You can get arrested and charged for a crime, even if you’re actually innocent. Simple mistakes and accidents can mean you wind up charged with something you either didn’t do or just didn’t mean to.
Sometimes, you can break a law that you didn’t even know existed. In all such cases, you need a criminal defense lawyer to help you out.
A Clinton criminal defense lawyer can help you out from the start. With one at your side, it’s far less likely that police will entrap you or lure you into a confession for something you didn’t even do. An attorney also makes it more likely that you will make bail or at least have a lower level of bail set.
Then, they can help you deal with a potential plea bargain or prepare for a trial. In the event of a trial, your Clinton criminal defense lawyer can help select friendly jurors, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, question their evidence, and call defense witnesses that create reasonable doubt.
If you’re having to deal with anything in this realm, be it talking to the police, getting arrested, having bail set, handling a specific charge, or getting ready for an actual trial, then you need a Clinton criminal defense lawyer at your side.
Contact the attorneys of Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis at 855-213-4405 if you need legal help in or around Clinton, South Carolina. If you’re not sure yet, or are just looking to learn more, then keep reading for more information about all of this.
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What Are Your Rights As a Criminal Defendant in South Carolina?
When you are arrested for criminal activity in the state of South Carolina, you are still entitled to certain rights. You don’t have to talk to the police without your attorney present. You are also entitled to having a lawyer represent you in every court hearing or appearance that you are required to make.
If you can’t afford a lawyer on your own, you can request the judge appoint one to work as your legal counsel throughout the process.
You also might have the right to decide whether your trial is done by a judge or jury. If you waive your right to a jury trial, the judge would then be the one that decides your guilt or innocence based on the evidence and testimony of witnesses.
Whether you choose a judge or jury trial, you and your Clinton Criminal Defense lawyer still have the right to cross-examine witnesses and call defense witnesses.
As always, you have the right to represent yourself and decline legal counsel. However, this is never a good idea, no matter how innocent you might be.
Other rights you are entitled to as a South Carolina criminal defendant include protection from self-incrimination, the right to a speedy trial, the right to pursue bail, the right to due process, and the right to a unanimous verdict.
What Is a Misdemeanor Vs a Felony in the State of South Carolina?
South Carolina follows the pattern of most states in dividing crimes into two different categories. The first are felonies, and the second are misdemeanors. Of the two, felonies are considered far more serious crimes than misdemeanors.
The state of South Carolina takes things further and sorts most misdemeanors into three classes, known as A, B, and C. A misdemeanor considered the most serious is usually a Class A, with Class C being the least serious.
There are always exceptions, but misdemeanors usually have a maximum possible incarceration penalty based on the classification. Class C penalties normally cap out at 1 year of incarceration at most, while Class B misdemeanors cap at 2 years. Class A infractions carry penalties of up to 3 years.
Anyone charged and convicted with a misdemeanor can also be fined on top of incarcerated. Misdemeanors cover crimes such as making threats to certain individuals, vandalism, disrupting worship services, and civil rights violations. Felonies are more serious crimes, including assault, murder, rape, and so forth.
Should I Consult a Clinton Criminal Defense Lawyer Before Speaking to Police?
Yes, nearly always. If the police have detained you for a crime, then they already have evidence on top of suspicion that you committed a crime, whether you did or not. They’re looking to solve and clear a case by either getting a confession or assembling enough evidence for a prosecutor to charge you and put you on trial.
The police are never on your side if they’ve picked you up. Whether they tell you or not, you have the right to legal counsel being present while you are interviewed, every time. A legal professional might be the only one who can protect you from their interrogation tactics and tricks.
What Is the Habitual Offender Law?
The habitual offender law is designed to keep repeat offenders from reoffending. Basically, the concept is that every time a person breaks the law, he or she must serve time in jail for their offense. This can be a very daunting and expensive prospect for a person who has just been arrested for a crime.
In other words, the primary function of this law is to impose a sentence that matches the gravity of the crime committed. For example, someone who knowingly and willfully breaks the law by possessing drugs for profit and distribution of those drugs would face a lengthy sentence.
Cases That Fall Under the Habitual Offender Law
If you are convicted of child molestation, the maximum sentence you face may actually be aggravated by three strikes. Similarly, if you are convicted of murder, a life sentence is the result.
There are also some circumstances that do not involve offenses that fall under the realm of the habitual offender law. If you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and receive three strikes and you are subsequently convicted of burglary, your sentence is increased dramatically.
Even minor possession or minor drug offenses fall under the realm of the habitual offender law. If you receive a one-time misdemeanor citation for public intoxication, it will result in an outstanding citation.
However, if you are later convicted of second or subsequent public intoxication, it will increase your sentence. The same is true for possession of an illegal narcotic.
Other common penalties associated with habitual offender laws include sex crimes, including soliciting a minor to engage in sexual conduct or committing a sex crime against a child.
If you have been accused of any of these types of offenses and you are facing sentencing under this type of law, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.
How Can Clinton Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
A lawyer can help you in three different ways when you are detained, arrested, or charged with criminal activity in the state of South Carolina.
Protect You From the System
First, a Clinton criminal defense lawyer can protect you from the system. Police and prosecutors aren’t your friends, and you can’t ever assume that your innocence will prevail just on its own.
The justice system is not perfect, which is why we’re supposed to be protected through a system of evidence and witnesses that convinces a jury of our peers. A Clinton criminal defense lawyer with Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis will ensure your rights are upheld.
Help You Avoid Mistakes
Second, a lawyer can protect you from your own ignorance or lack of understanding of the legal system. Simply not knowing what’s going on can mean you make mistakes that can wreck the process for you.
An effective attorney can keep you protected from your stress or emotional turmoil. Anyone detained and charged with a crime might be tempted to plead with police or offer some admission of wrongdoing just to make things better for themselves, even if they did nothing wrong.
Your Clinton criminal defense lawyer can help you keep your wits about you.
Know About the Professionals in the Justice System
Finally, Clinton criminal defense lawyers know the people and professionals in the system. Some police officers might have reputations for not having their cases stick in court, and some judges and prosecutors might be more willing to work with defendants than others. Your Clinton criminal defense lawyer will know who they can work with and how it can be in your favor.
Reach Out to Us Today
Getting charged with a crime is not something you ever plan on doing, but it can happen. Even if you do nothing wrong, being at the wrong time and place can result in your arrest and charges. Even if you don’t mean to do anything wrong, just being around the wrong person or making a single mistake can change your life.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to wreck your life. The right lawyer can help you protect and enjoy all of your legal rights throughout the process, from getting you out on bail before your trial to getting you declared not guilty.
If you find yourself needing a Clinton criminal defense lawyer, then consult the professionals of Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis to see if they’re the right ones to stand up for you. You can call us at 855-213-4405 anytime 24/7!