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 consultation please 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.