If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, the last thing you want to do is assume that you are guilty. No matter what charge you are facing, a conviction will have severe consequences, and you need to fight your charge by all means available.
But, what if you are guilty? What if you committed a crime and you got caught? Should you still hire a criminal defense attorney; and, if so, what can a lawyer do to help?
7 Ways a Lawyer Can Help You if You Committed a Crime in South Carolina
Even if you committed a crime, you are not guilty until either (i) you plead guilty, or (ii) you are found guilty in court. This is very important to remember. The presumption of innocence always applies, and it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
But, let’s say you did something illegal, and there is a good chance that the prosecution will be able to collect the evidence it needs to secure a conviction. Here are seven ways a criminal defense lawyer can still help to minimize the consequences of your arrest:
1. Representing You During Your Pre-Trial Proceedings
There are several steps in a criminal case in the South Carolina courts. This includes steps that require you to appear in court before your trial date. If you appear in court on your own, you could very easily make mistakes that will make it much more difficult to minimize your sentence or avoid a conviction.
Of course, you also need to appear in court when you are required to do so. If you miss a court date, this can have severe consequences as well—including the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. Your criminal defense lawyer can help make sure you appear in court when you are supposed to, and your lawyer can represent you during all pre-trial proceedings so that you do not inadvertently make mistakes that jeopardize your defense.
2. Seeking a Reduced Charge
Under South Carolina law, there are several different “classes” of felonies and misdemeanors. One way a lawyer may be able to help if you have committed a crime is by negotiating with the prosecution to secure a lesser charge. Lesser charges carry lesser penalties; and, if you are awaiting trial on a felony, reducing your charge to a misdemeanor could save you from many undesirable consequences.
To be clear, this is not an option in all cases. If prosecutors believe they have a strong case, they may not be willing to consider a charge reduction. But, the only way to find out is to hire a lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will be able to examine the circumstances of your case to determine if this is a viable strategy; and, if it is, your attorney will be able to use his or her experience to negotiate on your behalf.
3. Seeking a Reduced Sentence
In South Carolina, all crimes carry a range of possible sentences. If it is not possible to get your charge reduced (or have your charge dismissed entirely), then the next best option may be to focus on reducing your sentence.
This is something that your criminal defense lawyer can do during the pre-trial phase of your case as well. Whether the circumstances of your case warrant a mitigated sentence or the prosecutor’s office is overloaded and simply needs to get cases off of its docket, there are a number of potential strategies for targeting a reduced sentence in South Carolina.
4. Helping You Seek Entry Into a Diversionary Program
If this is your first time being charged with a crime, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you seek entry into one of South Carolina’s diversionary programs. These are programs that allow eligible first-time offenders to avoid a conviction regardless of guilt—if they meet certain conditions.
If you are eligible for a diversionary program—and if this appears to be the only way to avoid a conviction based on the facts of your case—you will want to work with a lawyer to gain entry into the appropriate program. Your lawyer can also tell you what you need to do in order to complete the program successfully.
5. Asserting Your Constitutional Rights
Even if you committed a crime, you may be entitled to an acquittal if the police violated your constitutional rights. For example, if the police violated your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the prosecution’s evidence may be inadmissible, and it may have no way to convict you. An experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer can determine whether your rights were violated and assert all available constitutional defenses on your behalf.
6. Carefully Selecting the Jurors Who Will Hear Your Case
In a jury trial, one of the first steps is to select the jurors who will hear your case. This is a strategic process, and there are many different factors to consider when narrowing down the list of potential jurors. With the right jury, you can reduce your risk of facing a conviction and harsh sentencing at trial.
7. Challenging the Prosecution’s Case in Court
Finally, if going to trial is your best option, your criminal defense lawyer can challenge the prosecution’s case I court. Your lawyer can expose flaws in the prosecution’s case, present evidence on your behalf, and argue for a “not guilty” verdict in front of the judge and jury. Making an effective case at trial requires years of legal experience, and an experienced lawyer will be able to guide your case toward a favorable result—taking into consideration the circumstances at hand.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael L. Brown, Jr.
Are you facing a criminal charge and concerned that you will be found guilty in court? If so, you should speak with a lawyer promptly. To discuss your case with Rock Hill, SC criminal defense lawyer Michael L. Brown, Jr., please call 803-328-8822 or contact us online today.