If you have been arrested in South Carolina, it is important for you to understand what will happen next. Being arrested is a serious matter, and while it does not necessarily mean that you will be charged with a crime, it does mean that you need to be extremely careful and make informed decisions in order to protect yourself. The following is an overview of the criminal justice process after an arrest in South Carolina. For a confidential, one-on-one consultation with a Rock Hill, SC criminal lawyer, call 803-328-8822 now.
What Should You Expect After You are Arrested in South Carolina?
1. ReadingYourMiranda Rights
At the time of your arrest, the arresting officer might read your Miranda rights. However, it is also possible that the police will not read you your rights – if at all – until you are taken in for questioning. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, the police are only required to read a suspect’s rights prior to conducting “custodial interrogation,” and this can mean different things under different circumstances.
As a result, you should pay close attention to when – and if – the police read you your rights. If you are interrogated in custody without being given the Miranda warning, then your statements to the police may be inadmissible in court.
2. Booking at the Police Station or County Jail
Once you are arrested, you will be taken in for booking. You can either be booked at the local police station or at the county jail. The booking process creates a formal record of your arrest, and typically involves the following procedures:
- Recording your identifying information (name and address) and the crime for which you were arrested;
- Taking your photograph and fingerprints;
- A full body search and surrendering your personal belongings as possible evidence; and,
- A check for any outstanding warrants for your arrest.
You are entitled to legal representation during the booking process, and you are not required to provide any information other than your name and where you live. Any other information that you provide voluntarily can be used against you – even if you have not received the Miranda warning.
3. Bond Hearing
After booking, the next step in the criminal justice process in South Carolina is the bond hearing. Your bond hearing should be scheduled within 24 hours of your arrest. During your bond hearing, the judge will determine whether you are, “a danger to the community or . . . likely to run away before trial.” If the judge deems you a danger to the community or a flight risk, then the bond will be denied and you will be taken into custody pending trial. If the judge decides that bond is appropriate, you may be able to post various types of bonds in order to avoid going to jail. These include:
- Personal Recognizance Bond
- Surety Bond
- Cash Bond
- Cash Percentage of Bond
Learn more: 4 Types of Bail Bonds in South Carolina.
4. Preliminary Hearing and Grand Jury Indictment
In cases involving serious criminal offenses, the next stage after the bond hearing is to appear for what is known as a “preliminary hearing.” However, in order to schedule a preliminary hearing, you must file a formal request within 10 days of your bond hearing.
At this stage, your case may also go before a grand jury. The grand jury’s role is not to determine innocence or guilt, but rather to determine if there is sufficient evidence for the prosecutor’s office to press charges. If the grand jury finds sufficient cause, it will issue a “true bill,” which will result in an indictment. If it finds the insufficient cause, it will issue a “no bill” and you will not be formally charged.
While your criminal case is pending, your attorney will be able to file a motion with the court to request “discovery.” This is the process used to obtain the state’s evidence that it intends to use against you at trial. Conducting effective discovery is critical to presenting a successful defense, and you will want to give your attorney as much time as possible to request and review the state’s evidence against you.
6. First Appearance
Your next court appearance is formally referred to as your “first appearance” (or “roll call”), although it is possible that you and/or your attorney may have already appeared in court more than once already. Your first appearance will be scheduled within 45 days of your arrest, and you must appear in order to avoid having a bench warrant issued for you to be taken into custody.
7. Second Appearance
Next, your “Second Appearance” will be scheduled within 120 days of your arrest. This is when you will enter your plea and request a jury trial. Similar to your First Appearance, if you fail to show up on your court date, the judge can order you to be sent to jail pending trial.
8. Plea Negotiations and/or Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)
Having conducted discovery to learn about the state’s case against you, at this point your attorney may recommend negotiating a plea or seeking placement in a pre-trial intervention (PTI) program. Placement in a PTI program is an option for some first-time offenders; and, if you are eligible and you successfully complete the program, your charge will be dismissed. If PTI is not an option, then your attorney may work to negotiate a plea that results in you admitting guilt but accepting a lesser sentence than you would likely face if you took your case to trial.
If a favorable plea deal is not on the table, your criminal defense attorney will take your case to trial. If the judge or jury rules in your favor, your charge will be dismissed and you will be free to leave. However, if you are found guilty, the judge will sentence you pursuant to South Carolina law.
10. Appeal and Petition Post-Conviction Relief
Finally, if you are found guilty, you may be able to challenge your conviction by filing an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief. These are specialized legal procedures that are subject to complex rules and may have strict timeframes. If you get convicted, you should discuss your options with an attorney right away.
Arrested in Rock Hill, SC? For Free Consultation Contact Our Criminal Attorneys
If you have been arrested for a crime in South Carolina, it is important that you speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately. To discuss your case with a criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr. in Rock Hill, SC, call 803-328-8822 or tell us how to reach you online now.