South Carolina Criminal Lawyer

Being arrested for a criminal offense in South Carolina can be stressful, as the personal, professional, and legal ramifications can be harsh.  Fortunately, the prosecution has the challenging burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  With experienced legal guidance, you could find weakness in the prosecution’s case and build a strong defense against it.

Criminal convictions can result in lengthy periods of incarceration, substantial fines, or both.  Therefore, retaining a seasoned South Carolina criminal lawyer could be essential to protecting your rights and developing an aggressive defense strategy.  Do not hesitate to contact an accomplished defense attorney as soon as you believe you are suspected of an illegal act.

Criminal Court Appearance and Venues

The Circuit Court (General Sessions), Magistrate Court, or Municipal Court hear criminal cases, but the Municipal and Magistrate Courts (Summary Courts) generally handle matters with penalties not exceeding a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.  Most of these cases involve minor ordinance violations and traffic offenses.

South Carolina is divided into 16 judicial districts (circuits), each having a Circuit Court that is the venue for most criminal matters.  A circuit solicitor or assistant solicitor is designated to prosecute these cases.

Defendants under the age of 17 will appear in a Juvenile Court, which is typically handled by a judge from the local family court. Children of 16 or 17 years of age arrested for A, B, C, or D felony offenses can be charged as adults.  Otherwise, the child faces allegations of delinquency.  Regardless of the type of offense a person is accused of committing, it is imperative they retain a well-practiced defense attorney in South Carolina.

What is the Initial Criminal Case Process?

An individual suspected of a crime may be arrested and released after a bond hearing.  The person should receive an order to appear in either General Sessions Court, Municipal or Magistrate Court.  At the bond hearing for a criminal charge, the defendant will hear the charges and made aware of their right to legal counsel based on the Sixth Amendment.

For more serious offenses, an individual may be arrested by law enforcement for suspicion of committing a crime or resulting from an arrest warrant issued by a court and held in custody awaiting a bond hearing (must occur within 24 hours of arrest).  In either scenario, contacting a criminal defense attorney should be the priority.  A South Carolina lawyer could help someone facing a criminal charge understand their rights and responsibilities from the outset of the case.

Levels of Criminal Offenses in South Carolina

Crimes in South Carolina are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies, according to S.C. Code Unann. §16-1-20. The severity of the offense and maximum term of incarceration imposed are as follows:

  • Class A felony is punishable by up to 30 years
  • Class B felony is punishable by up to 25 years
  • Class C felony is punishable by up to 20 years
  • Class D felony is punishable by up to 15 years
  • Class E felony is punishable by up to 10 years
  • Class F felony is punishable by up to five years
  • Misdemeanors offenses have A, B, or C class and carry a one to three year maximum

In addition to maximum terms, some offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  A South Carolina criminal defense attorney could explain what potential penalties a defendant could be facing.

Speak to a South Carolina Criminal Attorney

Members of law enforcement and the judicial system continue to heighten their efforts to prevent crime and escalate the penalties imposed on offenders.  People accused of severe infractions often face life-altering consequences that include incarceration, substantial fines, as well as personal and professional challenges. Based on this reality, securing knowledgeable defense counsel is critical.

Regardless of whether you face allegations such as drug charges, a theft offense, or a violent crime, having an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases is imperative.  Those charged with violating the law should consult with an experienced South Carolina criminal lawyer right away.  Call now to schedule your initial case consultation.