Clemson Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you, a loved one, or someone close to you has been arrested for a crime or is under investigation for a crime, it is essential that you or your loved one contact and retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer in Clemson SC. When you have been charged with a crime, it is common to be overwhelmed, stressed, confused, and worried about your future and your freedom. By educating yourself and working with an experienced Clemson, SC criminal defense attorney, you can begin to alleviate those worries. As you work with your criminal defense lawyer to construct a defense, you can begin to learn more about the criminal justice system in South Carolina, empowering yourself, so that you can feel confidence rather than fear.
The Law and the Process of Criminal Defense in Clemson, SC
Before you are arrested and formally charged with a crime, you may be a part of a pre-arrest investigation. In certain cases, you may learn before you are arrested that you are being investigated. If you do, you may (and should) contact a Clemson, SC criminal defense attorney right away to begin the process of mounting a defense. During this period, police may arrive at your door with questions or requests for information. You are under no obligation to speak with any law enforcement officials about anything, so you do not have to answer their questions or even answer the door. You may ask them to leave and inform them that you are exercising your rights to remain silent and to a criminal defense attorney in Clemson, SC.
After the investigation, which you may or may not be aware of, you may be arrested for a crime. Most of us know what this entails: you are placed in handcuffs and taken to a police station for booking. During this process, your fingerprints will be taken, a mug shot will be taken, and you will most likely go through a medical exam at the jail. Once this is complete, usually within 24 hours you will be transferred for a bond hearing. If you have been arrested and have not yet spoken with an attorney, you still do not need to answer any questions or submit to any interrogation without first speaking to a criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, SC. As before, politely inform the police that you are exercising your right to remain silent, that you will not answer any questions, and that you wish to speak to a lawyer.
Once you have been transferred to bond court, you will appear before a magistrate judge who will determine whether you can be released from jail while the allegations of criminal activity against you are still pending. This judge will generally be allowed to see the evidence against you, and to hear arguments from the prosecution and from your Clemson, SC criminal defense lawyer. The judge will make a ruling as to whether you can be released pending trial and the amount at which your bond should be set for release.
As at any point during the criminal process, you have a right to an attorney during this hearing, and it is absolutely crucial that you work with an experienced Clemson, SC criminal defense attorney during this process. A good criminal defense attorney can persuade the magistrate judge to reduce your bond, or release you on your own recognizance (that is, without bond at all), which can save you quite a bit of money.
How Does Bond Work in Clemson SC Criminal Defense Proceedings?
Bond is a deposit which is paid in order to be released from jail. It may be paid to the court directly, and in this case, the bond will be refunded as long as the defendant fulfills all of the responsibilities related to the bond. Bond may also be paid by a bail bondsman, who will usually charge somewhere between 10%-15% of the bond as a fee. This money is not refunded to you, and your bond will be returned to the bondsman as long as you fulfill your obligations and appear at hearings as required. If you do not fulfill all the requirements of your bond, then the bondsman will most likely come looking for you, because if you do not appear as required, the bondsman will not get their money back.
Hearings, Negotiations, and Trials with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Clemson, SC
After your bond hearing, the next time you will appear before a judge may be a preliminary hearing. As a South Carolina criminal defendant, you have the right to a preliminary hearing, and together with your criminal defense attorney, you should request one. These hearings must be requested within ten days of your hearing in bond court, so it is important that you act quickly to consult with and retain the services of a Clemson, SC criminal defense lawyer. These preliminary hearings can be very beneficial to your case as they require the prosecution to provide clear proof before the judge that there was probable cause for your arrest and the charges against you. It affords you, as a defendant, an early opportunity to meaningfully contest the case against you in a court of law. At the hearing’s conclusion, the judge will determine to allow the charges to stand, to modify the charges, or to dismiss the case outright.
Aside from a preliminary hearing, the majority of criminal defense procedure leading up to the trial is negotiation. In South Carolina, and in the US in general, most criminal cases end in a plea bargain, so negotiation is a crucial part of your criminal defense in Clemson, SC. This is yet another reason that it is so important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Clemson, SC working for you, to ensure that any pleas negotiated are as fair and advantageous to you as possible.
The process of plea bargaining is when you, along with your criminal defense lawyer, agree to a plea of guilty and accept a certain sentence without the stress, time, and uncertainty of a trial. In a plea bargain, both sides benefit from the negotiation; as a defendant, you may be able to negotiate lesser charges, with a lesser punishment, in exchange for a guilty plea, and for the prosecutor, a plea of guilty is a guaranteed conviction. Trials come with risk for both sides of a case, so plea bargains can be a good thing for many defendants in Clemson, SC criminal defense cases.
Before your case actually goes to trial, outside of negotiations, the defendant will often attend initial hearings, pretrial conferences, and participate in discovery exchanges and additional investigations. Once these preliminary matters are settled, a process which can, unfortunately, be extended, the case will be prepared to go to trial. The trial date is routinely many months, and sometimes a year or more, after a defendant’s arrest.
Defendants in a criminal defense case may choose a jury trial, in which a verdict is rendered by a jury or a bench trial in which the case is heard and decided solely by a judge. A bench trial may be advantageous in certain situations, but many defendants and criminal defense attorneys in Clemson SC will prefer a jury trial. In the state of South Carolina, there are 12 jurors in general sessions court, and municipal and magistrate cases use a jury of six.
When the case actually goes to trial, each side will put forth the strongest argument they can for the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The prosecution always proceeds first, and the defense follows. After both sides have completed their arguments, presented their evidence, interviewed witnesses, and closing statements have been given, the case will be left in the hands of a jury (or the judge) to render a verdict and decide the case. If you are acquitted and a verdict of “not guilty” is rendered, then the matter is settled, and you will be immediately released. If a “guilty” verdict is rendered, though this may seem like the end, do not lose hope. Together with your Clemson, SC criminal defense attorney, you may appeal the case and continue to fight for your innocence.
Working with a Clemson, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer after a Guilty Verdict: Sentencing and Appeals
Once a jury has given a verdict of guilty, your criminal defense case will enter a separate phase for sentencing. You will appear at a sentencing hearing sometime after your trial, and your sentence will be decided by a judge. At your sentencing hearing in Clemson, SC, your criminal defense lawyer is able to argue for a lower sentence, usually by way of arguments as to your character.
After the sentencing, the good news for you is that you have the right to appeal your guilty verdict. Your Clemson, SC criminal defense attorney should immediately begin working on your appeal, considering all avenues by which your conviction can be reconsidered. This process can take months or years to complete, and unfortunately, it is likely that you will remain in jail during the appeals process.
Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant in South Carolina
Anyone who has seen a single episode of a police procedural drama has probably heard the Miranda Rights. This is the paragraph, beginning with “You have the right to remain silent…” that is famously spoken during arrests in these shows and films. Though you may know how to recite the Miranda rights, it is important that you understand exactly what they mean to you.
Miranda rights are given to a suspect before interrogation or questioning in a criminal defense case in South Carolina. This is to inform suspects that you are not required to say anything which may incriminate you during the interrogation – in fact, you are not required to answer any questions at all. However, simply not talking will not invoke your right to remain silent. Obstinate silence will often only result in further questions and aggravation on the part of the officers. Somewhat ironically, to invoke your right to remain silent, you have to speak. Simply state, politely but firmly, that you are invoking your right to remain silent and wish to speak to a lawyer. Miranda rights require law enforcement to end the interrogation procedure immediately upon hearing this, and may not resume interrogations until a criminal defense attorney is present.
Miranda rights are an important way to minimize intimidation and abusive interrogation techniques by the police, but they do not exactly apply in all situations. Miranda rights exist for a criminal suspect who is in custody and is being interrogated by the police. Outside of this situation, while you certainly have the right to not answer any questions, statements you make outside of interrogation may be used against you.
In some cases, law enforcement has been found to violate a suspect’s Miranda rights. Unfortunately, this does not imply that your case will be immediately dismissed and the charges against you go away. However, it does mean that any statements you made while your rights were being violated will not be allowed as evidence at a trial. This is often a significant detriment to the prosecutor’s case, but if there is sufficient evidence against you, you may still be found guilty.
Consult with a Clemson Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with a crime in Clemson, SC, finding a criminal defense attorney should be on the top of your list. Your South Carolina criminal defense lawyer will help you to navigate the complex legal landscape of criminal defense proceedings so that you can go into every hearing, negotiation, and trial without any undue risks to your case. The criminal defense lawyers serving Clemson, SC at Brumback & Langley are here to advise you and guide you through the entire process. Whether you are under investigation, have just been arrested, are attending a bond hearing, or at any other point in the criminal defense process, don’t take matters into your own hands. Trust a criminal defense lawyer in Clemson, South Carolina, and ensure the highest probability of a favorable ruling.