Criminal Defense Lawyer in Greenwood, SC
It doesn’t matter if you are facing misdemeanor charges or something more serious, any time you are accused of committing a crime you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Even if you think there is a chance you could be charged and the process is just in the investigation phase, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The best criminal defense attorneys will help you navigate the legal system and help you manage your stress. The goal of criminal defense is to reduce the impact of the charges as much as possible or to have the charges against you dropped all together. The earlier a criminal defense lawyer intervenes, the better your chances he or she will find weaknesses in the case against you and be able to build your strongest defense.
At Ayers, Smithdeal, and Bettis, P.C., we’ve worked with people from all walks of life, helping them build their strongest defense. We’ve represented clients accused of:
- Domestic violence
- Drug and alcohol crimes
- Internet crimes
- Probation violations
- Sex crimes
- Theft crimes
- Weapons violations
- White collar crimes
We’re also experienced with the appeals process and can help you if you decide to appeal your case.
What Should You Do If You are Charged with a Crime in Greenwood?
Facing criminal charges is likely one of the most frightening things to ever happen to you. Most people don’t know what to do in this situation, and if they are smart, they turn to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the earliest opportunity. Contacting an attorney is the first and most important decision you can make if you are facing criminal charges.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is critical to remain calm and keep a clear head. Emotions are likely high, but remember, anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you at a later date. The best advice is to exercise your right to say as little as possible until you’ve spoken to a criminal defense attorney. Keep in mind, law enforcement might act as if they are on your side or trying to help you, but this is a tactic they are using to accomplish their goals. Their job is to solve a crime, and they’ll do whatever it takes, even at your expense, to do this.
You should contact a criminal defense lawyer the moment police want to speak to you about a crime, even if they tell you that you are not a suspect and even if you are innocent. Innocent people can be charged with crimes and serve time in jail. Your best bet is to say nothing until a lawyer is present and helping you make decisions that are in your best interest.
What Happens If You are Accused of a Crime in Greenwood?
If law enforcement believes you might have been involved in a crime, they can detain you and issue you a notice to appear in court, or they can arrest you based on probable cause, or they can charge and indict you following a criminal investigation. Must of how the process is handled is based on the type of crime in question and how much evidence law enforcement has gathered against you.
It is possible to be arrested for a crime and not charged immediately if there is not enough evidence to file charges. However, just because law enforcement officials let you go following an arrest does not mean your risk has ended. Chances are they are working to gather more evidence against you so they can charge you. If you are arrested and not charged with a crime, it’s still a good idea to speak to an attorney about the situation.
What Does It Mean to Have Charges Pressed against You?
Following a stop by law enforcement or an arrest, you may or may not have charges pressed against you. This can be done by the person or the state accusing you of a crime. Several different types of charges can be filed, including:
- Civil charges: These are non-criminal charges and result in a penalty of a fine. You cannot be sent to jail for civil charges.
- Misdemeanors: These are criminal charges, but considered less severe in nature.
- Felonies: These are criminal charges that are severe apply to felony or indictable offenses.
Misdemeanor charges are usually filed when a person is accused of committing a petty or less severe crime. In many cases, minor offenses are punished with just a fine, but some petty crimes can result in jail time.
If you plead or are found guilty of a misdemeanor, even if you do not serve time in jail, it will result in a criminal record. In addition to possibly serving jail time and paying a fee, you are at risk for losing your driving privileges, being on probation, and losing other rights if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. It’s also possible for a sex offense to be a misdemeanor and result in a person being required to register as a sex offender – a qualification that lasts a lifetime.
Felony charges are viewed as more serious than misdemeanors because they can result in higher fines, longer jail times, and other more severe punishments. There are many instances in which a crime that seems no more serious than a misdemeanor is charged as a felony based on specific (and sometimes arbitrary) circumstances. However, there are also instances in which a felony is clearly a more serious crime than a misdemeanor, as is the case with crimes like murder, arson, robbery, sexual assault, and so on.
Though it’s more likely you’ll serve jail time if convicted of a felony, not everyone charged with a felony goes to prison. It is imperative you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you believe it’s possible law enforcement could charge you with a felony. Proper legal guidance could reduce jail time and potentially get you a sentence that includes only probation with no time served in jail.
What Should You Expect If You are Arrested in Greenwood?
The minutes and hours following an arrest are a crucial period for anyone facing criminal charges. Following your arrest, you’ll be booked by the police, which means they’ll review your identifying information, check for outstanding warrants, and take your photograph and fingerprints. If you are booked immediately after an arrest, law enforcement will conduct a search of your body to determine if there is any evidence that can be used against you. If you are placed in jail after your arrest and booking, an intake report will be completed and the information compiled can be used against you at a later date.
Assuming you’ve been placed in jail, the judicial system will determine whether or not and under what stipulations you can be released. You might need to pay bail or agree to certain conditions. Under the US Constitution, you cannot be held more than 72 hours without a bail hearing to determine whether a release is an option.
When Should I Contact a Greenwood Criminal Defense Attorney?
The answer to this question will always be “as soon as possible.” However, many people feel as if they are jumping the gun by contacting an attorney just because law enforcement wants to speak to them. It’s common for someone who is innocent to assume they can provide information to law enforcement in an effort to be helpful and this will not put them at risk. Sadly, this is not always the case. If you suspect law enforcement believes you were involved in a crime, you should contact a criminal attorney immediately. Ideally, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney before any charges are filed.
How can an attorney help you even if you are not yet charged with a criminal offense?
- Advise you of your rights
- Provide you with details on what to do when the police contact you
- Accompany you to and advice you during a statement to the police
- Arrange for you to surrender to a charge “at your convenience” rather than be arrested at work or home
- Speak to the prosecutor and negotiate lesser charges before filing
There are times when a criminal defense attorney is able to negotiate with a prosecutor, which results in lesser charges or no charges at all. If your freedom and your future are on the line, you want someone working on your behalf as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Greenwood Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, or you believe charges are possible, you should contact an attorney right away. Going it alone is a right, but it’s potentially the worst legal option you can choose. Speaking to law enforcement or appearing in court without a criminal defense lawyer leaves you defenseless, and can result in your being victimized by law enforcement.
The law firm of Ayers, Smithdeal & Bettis, P.C., has the experienced criminal defense lawyers that will do whatever it takes to ensure your rights are protected. For a free case review in Greenwood, South Carolina, contact Ayers, Smithdeal, and Bettis, P.C. at 855.213.4405.