Criminal FAQ

Frequently Asked Criminal Questions in Columbia, South Carolina

Contacting an attorney immediately is a crucial part of effective criminal defense. Experienced attorneys are a vital part of any successful criminal defense.

Gavel Books JusticeOur attorneys have a thorough understanding of the criminal justice system. Our understanding of a typical prosecution, as well as our familiarity with the court system, is an essential part of any criminal defense. As soon as we are brought onto a case, the legal team at Strom Law Firm will dig in to develop a detailed strategy for defending your rights.

The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm are familiar with various jails and detention centers. We have extensive experience working with and visiting these types of facilities. Our attorneys work most frequently with the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, located at 201 John Mark Dial Dr, Columbia, SC 29209, and at the Lexington County Detention Center, located at 521 Gibson Rd., Lexington, SC 29072. Our attorneys are willing to travel to any correctional facility across South Carolina and further to defend your rights.

Arrest warrants are served by various law enforcement agencies in South Carolina.

Any law enforcement agency may make an arrest and file criminal charges. In South Carolina, there are many law enforcement agencies that you may encounter, including SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division), South Carolina Highway Patrol, county agencies, and various city/town agencies. Once any of these agencies makes an arrest, the alleged offender will be taken to one of any number of detention centers or police stations, depending on which agency is making the arrest. Our attorneys have extensive experience throughout South Carolina and Georgia, and have traveled to many of these detention centers.

Bond hearings may be held as soon as 24 hours after the initial arrest. Thorough preparation for this and other hearings is only possible with adequate time. Please contact an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest so that preparation can begin for the complete case

Even if you are charged with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. It is the state’s burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Frequently Asked South Carolina Criminal Defense Questions

I didn’t do anything wrong, so why should I worry about talking with an investigator?

Despite what you may think, and even if you do not think that you have done anything illegal, it is never a good idea to speak with law enforcement without an attorney. If you are contacted by law enforcement or even think that you may be under investigation, anything you do or say may be used against you in future criminal charges and/or proceedings. Contacting an attorney prior to any questioning is the safest route to protect your rights.

The information included on your ticket or warrant will usually contain:

  • your charge
  • your first court date
  • your bond (if any)

You should bring this documentation with you when you meet with the attorney.

Why do I need to show up at my first and second appearances if I won’t see a judge?

Any failure to appear could result in a bench warrant for your arrest.  While your first and second appearances may be somewhat procedural, you are required to attend. If you fail to appear, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

What is a bench warrant?

A bench warrant can be executed by a judge for your failure to appear in court, failure to pay a fine, or comply with a court’s payment plan. This bench warrant is a stand alone charge and is in addition to your original charges. In other words, if a bench warrant is issued, and you are pulled over for a simple traffic violation in that county, the officer may arrest you.  If you are in jail on a bench warrant, or think a bench warrant has been issued against you, you need an experienced South Carolina Criminal Defense attorney to guide you through the complicated process of dealing with your original charges and any bench warrants.

Can’t I wait to hire an attorney until after my second appearance?

In order to provide your attorney a sufficient amount of time to build your defense, you should hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest. If you are arrested and taken to jail, a bond hearing should be held within 24 hours of your arrest and having representation begin, as early as the bond hearing, becomes very important.  If you or your loved one has been placed under arrest, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible.  Additionally, if you are given a ticket with a date to appear in court, it is also extremely important that you contact an attorney as early as possible in order to give them time to prepare for your upcoming court date.

It’s not worth fighting. I’ll just plead guilty, right?

If you are arrested in South Carolina and your criminal charge is pending in General Sessions Court or Magistrate’s Court, you have the option to plead guilty or not guilty.

The decision to enter a guilty plea should not be made with haste, it is always best to consult the advice of a criminal defense attorney because when pleading guilty you give up any right to refute the charges against you.  A guilty plea can have lasting consequences beyond a fine or prison sentence.  Conviction of some misdemeanors and felonies result in potentially losing your right to public housing, suspension of your driver’s license,  potential loss of qualifying for education scholarships like the HOPE and LIFE scholarships, the loss of your right to carry a firearm or vote, and could mean a  lifetime registration on the sex offender registry.  Custody or visitation with your children can also be impacted by certain convictions, as well as professional consequences that can ruin your livelihood and end your career.

What Happens if I decide to plead guilty?

If you decide to plead guilty after receiving the advice of an attorney, you will attend a guilty plea hearing before a judge who is assigned to your case.  After your plea is entered the judge will then make a determination on your punishment.

State Sentencing

In South Carolina State Court, Judges have discretion to sentence within statutory range set by legislatures.

Possible punishments include:

  • a time-served sentence,
  • a monetary fine,
  • probation,
  • completion of rehabilitation/education programs in lieu of sentence,
  • home-detention or house arrest, and
  • active incarceration

Given the possible range of sentences it is extremely important that you consult a criminal defense attorney so that you are aware of all of the possible consequences of a crime before you decide how to plead in your case.

If you are not satisfied with the sentence imposed in your case, you may appeal the decision within 10 days after the completion of your case. Failure to file within ten days, except in very limited circumstances, will cause you to lose your appellate rights.

Charged in South Carolina?

Columbia SC Map PinnedThe Strom Law Firm encourages all individuals who are charged with even minor traffic or criminal offenses to seek a free consultation with an attorney before giving up valuable rights such as the right to contest the charge by jury trial or otherwise. The South Carolina criminal defense lawyers with Strom Law Firm provide a free consultation for these matters and have the experience you need to protect your rights and guide you through the legal process. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

More About Columbia, South Carolina

Richland County, one of the largest counties in South Carolina, is home to county seat and state capital Columbia. Richland County is home to several important landmarks including the Fort Jackson Army Base and the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Columbia is home to Fort Jackson, a U.S. Army Base and the largest U.S. Army installation for Basic Combat Training in the United States. Fort Jackson is responsible for training half of Army soldiers annually, including over 60% of our women soldiers. Used primarily as a training facility, Fort Jackson is home over over 12,000 military families and is a large part of the Columbia community.

The state flagship University of South Carolina is located in Columbia. The university’s Columbia campus educated upwards of 32,000 students annually. The university and city of Columbia are partners, as the university produces important economic growth and Columbia is ranked as the #3 college town in the United States.

Columbia has many natural resources even inside the city limits. Multiple rivers, including the Congaree River, Saluda River, and Wateree River each run through Columbia, which is also home to Congaree National Park. Kayaking, sailing, hiking, and swimming are all popular attractions at these natural locations and provide many fun activities for residents and visitors.

Columbia’s downtown scene includes popular bar areas Five Points and The Vista. Five Points, located on Harden Street in downtown Columbia, is home to over 20 bars and pubs. Popular among University of South Carolina students, Five Points also hosts several classic eateries and boutique shops. The Vista, located on Gervais Street, is a popular downtown area for young professionals and offers upscale dining and scenic views of the Congaree river.

There are many law enforcement agencies throughout Columbia. Magistrate, Central, and City Court all hear cases after arrest, depending on the arresting agency. After arrest, alleged offenders may be taken to a police station or to the Alvin S. Glenn detention center. After a short period of time in detention, a bond hearing will be set. Contacting an attorney from the very beginning of your case only helps that attorney defend your rights, including at the bond hearing.

Our attorneys frequently have significant experience in The City of Columbia City Court, located at 811 Washington St., Columbia, SC 29201, and Central Court, located at 1701 Main St., Columbia, SC 29201. Our attorneys also frequently visit the Alvin S. Glenn detention center, located at 201 John Mark Dial Dr., Columbia, SC 29209.

Interstates and Freeways comprise many of the roads into and out from Columbia. I-20, I-26, and I-77 each run through Richland County, and two other major interstates (I-85 and I-95) run nearby through other counties in South Carolina. These roads traverse South Carolina and all of its major cities.

Contact the Strom Law Firm immediately after you are arrested.

BestLawyers.comAVBetter Business Bureau