What Does It Mean to Be Charged With a Crime?

Being charged with a crime in South Carolina can be an overwhelming experience, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the legal process. This comprehensive guide explains the steps involved in the criminal court process and how a Greenville criminal defense lawyer can help you.

Contact Baldwin Law today for help with your case.

The Arrest

An arrest usually begins with law enforcement officers gathering evidence and establishing probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. Probable cause can be based on observations, witness statements, or other evidence indicating that a person has committed a crime.

If law enforcement officers have enough evidence, they can obtain an arrest warrant from a judge or magistrate. The warrant authorizes the arrest of the individual suspected of committing a crime. Law enforcement officers can arrest a person without a warrant if they have witnessed the crime.

After the arrest, the individual must be informed of their Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.


Following the arrest, the next step is the bail process. In South Carolina, a bond court judge sets the defendant’s bail amount.

Bail is a legal agreement that allows a defendant to be released from custody while awaiting trial. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will appear in court as required and not flee the jurisdiction.

Types of Bail in South Carolina

In South Carolina, bail can be categorized into three distinct types: personal recognizance, cash bail, and surety bail.

Personal recognizance involves the defendant’s release from custody without any financial payment. Instead, they sign a written agreement promising to appear in court on the specified date. This form of bail is generally applicable to non-violent offenses and first-time offenders.

Cash bail requires the defendant to settle the entire bail amount. This form of bail is typically demanded for more severe offenses. This leads thereto that the bail amount can be considerably high.

In the case of surety bail, a bail bondsman steps in to pay the defendant’s full bail amount, charging a fee for this service. This fee is typically a predetermined percentage of the total bail. To secure the bond, the bondsman may request collateral.

The Bond Hearing

The process of bail commences with a bond hearing. During this hearing, a judge will establish the bail amount that needs to be posted for the defendant’s release from custody. In addition to setting the bail amount, the judge may also stipulate certain conditions for the defendant’s release, such as house arrest or electronic monitoring.

you need a good criminal defense lawyer if you are arrested for a crime

Filing of Motion

After bail has been posted, your criminal defense attorney will submit a motion to the court. This motion will request that the court require law enforcement officers and the prosecutor to disclose the evidence against you.

Once your defense team has this evidence, they can begin the process of building your defense strategy.

Court Appearances

Your first court appearance, also known as an arraignment or advisement hearing, is a crucial step in the criminal process.

During this hearing, you’ll be informed of the charges against you and your constitutional rights. The judge will provide you with a copy of the criminal complaint, make an initial probable cause determination, and cover administrative issues. You’ll also be advised of your right to remain silent and your right to counsel. The court will set or modify conditions of release if eligible and set future proceedings.

The second court appearance is the stage at which you will submit a plea or express your desire to proceed to trial. It’s important to note that initial appearances are to take place within 45 days of arrest.

Final Resolution of Your Case

Your criminal case could be resolved in several ways. The Solicitor’s Office may dismiss a case based on a lack of evidence. Charges may be dismissed for qualifying defendants who enter a pre-trial intervention program.

The prosecutor and your criminal defense lawyer may reach a plea agreement that reduces the charges or sentence. If the charges aren’t dismissed and an agreement isn’t reached, the case will go to trial before a jury.

Who Brings Criminal Charges?

In South Carolina, law enforcement agencies such as Sheriff’s offices, municipal police departments, and the S.C. Highway Patrol investigate alleged criminal activity and arrest those suspected of breaking the law. Law enforcement brings criminal charges in South Carolina.

Role of the Solicitor’s Office

The Solicitor’s Office reviews charges brought by law enforcement. After an arrest is made, charges that are to be tried in General Sessions Court are referred to the Solicitor’s Office for prosecution.

Call a Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in South Carolina and needs legal assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Baldwin Law. Call our office at 864-630-8503 for a free case evaluation. We serve the counties of Greenville, Pickens, Anderson, Oconee, and Laurens.

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