Judicial systems are arranged in a hierarchy, from the lower courts all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Do you know how the system is organized in North Carolina?
Here's a closer look into the North Carolina judicial system.
Within the state, there is one Supreme Court, one Court of Appeals, eight Superior Courts, 45 District Courts, and 100 Trial Courts (one for each county). Each successful appeal will bring the case a level higher along the judicial system until it reaches the NC Supreme Court. For first-degree murder, a case can be directly appealed to the Supreme Court from the lower courts.
Criminal cases usually start at the magistrate level, while civil cases are initiated with the clerks of Superior Courts. Appeals on civil verdicts go directly to the Superior Court, but those of criminal verdicts have to go through the District Courts first before moving to the Superior Court. Both civil and criminal appeals eventually move to the Court of Appeals before reaching the Supreme Court.
However, cases like DWI, theft, and embezzlement usually don't reach the higher courts. Appealed cases filed by state agencies normally go to the Court of Appeals immediately for final disposition.