If you or someone you love has been arrested or is facing charges, it’s important to understand the process and know what to expect. An arrest can be a life-altering experience, with the potential for lengthy incarceration, hefty fines, and other court penalties. Beyond this, if convicted, you will face the future with a permanent criminal record, which can hamper educational and career opportunities.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need each step of the way, and here are just a few of the charges we can assist people in South Carolina with.
- Assault & Battery
- Breach of Trust
- Child Neglect
- Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV)
- Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)
- Drug Charges
- Felony DUI
- Hit & Run
- Juvenile Crimes
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Speeding & Traffic Violations
- Theft & Larceny
- Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
- White Collar Crimes
What is an arrest?
An arrest seems to be an intuitively simple concept, but an arrest is the forcible restraint of a person or a person’s submission to the custody of a police officer. If arrested, you have rights that protect you.
What are my rights after I am arrested?
- You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer any questions or stop answering questions at any point.
- You have the right to be read your constitutional rights before being questioned.
- You have the right to consult with an attorney, and if you can’t afford one, the Constitution requires that one be appointed to you.
- You have the right to have your lawyer present during any questioning or at any line-up procedure where any potential eyewitness views you to a crime.
- You have the right to know the reason for your arrest.
- You have a right to notify one person of your arrest and the reason for your arrest, but contrary to popular sentiment, you are not limited to just one telephone call if more are needed to contact that person.
- You have the right to a bond hearing to secure your release from jail.
- You have the right to a preliminary hearing to challenge whether or not there was “probable cause” to arrest you.
- You have the right to a jury trial.
What should I do after I am arrested?
From the beginning to the end, you should be as polite to the arresting officers as you would to your own grandmother. No one has ever been released from custody by being a jerk to the police, and you aren’t going to talk your way out of the arrest or investigation.
Manners do not mean you have to do everything they ask. Remember, they will record your conversation, and they will use everything you say and do against you. Your manners and cooperation should draw a line between compliance and incrimination.
What happens after I am arrested?
After your arrest, you have the right to a bond hearing to set the amount of bail. Bail is the posting of cash, property, or other security to make sure you return to court, and you have the right to an attorney during your bond hearing.
In setting your bail, the judge is weighing two considerations: (1) are you a flight risk; and (2) are you a risk of harm to the community. If the judge finds these two probabilities low, you will be released on your own “personal recognizance” (also called a PR Bond).
If you are not released on personal recognizance, the court will set the amount of money and other conditions of your release. When the amount of money is set, there are two ways to post bail: (1) cash (or property) or (2) a professional bondsman.
If you post your own cash (or property), it will be returned to you at the conclusion of your case, whether you are found guilty or innocent. But, a bondsman will charge you a fee to secure your return to court, but this fee will not be refunded at the end of your case.
In South Carolina, you have the right to a preliminary hearing, and you have ten days after your bond hearing to request it. If you do not request a preliminary hearing, you waive that right.
At the preliminary hearing, a judge will determine if there was “probable cause” to arrest you. The state must show that it has enough evidence to support the belief that you committed a crime to establish probable cause. If there is not enough evidence, your case will be dismissed.
Discovery and Pretrial
Discovery is the next step in the process. During this step, the state and the defense exchange evidence and other information. In South Carolina, you have the right to all evidence in possession of the prosecution. You are entitled to witness statements, photographs, documents, and results from experiments or tests. More important than that, you are entitled to the disclosure of any evidence of your innocence too, which is called exculpatory evidence.
This stage is also the time that the prosecution and your attorney may attempt to negotiate a plea bargain or other agreement.
If your attorney and the prosecution can’t reach an agreement, your case will go to trial, but in South Carolina, most cases take several months to a year before the court sets a trial date.
Keep in mind that the burden is on the state to prove your guilt, and they must show that “beyond all reasonable doubt.” Every person is presumed innocent unless they plead guilty or are proven guilty at trial.
Contact our Simpsonville Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing all of this, you should seek the most effective legal help you can find to give yourself the best chance. To discuss your options and find out more about how we can help you, contact our experienced criminal defense attorney at (864) 757-0757 today.
We provide free initial consultations and a variety of payment structures to fit every client’s needs.