In order to secure a conviction for drunk driving in South Carolina, prosecutors must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If prosecutors cannot meet this “burden of proof,” then it doesn’t matter whether or not the defendant was actually drunk behind the wheel. In fact, after the prosecution rests, the defendant doesn’t even need to put on a defense. If the prosecution’s case is insufficient, then the defendant is entitled to a “not guilty” verdict as a matter of law.
So, what does it take for prosecutors to prove a drunk driving charge in South Carolina?
While the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard presents a high burden, prosecutors in South Carolina regularly secure drunk driving convictions. They know what it takes to win in court, and they have the resources they need to get the job done. As a result, if you are facing a drunk driving charge in South Carolina, you need to be prepared to defend yourself, and this starts with understanding what prosecutors must prove in order to convict you.
Proving a DUI Charge
There are two different types of drunk driving charges under South Carolina law. One is called driving under the influence (DUI), and the other is called driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC).
The crime of driving under the influence is defined in Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. This statute provides that:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle . . . while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired . . . .”
If we break South Carolina’s DUI statute down into its “elements,” in order to secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove that:
- You were driving a motor vehicle;
- You were under the influence of alcohol; and,
- Your ability to drive was “materially and appreciably impaired.”
In most DUI cases, whether or not you were driving a motor vehicle won’t be an issue. The vast majority of DUI arrests result from police officers pulling drivers over on South Carolina’s public roads. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you were parked when the police approached your vehicle, then you might have an argument that you were not “driving” for purposes of South Carolina’s DUI law.
In order to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors will most likely try to introduce your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading as evidence in court. However, as you may have noticed, the DUI statute does not require you to have a BAC of 0.08% or above. Thus, if you refused the breath test, if your breath test result is unreliable, or even if you blew below 0.08%, it may still be possible for prosecutors to prove that you were “under the influence” through other means. For example, your arresting officer may testify as to his or her observations, or the officer’s dash camera footage may show you stumbling after you exited your vehicle.
The third element of a DUI charge in South Carolina is material and appreciable impairment. Again, proof of a BAC of 0.08% or above is not required. If you were swerving, if you drifted out of your lane, if you were failing to maintain a consistent speed, if you ran a red light or stop sight, or if you were driving significantly above or below the speed limit, these are all facts that prosecutors may be able to use to prove that you were impaired.
Proving a DUAC Charge
While driving with a BAC of 0.08% or above is not an element of a DUI charge in South Carolina, it is a key element of a charge for DUAC. South Carolina’s DUAC statute, Section 56-5-2933 of the Code of Laws, states:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle within this State while his alcohol concentration is eight one-hundredths of one percent or more. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of the offense of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration . . . .”
Unlike South Carolina’s DUI law, the DUAC law has just two elements. You can be convicted of DUAC if:
- You were driving a motor vehicle; and,
- Your BAC was 0.08% or greater.
Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration is what is known as a “per se” offense. This means that as long as you were driving a motor vehicle and your BAC was 0.08% or above, it doesn’t matter whether your driving ability was impaired. It is simply illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or above.
In order to secure a conviction for DUAC, prosecutors must have reliable evidence of your BAC. If you refused a breath test (potentially in violation of South Carolina’s implied consent law), if your BAC was below 0.08%, or if your BAC reading is unreliable for any reason (and you can prove it), then you should not be at risk for a DUAC conviction. However, for this precise reason, prosecutors will frequently pursue DUI charges even if they have evidence of a high BAC.
Given all of this information, what should you do if you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in South Carolina? At this point, you need to discuss your situation with a defense attorney. There are several possible defenses to both DUI and DUAC charges under South Carolina law, and an experienced defense attorney will be able to evaluate the circumstances of your case to determine what defenses you have available.
Schedule a Free Drunk Driving Defense Consultation in Rock Hill, SC
Are you facing a drunk driving charge in Rock Hill, SC? If so, we can help, and we strongly encourage you to contact us right away. To discuss your case with an experienced South Carolina drunk driving defense lawyer in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or get in touch with us online now.
When you get arrested for a crime in South Carolina, you have an obligation to show up in court. In fact, you may need to appear in court multiple times during your case. So, what happens if you don’t show up? This article covers what you need to know if you miss a court date in South Carolina.
All judges in South Carolina’s court system are extremely busy. They all have case schedules, or dockets, that extend well into the future. The system is structured this way so that defendants can have their cases heard as quickly as possible. As a result, when a defendant misses a court date, this is not simply a matter of rescheduling.
Understanding the Consequences of a “Failure to Appear” in South Carolina
In fact, missing a court date in South Carolina can have severe consequences. If you have missed a court date, the specific consequences you are facing depend on several factors:
Is Your Case Pending in Municipal/Magistrate Court or General Sessions Court?
One of the most significant factors is whether your case is pending in Municipal or MagistrateCourt, or if it is pending in General Sessions Court.
In South Carolina, the Municipal and Magistrate Courts hear cases involving lower-level offenses. This includes traffic offenses and misdemeanors. If you miss a court date in Municipal or Magistrate Court, the most likely outcome is that the judge will find you guilty in your absence.
If you received a traffic ticket, your ticket should state whether you are required to appear in court. However, even if you are not required to appear, failing to appear can still result in a guilty verdict being rendered against you. If you are required to appear, then not only can you be found guilty for the offense cited on your ticket, but you can also face additional consequences for missing your court date. The judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest, and this could result in being taken into custody until your case is fully resolved or your attorney is able to have the bench warrant lifted and get you released.
If your case is pending in General Sessions Court, missing a court date will typically result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. Again, you will be held pending the final outcome of your case unless your attorney is able to get you out.
Are You Out of Jail Awaiting Your Trial Date or Sentencing?
Crucially, if you are out of jail awaiting your trial date or sentencing, failure to appear can also lead to fines and prison time. Under Section 17-15-90 of the South Carolina Code of Laws:
“A person released pursuant to [South Carolina law] who willfully fails to appear before the court as a required must:
“(1) if he was released in connection with a charge for a felony or while awaiting sentencing after conviction, be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both; or(2) if he was released in connection with a charge for a misdemeanor for which the maximum possible sentence was at least one year, be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”
The penalties for failure to appear under Section 17-15-90 are in addition to any penalties you may face as a result of your felony or misdemeanor conviction. In fact, even if you are not ultimately convicted of the crime for which you were required to appear in court, you could still potentially face prison time under Section 17-15-90 as a result of your failure to appear.
Why Did You Miss Your Court Date?
After missing a court date, you will need to do everything you can to mitigate the consequences. If you have a valid reason for failing to appear, this could help you avoid fines, jail time, and a conviction.
For example, if you were unaware of your court date, this could be your best defense. If the notice got lost in the mail, then it isn’t your fault that you failed to appear. However, you will need to be able to convince the judge that this is what happened—not that you simply forgot, misplaced the notice, or didn’t read it carefully.
If you had an emergency, the judge may show some leniency in this scenario as well. With that said, even if you are facing an emergency, you should still do everything you can to notify the court in advance. If you had an opportunity to call the court (or your attorney) and chose not to do so, this will not work in your favor.
Running late because of traffic, missing your court date because you didn’t have a ride, and having something else scheduled generally are not good excuses. You need to make plans to be at the courthouse early, and you need to prioritize your obligation to appear over anything else you might have going on.
What Should You Do if You Missed a Court Date?
So, you missed a court date. What now? At this point, you need to find out what happened in court in your absence. Did the judge find you guilty? Did the judge issue a bench warrant for your arrest? These are facts you need to know.
In order to find out what happened, you should consult with an attorney promptly. Your attorney can obtain the court records from your case, and he or she can advise you regarding your next steps. While you may still have options available, you will need to act quickly to protect yourself, and you will need to make smart decisions based on the advice of experienced legal counsel.
Talk to a Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Confidence
Did you miss a court date in your South Carolina criminal case? Contact us now to speak with a Rock Hill criminal defense lawyer in confidence. Call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online to get a free consultation.
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 Could 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 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. It needs to get cases off of its docket; several 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 programs 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 to complete the program successfully.
5. Asserting Your Constitutional Rights
Even if you committed a crime, you might 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 in 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.
In South Carolina, having a criminal conviction on your record can impact many different aspects of your life. Even once you have served your sentence, your conviction could make it more difficult to find housing or get a loan, and you will likely find that you are passed over for many jobs for which you are otherwise qualified.
As a result, if you are facing a criminal charge, you need to do everything you possibly can to avoid a conviction. While this might mean fighting your charge in court, it could also mean entering into one of South Carolina’s diversion programs.
What is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is an option that is available to criminal defendants in South Carolina who have been charged with certain types of crimes and traffic offenses. When you are enrolled in the program, you will be subject to terms that are similar to the terms of probation. However, if you complete the program successfully, then you will be eligible to have your charge dismissed without the need to go to trial.
Entering into a Diversion Program is a way to ensure that your record remains clean of any convictions—as long as you are prepared to comply with the terms and conditions of the program.
What Diversion Programs are Available to Criminal Defendants in South Carolina?
The State of South Carolina has established four diversion programs that are available to qualifying adult offenders. There is also a Juvenile Arbitration program for minors who have been charged with juvenile offenses.
Alcohol Education Program (AEP)
The Alcohol Education Program (AEP) is a diversion program that is available to individuals between the ages of 17 and 20 who are facing alcohol-related charges as a first-time offender. As explained by the City of Rock Hill:
“The purpose of AEP is to discourage underage drinking and to educate eligible participants as to the potential personal, social and legal risks of alcohol use. You must . . . have no significant prior criminal history, and have been charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Open Container and/or Possession of False Identification. Offenders are only eligible to participate in AEP one time. After completion of the program, [you] may pay a fee for an Expungement Order which will clear [your] record . . . .”
If you enroll in the AEP, you are given 60 days to complete a series of requirements. These requirements include (but may not be limited to): (i) eight hours of counseling, (ii) twenty hours of community service, and (iii) assigned homework. The total fees for the program are approximately $600.
Drug Court is a diversion program that is available to individuals who have been charged with certain drug and alcohol-related offenses. As summarized by the Solicitor’s Office for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (which encompasses York County), “Drug Court is an opportunity for nonviolent criminal offenders, who are dependent on alcohol/other drugs, to receive addiction treatment and rehabilitative services to address dissocial/criminal behavior instead of incarceration.”
The Drug Court program requires participation for a minimum of 18 months; and, in order to enroll, you must receive a referral. This referral can come from your criminal defense attorney. You must also be 17 years of age or older, have a clean criminal record, and have access to reliable transportation. While enrolled, you will be required to stay off of alcohol and drugs, attend education courses and counseling, and meet various other daily requirements.
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is a diversion program that is available to first-time non-violent offenders in South Carolina. Entering the PTI program, “allows the defendant to be diverted from court and enter into a program consisting of counseling, education, community service work, restitution, drug testing, and prison tours.” If you successfully complete your PTI, you can apply for expungement, and at the end of the process your record will be wiped clean.
Participating in a PTI program is an intensive process, and you will need to make sure you have a clear understanding of everything you are required to do (and not do). If you fail to meet any of the program’s requirements, your case can be put back on track for trial, and you will not be eligible to re-enter the program.
Traffic Education Program (TEP)
The Traffic Education Program (TEP) is a diversion program that is available in cases involving traffic tickets that carry four points or less (for all charges combined). In order to enter the program, you must not have a “significant” driving record, and you must not have participated in the program previously. Once you enter the program, you will have 120 days to complete four hours of defensive driving training, complete four hours of community service, pay the required fees, and meet certain other requirements.
The Juvenile Arbitration program affords minors who have been charged with juvenile offenses the opportunity to close their cases without going to court. Similar to PTI, it is available to first-time non-violent offenders. As the Solicitor’s Office for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit explains:
“At the [arbitration] hearing, the juvenile comes face to face with the victim, arresting officer, and his/her parents. Once the juvenile is willing to admit his or her guilt to the crime, a process of sanctioning begins. Sanctions are tasks that are placed upon the juvenile by the volunteer arbitrator with the assistance of the victim, officer, and the juvenile’s parents.”
Once sanctions have been imposed, the juvenile has 90 days to complete them. Similar to the other diversion programs discussed above, successful completion leads to dismissal, while failure to adhere to the terms of the program results in the juvenile’s case going to court.
Discuss Your Options with a Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Confidence
Are you eligible to avoid a conviction by participating in one of South Carolina’s diversion programs? If so, is this your best option? To find out, schedule a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr.Call 803-328-8822 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
If you are facing a criminal charge in South Carolina, there are some steps you need to take in order to give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding a conviction at trial. Most importantly, you need to make sure you show up for your court date, and you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight your charge on your behalf.
But, in addition to taking these steps, there are some things you need to avoid doing as well. Too often, defendants make mistakes that end up making it more difficult to fight their charges in court. If you are not careful, your own words and actions could be used against you, and you could find yourself serving a sentence that could – and should – have been avoided.
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Facing a Criminal Charge in South Carolina
The criminal justice system is complicated; and, as a defendant, you will be at a disadvantage if you don’t know how to assert your legal rights effectively. Mistakes can jeopardize your defense as well, and you need to make sure you know what NOT to do in order to avoid unnecessary consequences. With this in mind, here are five examples of mistakes to avoid when facing a criminal charge in South Carolina:
1. Do NOT Get Arrested Again
First and foremost, if you are awaiting trial on criminal charges, you do not want to get arrested again. While this does not have any bearing on your guilt or innocence in your current case, it could have an impact on your sentencing if you are not able to avoid a conviction. It could also impact the judge’s decision regarding bail.
For example, in many cases, it will be possible for first-time offenders to enter into diversion programs. These programs “divert” your case from trial, and successfully completing a diversion program can help you avoid a criminal record. However, if you get arrested again while your case is pending, the judge, prosecutor, or both may be less inclined to offer this as an option. Additionally, if you get convicted in your current case, then you could be at risk for enhanced penalties in your subsequent case as a repeat offender.
2. Do NOT Say Anything to the Police
As a criminal defendant in South Carolina, you have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions from the police, except for basic questions about your identity and where you live. While you might think that answering a few questions will be harmless – especially if you do not think you have anything to hide – there are several reasons why you do not want to take the risk of talking to the police following your arrest.
What if it is too late? In other words, what if you already gave a statement to the police? In order to determine the consequences, you will need to discuss your statement with your defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to determine what impact (if any) your statement will have on your defense, and he or she will be able to determine if you have grounds to argue that your statement should be excluded from evidence in your case as well.
3. Do NOT Assume You are Innocent
Regardless of the facts of your case, you should not assume that you are innocent. If you do, and if you do not take your case seriously, you could find yourself facing an unexpected sentence. South Carolina’s criminal laws are complicated; and, even if you do not think you committed a crime, it could still be the case that your conduct amounts to a violation of South Carolina law.
Furthermore, even if you are innocent, you will need to successfully defend yourself during the pre-trial process—and at trial if necessary. Wrongful convictions happen (at an alarming rate), and it is up to you to convince the judge or jury that the prosecutor’s office cannot meet its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
4. Do NOT Assume You Will Be Found Guilty
Just as you should not assume that you are innocent, you also should not assume that you will be found guilty. Regardless of what you did or did not do, you could have defenses that entitle you to a “not guilty” verdict at trial. For example, if the police interrogated you in custody and obtained a confession without reading your Miranda rights, then your confession may be inadmissible in court. If the prosecution’s other evidence is insufficient to prove your guilt, then you may be entitled to walk free.
One of the most common misconceptions people have about the criminal justice system is that the truth will prevail if you are innocent, and the system will get you if you are guilty. While this is true in some cases, innocent people get convicted, and guilty people walk free. The outcome of your case will depend on the effort that you put into your defense, and you need to make informed decisions based on the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
5. Do NOT Underestimate the Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Finally, when facing a criminal charge in South Carolina, you must not underestimate the consequences of a conviction. South Carolina law imposes substantial penalties for felonies and misdemeanors, and a conviction can have various collateral consequences as well. Before you make any assumptions or any decisions about how you will approach your defense, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what is at stake, and you need to appreciate what a conviction could mean for the rest of your life.
Request a Confidential Consultation with Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael L. Brown
Are you facing a criminal charge in South Carolina state court in the Rock Hill area? To discuss your case with criminal defense attorney Michael L. Brown in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online now.
If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, you have the right to testify in your own defense at your trial. But, while you can testify at your trial, this does not necessarily mean that you should take the stand. Although testifying can help in some cases, it can also be very risky. As a result, before deciding to proclaim your innocence before the jury in open court, you need to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
As a Criminal Defendant in South Carolina, You Have the Right to Testify
As a defendant in South Carolina’s criminal justice system, whether you choose to testify is completely up to you. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as guaranteeing defendants the right to testify if they choose to do so. As a defendant, you can also waive your right to testify—and this is one right that it will make sense to waive in many cases. As we discuss in greater detail below, you open yourself up to cross-examination by the prosecution if you testify. Various other concerns will make testifying on your own behalf ill-advised in many cases.
What are the Risks of Testifying at Your Own Criminal Trial?
In our experience, most people who want to testify in their own defense fall into one of two categories—either (i) they believe they are innocent and want to tell the jury the truth, or (ii) they are concerned that waiving their right to testify will make them look guilty.
However, several considerations go into deciding whether to testify, and the decision is not nearly as straightforward as it may initially seem. This is true, regardless of your innocence or guilt. For example, some of the risks of testifying at your own criminal trial in South Carolina include:
1. Jurors Might Think You are Lying
Even if you are 100% convinced that you are innocent, the jurors who decide your fate still might not believe you. Unfortunately, despite the protections built into the jury selection system, many jurors are still biased toward believing that someone who is on trial is more likely to be guilty than innocent. So, no matter how well you represent yourself on the witness stand, and no matter how compelling a story you tell, there is still a chance that members of the jury will question your integrity. If they decide that you are lying, then your decision to testify could end up harming your chances of avoiding a conviction.
2. Your Words Might Not Come Across as You Intend
Even if everyone on the jury believes you, your words might not come across as you intend. For example, you might think you are presenting an effective case for why you should walk free, but members of the jury might interpret your words differently. If you are going to testify, you need to be certain of what you are going to say, and you need to be as certain as possible that the jurors will understand and accept your point of view.
3. You Might Slip Up and Say the Wrong Thing
Testifying in court can be stressful even when you are simply a witness in someone else’s trial. When you face months or years of incarceration, taking the stand can be an extremely high-stress ordeal. As a result, in many cases, defendants slip up and say the wrong thing. They get nervous, flustered, or lose their train of thought, and they say things that they never intended to say. While some mistakes can be corrected, it will not be possible to erase what was said from the jurors’ minds in many cases.
4. If You Testify in Your Defense, the Prosecution Can Cross-Examine You
Finally, and most importantly, in many respects, if you choose to testify in your own defense, the prosecution will be able to cross-examine you on the witness stand. You cannot take the stand, answer questions from your attorney, and then refuse to answer the prosecution questions. You still have your Fifth Amendment rights – so you can still assert your privilege against self-incrimination if necessary – but this can potentially paint a very undesirable picture in the minds of the jury.
What are the Benefits of Testifying at Your Criminal Trial?
Knowing these risks, when might it make sense to take the witness stand during your criminal case? Depending on the specific circumstances involved, situations in which testifying can help improve your chances of securing a “not guilty” verdict at trial include:
- You Have an Unassailable Alibi – If you have a clear alibi, then it might make sense for you to take the stand and testify as to where you were and what you were doing when the alleged crime took place.
- You Made Self-Incriminating Statements to the Police – If you made self-incriminating statements to the police during or after your arrest, testifying could help clarify your prior statements and set the record straight.
- The Jury has Turned Against You – If your attorney has the sense that the jury is turning against you, then testifying on your own behalf could be a strategy for getting at least some of the jurors back on your side.
- The Prosecution’s Witnesses Lack Credibility – If the prosecution is primarily relying on witnesses’ testimony to prove its case, then challenging those witnesses’ credibility will likely be a key component of your defense strategy. If you can come off as more credible than the prosecution’s witnesses, then testifying could help to bolster this defense strategy as well.
Discuss Your Case with a Rock Hill, SC Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges in South Carolina? If so, you must speak with a defense attorney immediately. To discuss your case with a criminal lawyer at our Rock Hill, SC law offices in confidence, call 803-328-8822 or request an appointment online now.