University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D.

Princeton University, B.A.

Bar & Court Admissions

North Carolina

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

Areas of Practice

Criminal Defense

White Collar Defense



NC Advocates for Justice

Wake County Association of Criminal Trial Lawyers

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Federal Bar Association

Criminal Justice Act Panel, Eastern District of North Carolina

Jim Melo

Jim Melo joined Tin Fulton Walker & Owen in 2018, after many years of managing his own successful firm and multiple associates working under his supervision and direction.

Jim received his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and then attended the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Law. Mr. Melo is a NC bar-certified Federal and State criminal defense specialist. Mr. Melo also practices immigration law. He has done both for over 10 years. Mr. Melo has represented clients in various courts throughout North Carolina and across the country. He has appeared in Federal Court in the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina as well as the Southern District of Florida. Jim has also represented clients in N.C. Court of Appeals and the 4th and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States. Mr. Melo is also licensed to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jim’s criminal experience has ranged from multi-million dollar federal cases for charges of Medicaid fraud and immigration visa fraud, state and federal drug trafficking charges and conspiracies, murder, child pornography, statutory rape, rape, carjacking, armed robbery, illegal re-entry, voter fraud, to less serious charges such as speeding tickets and DWI’s.

A few of Jim Melo’s criminal defense successes include:

  • The published decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals upholding the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
  • A jury finding the client not guilty after deliberating for less than an hour on 18 charges of statutory rape by two different complainants.
  • Dismissal of charges by U.S. Attorney’s office on illegal re-entry charges.
  • Dismissal of charges by Wake County, Nash County, and Durham County for conspiracy to traffic drugs for various clients due to lack of evidence.
  • Dismissal of charges for armed robbery in Durham County for lack of probable cause.
  • A successful petition for compassionate release due to COVID-19 in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Negotiation of multi-million dollar federal criminal Medicaid Fraud case resulting in a successful plea offer that did not affect the client’s immigration status.
  • Negotiation of various federal voter fraud cases resulting in successful deferred prosecution agreements that did not affect the client’s immigration status.
    Melo successfully filed several Writs of Habeas against the Wake County Sheriff’s office and won in each case in relation to the 287(g) program with ICE.

Jim Melo has personal and work experience in the technology industry and has a keen grasp of digital and internet technologies. His experience has proven useful in understanding the complex technologies used by law enforcement agencies in their investigations and evidence.

Due to the ever-increasing demand for an attorney who could handle both criminal and immigration matters as a result of 287(g) and secured communities Jim began dedicating his practice to handling more and more immigration matters. Since 2009, Jim has dedicated himself to handling all immigration matters and those criminal matters that affect his immigration clients. Mr. Melo has also led several trainings for other lawyers throughout the state in regards to the ever-increasing nexus between criminal law and immigration.

Jim has successfully defended numerous clients in removal proceedings, winning asylum cases, cancellation of removal cases, 212(h) cases, and various other forms of relief. In addition, Mr. Melo has helped hundreds of clients obtain bonds from the immigration courts so his clients could return to their families. Mr. Melo has also helped hundreds of clients obtain waivers for their unlawful presence in the United States, thus making them eligible to obtain their legal permanent residency.

Jim handles all immigration matters before United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Department of State, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Administrative Appeals Office, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the 4th and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Jim Melo personally understands and has lived as many of his clients have. His parents and siblings all immigrated from Mexico in the late 1960′s. They were fortunate enough to obtain their legal permanent residence and ultimately their US Citizenship through the Carter administration’s immigration laws. Mr. Melo’s parents came as migrant workers in California and for their first few years picked many of the fruits and vegetables that are abundant in California. Eventually, Mr. Melo’s father was able to gain employment with General Motors in St. Louis, Missouri where he worked the assembly line of the all-time iconic muscle car of the US, the Corvette. In time his family was transferred by GM to Albany, Georgia and his parents opened up several popular and busy Mexican restaurants.

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