Criminal Law in South Carolina
Fortunately, many South Carolina criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations so you can communicate and ask questions before making a hiring decision. To find a criminal defense lawyer, contact the local bar association for a referral or Google “How to find a South Carolina criminal defense attorney.”
- You need an attorney who is licensed in South Carolina.
- You need a lawyer, who focuses his or her legal practice on criminal defense.
Your defense attorney will explain how to post bail, analyze your criminal case, create effective legal strategies, and robustly defend you in court or during plea agreement negotiations.
If you have been arrested (or likely will be arrested) for a South Carolina crime, this article was written for you.
Because jail time may be possible and your entire future is at stake, we’ll discuss:
- South Carolina criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in South Carolina; and
- How to work with your South Carolina criminal defense attorney.
South Carolina Criminal Laws
Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from harm.
South Carolina criminal laws are found in the South Carolina Code of Laws – Title 16. The Code include sall state crimes, including stalking, trespass, assault, burglary, falsifying evidence, DUI, arson, writing bad checks, money laundering, disorderly conduct, rape, bigamy, incest, arson, kidnapping, elder abuse, lewd conduct, embezzlement, and child abuse.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations limits the time period during which a legal case can be filed. While South Carolina has statutes of limitation for civil cases, there are no statutes of limitation in criminal cases.
This means that charges stemming from criminal action or inaction can be brought at any time, even if many years have passed since the incident.
South Carolina has sentencing guidelines that are used by judges when handing down sentences after a conviction.
- The sentencing guidelines provide uniform and proportional sentences for convicted criminals.
- The goal is to avoid criminal punishment based upon an individual’s race, gender, or exercise of Constitutional rights.
The specific sentence is based upon your criminal history, severity of the crime, and the circumstances of the crime.
- Circumstances that will increase the penalty are “aggravating” circumstances. For example, violence, a rap sheet, and additional crimes committed will increase punishment.
- Circumstances that will lessen the penalty are “mitigating” circumstances. For example, the death sentence can be avoided if mitigating circumstances such as mental retardation are present.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
If youor a loved one is being questioned about or has been arrested for a crime in South Carolina, everything is at risk – your future, well being, family, liberty, money, and life.
- Ask to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer.
- Asking for an attorney doesn’t indicate that you’ve done anything wrong.
- Regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty, you need to be represented by a South Carolina defense lawyer.
- Do not speak with the police except to provide your name and ask for an attorney.
- Be honest and open with your attorney, even if what you have to say looks bad.
How to Work with a South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer
Everything your lawyer asks of you, suggests to you, and any other actions he or she takes is to represent you and put forth the best and strongest defenses.
Always keep this in mind when you choose how to act or react. You need to be a team player in your own defense.
This is what you need to do:
- Follow your lawyer’s advice.
- Explain what happened to your attorney – include the details you’d rather forget because they make you look bad.
- Return all phone calls or emails immediately.
- Provide all requested information right away.
- If your phone number or address changes, update your attorney immediately.
- Answer your attorney’s questions, even if they challenge or anger you.
- Be polite and know everything your attorney does is for your best interests, even if you don’t understand at the time.
For example, it is professional and appropriate for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with witnesses, the alleged victim, police officers, investigators, and the district attorney (prosecutor).
Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or accused of a crime in South Carolina, you need aqualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Whether innocent or guilty, you need legal representation. There is too much at stake to take a “wait and see” approach.
Your next step is to call a South Carolina criminal defense attorney now.