Clayton, North Carolina

Clayton, North Carolina, the self-proclaimed Premier Community for Active Families, is located in western Johnston County, a 20-minute drive from the state capital in Raleigh. The 6,973 residents of Clayton (2000 U.S. Census Bureau data) enjoy the security of living in a small, friendly community, within a short drive of all of the amenities of the Research Triangle region. Clayton's excellent public schools, administered by Johnston County Schools, are a major factor in attracting residents.

Incorporated in 1869, Clayton's early industries were primarily cotton and tobacco. By the 1970s, neither was profitable for the town any longer but Clayton adapted to the change well. Today, a thriving industrial base surrounds Clayton. Major manufacturers, such as Caterpillar, and bio-pharmaceutical companies, such as Talecris and Novo Nordisk, are the primary sources of employment for the residents of Clayton, NC.

Located in the transition zone between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina, Clayton enjoys near-perfect weather year-round, allowing residents and visitors the chance to enjoy the bountiful outdoor recreational opportunities including the town’s three private golf courses. The Clayton Recreation Department lives up to the city slogan “Premier Community for Active Families” by providing three park sites containing five athletic fields, seven tennis courts, a basketball court, two sand volleyball courts, eight bocce courts, and a bike trail. Cultural amenities in Clayton, NC include the Clayton Center Performing Arts Auditorium, which features a thriving community theater.

The Town of Clayton provides public safety for town residents via the Clayton Fire Department and the Clayton Police Department. The Clayton Police Department's recent 2010 Labor Day Booze It & Lose It 17-day traffic safety campaign, which targeted DUI and DWI drivers, resulted in nine DWI violations being charged in the Town of Clayton. A host of other violations such as speeding and careless driving were also charged.

In calculating DWI fines and penalties in the State of North Carolina, many variables, including grossly aggravating, aggravating, and mitigating factors, determine what punishment a driver will receive if arrested and convicted of a DWI, as reported by the University of North Carolina paper called “DWI Sentencing In District Court.”

In Clayton, North Carolina, you'll find two trial courts that hear criminal cases: the Superior Court and the District Court. Clayton utilizes the Johnston County Courthouse, located at 207 East Johnston Street in Smithfield, with an additional location at 303 East Church Street in Benson. If you're confused about the terms you hear in court, you may find this listing of criminal law terms helpful.

The State Superior Court is divided into eight divisions and 46 districts. This trial court hears felony criminal cases, as well as misdemeanor and infraction appeals from District Court. The Superior Court hears civil cases where more than $10,000 is in controversy. North Carolina District Courts are divided into four categories: civil, criminal, juvenile, and magistrate. Like the Superior Court, the District Court sits in the county seat. Civil cases involving less than $10,000 are heard in District Court, as are divorce, custody, and child support matters. The District Court also hears criminal matters involving misdemeanors, infractions without a jury and juvenile cases. A magistrate system is used to take guilty pleas in minor misdemeanors and traffic violations.

The Court of Appeals in Raleigh is NC's only intermediate appellate court. Fifteen judges sit in rotating panels of three, deciding questions of law on every case appealed from the Superior and District courts with the exception of death penalty cases. Appeals can range from a parking ticket case to a murder case. Cases where there is a dissent in the Court of Appeals go to the Supreme Court, as do those that the Supreme Court accepts for review through petition. Court of Appeals judges serve eight-year terms.

The Supreme Court of North Carolina, located in Raleigh, is the state's highest court and there is no further appeal in the state from its decisions. This court has a chief justice and six associate justices who sit together as a panel in Raleigh. The Supreme Court has no jury and makes no determination of fact; rather, it considers error in legal procedures or in judicial interpretation of the law.