Lexington Criminal Lawyer

Being accused of any crime in the State of South Carolina is a serious matter. Simply being arrested is enough to result in a mark on a person’s criminal record. The arrest itself can be a traumatic experience, even for relatively minor crimes.

The court system can be complicated and confusing to people who have never had to face criminal charges before. An experienced Lexington criminal lawyer could represent people who are facing all types of criminal charges, from DUI to assault, drugs, guns, and domestic violence.

A skilled defense attorney can work with accused individuals to fully explain the charges they face, the potential consequences for a conviction, and develop a strategy to fight those charges in court.

South Carolina’s Criminal Justice System

Most criminal cases in South Carolina begin with an arrest conducted by a local police department or the sheriff’s office. While it is possible for people to file a criminal complaint against someone accusing them of a crime, most charges are filed after the police respond directly to the scene of a crime.

This person is then taken to the police station and booked. They are then taken to court for the bond hearing (within 24 hours of arrest).

The total number of times that a person will appear in court depends upon the severity of the charges, the complexity of the case, the Prosecutor, and whether the defendant insists upon having a trial. There are three main ways that a case may be disposed of in Lexington, South Carolina.

  1. The Charges are Dropped (Dismissed): This can occur when the prosecutor decides that there is not enough evidence to continue the case. In other situations, the defendant’s attorney successfully moves to suppress key evidence in the case. When this happens, the defendant is free to go. The Defendant should always follow-up to confirm that the charges have been expunged off his or her criminal record.
  2. The Defendant Pleads Guilty: At any time during the case, from the bond hearing until the trial, the defendant has the option to admit their guilt. Many defendants choose to plead guilty when the evidence against them is overwhelming, they wish for their punishment to begin sooner, or they hope for a less severe penalty by admitting they were wrong. In some situations, when a defendant is facing multiple charges, some of the more serious charges are dismissed from the case in exchange for an admission of guilt to the others. Defendants should always consult with an attorney before deciding to plead guilty as this is a permanent end to the case that results in a conviction.
  3. The Case Goes to Trial: A defendant always has the right to take the case to trial. At this trial, the defendant or their Lexington criminal attorney has the right to speak in their own defense, call their own witnesses, present their own evidence and cross-examine any witnesses called by the State.

Going to Trial vs. Taking a Plea Deal

Most criminal cases end in one of two ways. The defendant can at any time, even during a trial, admit to the charges by pleading guilty. There are a few reasons why a person may want to do this. The defendant and a Lexington criminal defense attorney may not believe that they have a chance to win at trial. Sometimes the weight of the evidence disclosed to the defendant convinces the defense that a trial will most likely result in a guilty verdict.

In exchange for not forcing the State to hold a trial, many defense attorneys suggest a guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence, especially in situations where the defendant has no prior record. Prosecutors may suggest probation or other diversion programs in lieu of jail time in exchange for a guilty plea based on many different mitigating factors.

What is the Impact of a Guilty Plea?

A guilty plea may end the case far sooner than waiting for a trial. Every case is unique, but often times a defendant is willing to admit guilt and accept the consequences if the whole process moves more quickly. This can also spare the defendant the stress and embarrassment of a trial.

However, the defendant always has the option of having a trial to determine their guilt or innocence. This trial, the defendant can cross-examine any State witnesses as well as present evidence of their own. The ultimate choice is always with the defendant. An attorney can provide their honest opinion on the best option, but ultimately, the decision rests with the charged individual.

Help from A Lexington Criminal Attorney

Major issues in the case are handled at every step of the proceedings from the bond hearing and to the first appearance through a potential trial. From the most minor misdemeanors to the most severe felonies, every charge carries the potential for harsh consequences and a permanent criminal record.

It is essential at every stage of a criminal proceeding to have dedicated and knowledgeable representation. A Lexington criminal lawyer can provide this service to people facing all manner of criminal charges. Contact our office to learn more.