Frequently Asked Questions
Lexington Criminal Defense FAQ
What types of criminal defense matters do you offer representation for?
We represent clients in the defense of criminal charges in all South Carolina
Federal and State level courts. This includes all Federal Courts, Magistrate
Courts, Municipal Courts, General Sessions, and juvenile proceedings in
the Family Court. We also provide services in criminal appeals, pardons
and post-conviction relief (PCR) proceedings.
Do you offer free consultations?
We offer free in-person consultations in our office located in downtown
Lexington, South Carolina, for criminal defense matters. To schedule your
contact our office by calling 888-301-6004 or contacting us through this site. Initial consultations
are provided on a confidential and legally privileged basis. You will
have a chance to meet with an attorney to discuss your case and to ask
any questions that you may have. Please bring copies of your arrest paperwork
(ticket(s), warrant(s), bond paperwork, etc.) with you to the appointment.
How much will it cost to hire this office for my case?
Criminal defense services are unique for each client. We will set a fee
for your case after we have had an opportunity to discuss the specifics
of your case during the initial consultation. There is no set fee for
your type of charge. Generally the fee will take into account the level
of charge, the complexity of the facts, the nature of the required investigation,
whether there are unusual legal issues involved, and the likelihood of
whether your case will result in a trial, dismissal, plea-bargain or entrance
into a diversion program such as pre-trial intervention (PTI). Although
we are not the least expensive criminal defense firm, every effort is
made to charge a reasonable fee based on the amount of work that will
go into your case.
If the police want to ask me questions, what should I do?
If you are suspected of being involved in a crime, you should never talk
to the police without first consulting with a Lexington
criminal defense attorney. You have an absolute right not to agree to meet with the police or to
speak with them. We can help you determine how best to respond to a police
investigation and can instruct the police on your behalf to direct all
further questions or correspondence to our office. There are several dangers
to agreeing to meet with or speak to the police. Anything you say, or
anything the police want to say that you said, can be repeated in Court
and used as evidence against you. Both written and verbal statements can
be used against you in Court.
If someone is arrested how can they be released on bond?
Soon after someone has been arrested, usually within 24 hours or less,
they will be taken before a Magistrate judge for a bond hearing. The judge
will consider the defendant’s background and prior criminal history,
along with the present allegations in determining what the bond amount
will be. If a personal recognizance bond is set, then the person can sign
themselves out of jail. If a cash bond is set then the defendant either
has to post that amount with the Court or hire a bail bondsman to post
it for them. Cash that is deposited directly with the Court may be returned
at the end of the case. Fees paid to a bail bondsman are generally non-refundable
as they are the bondsman’s payment. Jail discharge procedures take
time, so it may be 4-5 hours after bond is posted before someone is actually released.
How do I determine if my charges are a misdemeanor or a felony?
In South Carolina it is not always easy to determine if charges are misdemeanor
or felony level. Generally all charges that are referred to Magistrate
or a Municipal (city) Court are misdemeanors. Felonies are always referred
to General Sessions Court. Some serious misdemeanors are still referred
to General Sessions and may allow for a possible sentence of up to ten
years. During the initial consultation we will make sure that we review
whether or not the specific charge our client if facing is in a misdemeanor
or a felony.
If the police did not read me my rights does this mean that my charges
will be dropped?
Not necessarily. The only criminal offense in South Carolina which ordinarily
requires the reading of Miranda rights is driving under the influence.
Otherwise Miranda is only relevant to whether or not post-arrest statements
made by a defendant will be allowed into evidence at trial. If your statements
are a significant part of the evidence against you, the fact that Miranda
was not read could result in those statements not being allowed as evidence
in your case. This could result in a dismissal, reduction in charges or
a not-guilty verdict at trial.
If I just want to plead guilty and get it over with, why should I hire a lawyer?
Many people mistakenly think that if they are guilty, there case is hopeless
and that there is nothing that can be done to help them. This is not true.
A criminal defense attorney can help you determine what the potential
penalties will be for pleading guilty. Some crimes come with mandatory
jail sentences or driver’s license suspension. Often times, a lawyer
can help negotiate a reduced charge, a lesser sentence or entrance into
a diversionary program. Finally, we can help review your case with you
to determine if you would have grounds to challenge a police search or
interrogation technique that could result in the evidence against you
not being allowed at trial. Always consult with a Lexington criminal defense
attorney before going to Court.
I have heard about pre-trial intervention (PTI). Is this a good program for me?
Pre-trial intervention (PTI) is a diversion program that is run by each Solicitor’s office
in South Carolina. Cases are referred to the program by agreement of both
the prosecutor as well as the defendant. Both misdemeanor and felony cases
may be allowed into PTI. Defendants who complete the program will have
their charges dismissed and the record of the arrest removed. In order
to qualify for PTI you must have never have attempted the program before
in South Carolina or any other state. You must also have a minimal prior
criminal record. PTI can be a great option for many defendants. Unfortunately
it is not automatically offered by the prosecution, even for those with
no prior record and only more minor charges.
Can I use real estate to pay for legal services?
In certain circumstances you may be able to use real estate to assist
in paying for legal services. Normally this would only be for situations
involving major felony defense with substantial legal fees (such as cases
involving murder, manslaughter or felony child abuse). The real estate
would need to be free and clear of any liens, mortgages, and judgments,
or have significant equity. We recommend that prior to using real estate
that you consider all other types of payment options, and that you consult
with an independent lawyer or licensed real estate broker. Normally when
real estate is used for payment of criminal defense services it is titled
out of your name, and is then is held in a form of "escrow"
on your and the lawyer's behalf until the conclusion of the case.
After that point the property would then be eligible to be utilized or
sold by the lawyer.
In the alternative to "trading" your real estate for legal fees,
you can also consider utilizing a bank or private lender to loan you money
while taking out a mortgage on your property. You would then continue
to own the property, and could make long-term payments to the lender.
This is the method of utilizing real estate for payment of legal services
while allowing you continued possession and ownership. In addition there
are procedures available to use real estate to post bond. This means that
real estate can be used as an alternative to hiring a bail bondsman or
posting cash with the court.