve a felony in District Court, the person can do so, but must plead guilty. There may be many reasons to plead guilty to a felony in District Court, rather than demand a jury trial in Superior Court.
Upon an appeal, the District Court Judge has a limited opportunity (described elsewhere on this blog) to impose a new bond – called an Appeal Bond – designed to ensure the person is not a danger to the community or and that the person appears for his or her Superior Court court dates.
If the case is sent to Superior Court, what happens to the judgment?
The judgment is set aside. It is a nullity. The case returns to “pending” status and remains that way until one of several things happens in Superior Court.
The person is found guilty or not-guilty by a Superior Court Jury
The person decides to withdraw the appeal and remand the case from Superior Court back to District Court, which in DWI cases requires a new sentencing hearing.
The person decides to plead guilty in Superior Court, and is sentenced in Superior Court by a judge.
The State dismisses the case in Superior Court.
If you’re being sentenced in other states, those states should not count a District Court conviction that has been appealed as a criminal conviction. It should be regarded as a nullity.