What happens when you are arrested in South Carolina?
Arrested in Charleston, South Carolina?
If you or a family member have been arrested in Charleston, SC it’s probably for the first time. Being subjected to the criminal justice system can be confusing and leave you fearful of what’s going to happen if you don’t get help. If you are facing this situation the best advice is to retain a Charleston criminal defense attorney that can help guide you through the process and advise you what’s going to happen and what to do. Typically, the arrest is the first step in a long process and knowledge can be power in helping you understand your rights and how you can deal with the arrest.
An arrest can develop under many circumstances. It could be from a traffic stop and a search of your vehicle, a search warrant that was executed on your home, police responding to a 911 call, or the end of an extensive investigation where law enforcement simply place you under you under arrest from your job or home. Following your arrest you may be read your Miranda warnings, but not always (this does not always mean the police violated your rights), then you’re taken to the county jail where you are booked, photographed (mug shot), fingerprinted, and sit in jail until you appear in front of a bond judge. If you can’t make bail, then you stay there until the case is resolved or you maxed out the time for that particular charge. Rule number one in any situation like this is to call a Charleston criminal defense lawyer. Do this before you give any statements to police. This is a constitutional right that you are entitled too and can be one of the most important decisions you make that can greatly affect the outcome of your case.
The Bond Hearing
Most times you are given a bond hearing within 24 – 48 hours of your arrest. Again, this is a situation where you should consult an attorney for representation as the judge makes the decision of whether you receive a bond or are to remain in jail. A magistrate judge will set your bond initially and if your charges are more serious and carry a potential of life sentence then they will defer setting a bond and a circuit judge will hold the bond hearing.
In either situation, the court will consider whether you are a danger to the community or a flight risk. Your criminal history will be considered and the ties to the community, if any.
When you are charged with a general sessions crime you can request a preliminary hearing in your case. A preliminary hearing is the first chance the defense gets to challenge the facts of the case. At this stage, the standard is not the same as in a trial (reasonable doubt) in fact it’s very low for the prosecution which means that the case will likely go forward. All your doing at this stage is challenging whether the police had probable cause to make the arrest. So, why do it? Because it’s the first bite of the apple for the defense and you get to cross examine an officer involved in the case while they are under oath. The possible outcomes from a preliminary hearing range from:
- No change and the case goes forward as charged;
- A reduction in the charge;
- Case dismissed.
When you are arrested for s general sessions charge, all charges from that week are given the same first appearance date which is 45 days following your arrest. What happens at a first appearance depends on the county in which you are charged. Some counties allow the defendant to skip the first appearance if they have a retained attorney, while some prosecutor’s demand that the defendant appear no matter what or they will issue a bench warrant for their failure to appear. This is one of the reasons that it is critical to retain a Charleston criminal defense lawyer in your case so they can advise you on these first appearance date requirements.
This is typically the same as the first/initial appearance but can be different depending what county you are charged in. Just as the first appearance, it is important to retain a lawyer by this stage of the case.
Charleston Criminal Defense Attorney
Call me today at (843) 530-7813 with any questions or concerns if you have been arrested in Charleston, SC, you will speak directly to an experienced Charleston criminal defense lawyer about your case. The consultation is free and all discussions are confidential.