Being charged with a crime in South Carolina initiates a series of legal procedures. Facing criminal charges is an overwhelming and frightening experience. In this blog, we break down the criminal justice process step-by-step from arrest through trial.
Our dedicated and aggressive Greenville criminal defense lawyer at Baldwin Law will vigorously fight for you and defend your rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
1. Arrest and Charges
The criminal process begins with an arrest, which is carried out if law enforcement believes there’s probable cause that a crime has been committed. The individual is then taken into custody and an arrest record is created, detailing the circumstances of the arrest.
Charges are then filed, outlining the alleged offenses. It’s vital to consult with an experienced Greenville criminal defense attorney at this stage to protect your rights and build a solid defense.
After being arrested, individuals may seek bail—a monetary amount paid to secure release from custody. In South Carolina, within 48 hours of an arrest, the accused is brought before a magistrate. The magistrate then sets the bail amount and any additional conditions for release.
These conditions could be things like finding someone to vouch for you, having someone keep an eye on you, limiting where you can go, who you can be with, or where you can live. The court can add any other rules they think are needed to make sure you show up when you’re supposed to.
South Carolina Code Section 17-15-10 governs the bail process. This article explains the different types of bail in more detail.
After your initial bail has been set by a magistrate, you have the right to request a modification of your bail amount. It’s recommended that you have a criminal defense attorney file this motion on your behalf and represent you at the hearing.
Your first court appearance, also known as an arraignment or advisement hearing, is a crucial step in the criminal process. At the arraignment, the defendant is formally informed of the charges against them and their rights.
You’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead not guilty, the case moves to pre-trial proceedings.
4. Pre-Trial Proceedings
- Discovery: Both the prosecution and defense exchange evidence and information.
- Motions: Attorneys may file motions to request specific actions or decisions from the court.
- Plea Bargaining: The prosecution and your Greenville criminal defense attorney may negotiate a plea deal to resolve the case without going to trial.
If a plea agreement isn’t reached, the case proceeds to trial. The prosecution and defense present their cases, call witnesses, and introduce evidence. A judge or jury determines the guilt or innocence of the accused.
6. Judgment and Sentencing
If the accused is found guilty, the judge pronounces the sentence. The sentence could range from a fine to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crime and other factors.
If convicted, you have the right to appeal the verdict or sentence. The appeals process involves reviewing legal procedures and decisions made during the trial.
Call a Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
This is a general overview and the actual process may vary depending on the specifics of the case and the charges involved. It’s crucial to consult with a Greenville criminal defense lawyer who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances.