For 22 years, I’ve been fighting to defend individuals accused of crimes in the State and Federal courts of North Carolina. I love the job.
For example, at the moment I am defending clients in investigations involving diverse subjects such as health care billing fraud, government contracting and military bidding fraud, tax evasion, FDA drug misbranding, and old-fashioned marijuana drug conspiracy with money laundering. In the process of defending these clients, I find it fascinating to learn in detail about different types of businesses, how they work and how they are regulated.
Most of my cases are in the Federal court in the Western District of North Carolina, but I also work in the Federal Middle and Eastern Districts. Over the years I have worked on State court cases in more than 30 counties in North Carolina, in addition to my home base of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County.
Last year I won a jury acquittal defending a police officer in a federal criminal trial alleging excessive force. This year my law partners and I are preparing for a murder trial in state court. We thrive in both White Collar and Blue Collar criminal cases.
Nowadays, I limit the number of cases I take in order to be able to spend more time on each. I have found that learning the facts and details in depth, and meeting often with each client helps in formulating pre-trial motions, discovery motions and defense strategies.
In 2002 I earned from the North Carolina State Bar the honor of being a Board Certified Specialist in both State and Federal Criminal Law, and was recertified in 2008 and 2013. In 2011 I was appointed to serve on the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory commission, as a representative criminal defense lawyers statewide. I also currently serve on the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, which is the association of trial lawyers. I served as Chair of NCAJ’s Criminal Section in 2010-11.
I am proud to have authored an Amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit case of United States v. Simmons.
United States v. Kareem Puranda — Chris Fialko represented Mr. Puranda, a Salisbury Police Officer charged criminally in federal court in the Middle District of North Carolina with two counts of using excessive force.
Fialko drafted and filed a pretrial motion arguing that the legal definition of excessive force was unconstitutionally vague as applied to these two situations, in which Puranda was in the act of arresting individuals who had fled on foot from traffic stops.
Although the motion was denied, the trial judge gave an excellent jury instruction concerning excessive force.
The jury acquitted Puranda of both counts.
Innocence Exoneration of Robert Wilcoxson — In September 2011, Chris Fialko represented Robert Wilcoxson in a two-week hearing in Asheville, in front of a three-judge panel of Superior Court Judges appointed by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.
Fialko presented more than 15 witnesses and 60 exhibits proving that Wilcoxson was in fact innocent of a murder he had been convicted of in 2000.
After serving 11 years for a crime he did not commit, Wilcoxson was found innocent, and Fialko walked with him out of the Buncombe County Jail on September 22, 2011.
State Bar v. Gregory R. — In 2012, Chris Fialko represented Gregory R., a lawyer charged by the North Carolina State Bar with mortgage fraud.
Fialko defended Gregory in a three-day hearing in front of a three judge disciplinary panel in Raleigh, and the charges were dismissed.