We are Passionate About Defending Our Clients Against Criminal Charges.
Summerville Criminal Defense Lawyer Beau Seaton devotes a significant amount of his time to helping people who are charged with crimes in South Carolina.
Beau Seaton has over 20 years of experience as a Summerville criminal defense attorney and has strong relationships with the local courts, judges, and prosecutors.
If you are charged with a crime in South Carolina, you are up against the overwhelming and sometimes crushing power of law enforcement.
Get a Summerville criminal defense lawyer on your side now who will fight for you and who will do everything that is legally and ethically within his power to win your case.
Understanding Criminal Charges in South Carolina
A Brief Overview of South Carolina’s Criminal Courts
South Carolina has several types of courts, including civil, criminal, family, administrative, and appellate courts.
When a person is accused of violating South Carolina’s criminal laws, they are charged and prosecuted in one of South Carolina’s criminal courts, and, if they are convicted, they can then file an appeal to a higher appellate court.
Depending on where the person is charged (city or county) and the severity of the offense, their case could be heard in the magistrate court, the municipal court, or the Court of General Sessions.
South Carolina’s Circuit Court is split into two parts – the criminal side (General Sessions) and the civil side (Common Pleas).
Avoid a conviction at all costs! If you are lucky enough to be charged with a drug crime that carries what you consider to be a light sentence, don’t roll over and plead guilty without a fight.
An experienced drug crime attorney can analyze your case and put together a defense strategy focused on minimizing the negative effects you will feel. In some cases your charge may be dismissed all together! While this definitely isn’t guaranteed, it is possible if certain mistakes were made during the investigation or prosecution of your case.
South Carolina’s Magistrate and Municipal Courts
In most cases where the potential penalty is 30 days or less, the defendant will be charged in the magistrate court (if they are arrested in the county) or the municipal court (if they are arrested within city limits).
In either case, you will be given an “initial court date” where, if you don’t have an attorney present, you may be expected to plead guilty or get a “bench trial” with no jury (where you will most likely be found guilty).
Your attorney will either 1) request a jury trial before your initial court date or 2) appear on your behalf and request a jury trial if your case cannot be resolved.
You will later be notified of a roster meeting or pretrial conference date where your case will be resolved or scheduled for a jury trial.
General Sessions Court in South Carolina
In most cases where the potential penalty is greater than 30 days in jail, the defendant will be charged in General Sessions Court.
In General Sessions Court, a circuit solicitor is assigned to prosecute each case, the procedures are more involved than in the lower courts, and the stakes are typically much higher, with punishments ranging from probation to life in prison when a person is convicted.
At the outset, you will be assigned two “roll call” dates, that may be called your first and second docket appearance. If you do not appear on these days, and if you have not been excused by the prosecutor, they will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. However, an attorney can get you excused from these roll calls with proper notice.
Most people can expect to have a bond hearing within 48 hours after their arrest – usually the morning after but sometimes on the same day.
If you are charged with a serious General Sessions Court charge, however, a circuit court judge must set your bond. This means that you will remain in jail without a bond until your attorney files a motion to set bond and a hearing is scheduled in General Sessions Court.
Burglary 1st degree is an exception to this rule – magistrates are allowed to set bonds for burglary charges even though they carry up to life in prison.
They are very good at what they do! Go see them today and be worry free!
– Kipp Cavadias
Great Lawyer, will definitely use again when needed. Thank You Beau!
– Charles McGee
He truly cares about his clients!! A wonderful lawyer!!
– Lamarr Richardson
* The Rules of Professional Conduct require disclosure that this is a “Testimonial” about the attorney. Please be aware that any result achieved on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
Four (4) Things to Consider If You’re
Facing a Criminal Charge in South Carolina
1. Get a Summerville criminal defense lawyer on your case immediately.
If you are 1) being investigated for a crime or 2) have been arrested and charged with a crime in South Carolina, get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case as soon as possible.
The State, with a fully staffed solicitor’s office, police department, police department investigators, solicitor’s office investigators, and sometimes SLED’s involvement, is already preparing a case against you.
You need attorneys and investigators on your side to help you prepare your defense or to mitigate the potential consequences of the offense.
2. Investigation and mitigation.
Your attorney has a duty to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations against you and your potential defenses, which could include:
- Locating and interviewing potential defense witnesses,
- Locating, interviewing, and gathering potential impeachment material on potential state’s witnesses,
- Independent forensic examinations of crime scene evidence or test results, and
- Identifying and researching the potential legal issues that may arise in your case including how to admit favorable evidence and how to exclude damaging or irrelevant evidence.
3. Plea or trial?
Should you plead guilty or take your case to trial?
No attorney can conclusively answer that question for you until they have investigated both the facts and the law that will be applied to your case.
Are you guilty? Maybe, but there are shades of guilt. Consider:
- Can the State prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt?
- Does the punishment you may receive really fit the crime?
- Is there a lesser included offense that might be a more appropriate resolution in your case?
- Do you have mitigation that could result in dismissal, pretrial diversion, or a lesser sentence if it is presented to the solicitor or the court?
4. Collateral consequences.
A criminal conviction may carry collateral consequences that the prosecutor, officer, and court may not tell you about when they are trying to get you to plead guilty.
- Loss of your Second Amendment right to own or carry a firearm,
- Loss of your right to obtain or keep certain occupational licenses,
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation,
- Inability to obtain financial aid for school,
- Expulsion from a university or college,
- Inability to obtain public housing,
- Job loss or difficulty finding meaningful employment due to a criminal record,
- A permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged,
- Sex offender registry or monitoring requirements, or
- Classification as a sexually violent predator (and incarceration for life under South Carolina’s “civil” SVP laws).
Consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you make any decisions about how to proceed with your criminal charges.
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Let’s discuss the details of your case and see if we can help.