If you have been charged with a DUI, drug charge, assault charge, or any other crime in South Carolina, it’s an incredibly stressful experience, but it’s important to know that you have legal rights that are well worth fighting for and that you are not alone. An experienced Moncks Corner criminal defense lawyer can help.
We handle criminal cases such as:
- DUI, Drunk Driving Defense, DUAC, DUI with Death
- Traffic cases, Hit and Run
- Burglary, Armed Robbery and Strong Arm Robbery
- Assault and Battery, Domestic Violence
- Murder, Attempted Murder
- Narcotics Charges, Drug Possession
- Weapons Possession and Gun Charges
- White Collar Crime, Fraud, Breach of Trust, Embezzlement
- Theft, Larceny, Receiving Stolen Goods, Stolen Property Crimes
Reaching out for professional legal counsel at West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers is always in your best interest.
Pre-Arrests Investigation in South Carolina
If you have not been arrested but are being questioned in relation to an alleged crime, you have the constitutional right to remain silent — provided to you by the Fifth Amendment — and the best policy is to avail yourself of this right.
You also have the right to an attorney, provided to you by the Sixth Amendment. Now is the right time to make this happen. If the police are questioning you, they almost certainly believe you committed a crime or were involved in a crime, and they are adept at coaxing damaging statements out of interviewees like you.
Remaining silent and requesting an attorney is an excellent starting position.
The Charge, Booking, and Bond
If you are charged, you’ll likely be arrested and transported to the local jail or detention center. Here, you’ll be booked, which generally means the following:
- You will be fingerprinted
- Your mug shot will be taken
- The personal possessions on you will be taken from you and recorded
- The jail’s medical staff may evaluate you
Within 24 hours of arrest, you’ll likely appear in front of a magistrate judge at bond court. Here, the judge will determine if you will be released from jail while your case is pending, and any conditions on your release will be set, which often include posting a cash bond with the court and may include other requirements.
Preliminary Hearings in South Carolina
If you are charged with a crime in South Carolina, you’ll likely have the right to request a preliminary hearing, which must be made within 10 days of your bond court date. The preliminary hearing is an opportunity to go before a magistrate judge, who will determine whether it is more likely than not that a crime was committed and whether it is more likely than not that you committed it.
The judge can either allow the charge to proceed, dismiss the case for lack of evidence, or modify the charge. The prosecution, however, has the discretion to continue with the case regardless if it so chooses.
The preliminary hearing is, however, an excellent opportunity to have the other side go on the record in terms of what occurred during the investigation process, which can prove very important as your case proceeds.
Pre-Trial Discovery and Beyond
From here, you’ll enter pre-trial discovery, in which your criminal defense attorney will prepare your strongest defense. They will obtain the prosecution’s evidence against you and any evidence that tends to promote your innocence.
Sometimes, negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution for a reduced charge or sentence is a good option, but this is not always the case. During this stage of your case, there may also be preliminary motions for matters such as the following:
- To reduce your bond amount
- To resolve any discovery disputes that arise
- To enforce subpoenas issued to witnesses
- To suppress evidence against you that was obtained illegally
Your case will be unique to the charge brought against you and the specific circumstances involved, but understanding the basics as they relate to the process can help.
If your case does go all the way to trial, you have the right to a jury of your peers. If you are charged in Municipal or Magistrate court, you will likely have a 6-member jury. If you are charged in a higher court, you will likely face a 12-person jury. For you to be convicted or found not guilty of the charge in question, the jurors must unanimously agree on your guilt or innocence.
During the trial process, you have a wide range of legal rights that should be fiercely protected, and this is a job that is best left in the capable hands of a dedicated criminal defense lawyer.
Consult With an Experienced Moncks Corner Criminal Defense Lawyer
West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, is a family firm that takes great pride in its strong ties to the community and its impressive track record of serving the people of Moncks Corner through several generations.
E. Mason West is our firm’s formidable criminal defense lawyer, and his impressive track record speaks to his unwavering commitment to his clients and their legal rights. Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony, it can have serious consequences for your future, which makes bringing your strongest legal defense paramount.
FAQs About Facing Criminal Charges
Can I get by without a lawyer?
Without a lawyer defending your rights, you are far more likely to face unfavorable consequences that could haunt your future. Now is not the time to wing it.
Is a misdemeanor really a big deal?
Many people think of misdemeanors as not much more than a slap on the wrist, but the fact is that these charges are criminal charges that can lead to serious fines and up to a year in jail. Further, having a criminal conviction on your record can directly affect your future, which makes it in your best interest to fight the charge.
Why is remaining silent so important?
If the police are questioning you, they very likely have already made up their minds about your guilt in the matter, and they’re very skilled at eliciting statements that go on to harm those who make them. Remaining silent is a much better option.