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Accused of Murder?

South Carolina Murder Defense Attorney

Are you or a loved one facing a criminal charge for murder? If so, you have found the right law office for help.

We represent those under investigation or who have been arrested for murder. We recognize that these are the most serious of charges, and that our client’s entire future is on the line.

Murder Investigation

If you have been accused or are under investigation for murder, it is extremely important that you know your rights. As soon as you have been accused by someone, think you might be a suspect, or are contacted by law enforcement, you need to consult with an attorney.

Be aware before making any statements that telephone GPS systems may record you movements. Google also keeps and stores this information, going back years. GPS and cell-tower records are frequently used by area prosecutors to place a defendant at the crime scene or other location.

We do not recommend that anyone make any statements, share their side of a story, authorize the release of any information, provide a DNA sample, or do anything else until they have first consulted with an attorney and been advised it is in their best interest to do so.

Telephone calls made by jail inmates are recorded. Investigators and prosecutors will listen to these calls and anything said can be used by authorities. Never discuss the facts or circumstances of a case or defense strategy on a jail telephone.

Police Witness Intimidation

Police investigators frequently bring criminal charges against suspected witnesses in effort to gain their cooperation on a murder case. This may include charges such as accessory after the fact, new charges, or threats of probation violations. Even if you do not believe that you are suspected of the actual killing, but the police think you know something and are helping cover up for the crime, you need to consult with an attorney before making any statements.

Bond Setting for Murder Charges

Murder is a very serious offense. Possible penalties include a minimum prison sentence of thirty years, up to and including the death penalty. Because the charge is so serious, bond court judges do not have jurisdiction to authorize bond. For this reason bond is always initially denied.

In order to obtain bond in a murder case the bond hearing must be conducted in General Sessions court. It is not unusual to have multiple investigators, family members of the decedent, and prosecutors involving in opposing a bond request. Local TV stations and newspaper reports are also frequently in attendance.

In deciding to set a bond the judge is to determine whether or not the defendant presents a flight risk or a danger to the community. Because of this we want to obtain as much favorable information and documentation about our client as possible before any bond hearing, in order to be able to demonstrate to the court why our client is entitled to bond. We are able to file legal motions related to bond as soon as we are retained and to follow up by requesting a hearing to try to secure our client’s release.

Defense Investigation

We don’t believe that anyone should have to rely on the law enforcement investigation alone when facing a charge as serious as murder. For this reason a murder case in our office will not only be defended legally, by an experienced defense attorney, but also by conducting our own investigation into the facts and circumstances.

We utilize experienced investigators to try to locate and secure evidence and witnesses favorable to the defense. Many times witnesses are initially reluctant to come forward, or the police may simple choose not to speak to everyone with knowledge of the events. Other times we have found that witnesses feel that the police unfairly recorded their statement, and they have more favorable information than first indicated.

In addition to using interviews to locate physical evidence and witnesses, we also utilize other types of experts in the defense of our clients. This can include forensic psychologists, ballistic experts, crime scene examiners, accident reconstructionists, false confession experts, and forensic medical doctors.

Often times a complete defense can only be made by putting a defense team together.

Other Charges

In addition to having experience in the negotiation and trial of murder, we also have experience with other specific charges involving an unlawful death. Those include:

  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Felony DUI w/ Death
  • Homicide by Child Abuse
  • Reckless Homicide

Just like with a murder charge, these are all serious felonies. Anyone charged deserves the best available representation and defense.

South Carolina Murder Defenses

There are numerous methods by which a murder charge can be challenged. There are two major catarogies of defenses. Defendants may assert that they did not commit the murder. Defendants may also assert that they are responsible for a death, but the circumstances do not constitute a criminal murder charge.

Examples of possible defenses include:

  • Self-Defense – A death will be considered legally justified if it was done in self-defense. When self-defense is raised in court the government has the burden of not only providing the defendant’s guilty, but also disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. In South Carolina you not only have the right to employ self-defense to protect yourself, but also that of other people. When self-defense appears to apply we can file a motion with the court asking to have a murder charge dismissed as a matter of law (frequently referred to as the Castle Doctrine).
  • Mistaken Identification – Someone else did it. This is a common defense. The defendant asserts that he has been wrongly identified as the perpetrator of a murder. Maybe an eyewitness incorrectly pointed him out. Maybe the police line-up was overly suggestive. Maybe the deceased, due to trauma and shock, said the defendant’s name for some other purpose, and the police considered it a “dying declaration” of an identification of the murder. Fingerprints and DNA testing can identify the wrong individual. Police make mistakes, and there a
  • Mere Presence – Sometimes you can simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time. In South Carolina this can constitute a legal defense of mere presence. That is just because someone was present while a crime was committed, that fact alone does not mean that they are guilty. Police will frequently try to charge multiple parties under a theory of “hand of one is the hand of all.” While it is true that anyone involved with a murder, even slightly, can be guilty, there must be more evidence than simply being present.
  • Accidental Death – Murder requires a specific criminal intent in order to commit. This means that it is more than just a physical act causing a death. If the death results from an accident, or some other circumstance short of an intent to commit death or serious injury, then it is not murder. If it is ordinary negligence (carelessness) then it may not be any crime at all (or if a traffic accident, simply an ordinary traffic ticket). If there was gross (extreme) negligence, then it may not be murder, but the lesser-offense of involuntary manslaughter may apply.
  • Alibi – The defendant may contend that they could not be the murderer because they were somewhere else at the time. An alibi defense requires confirming or challenging the police and medical examiners time-line and time of death, and also locating any witnesses or other supporting evidence.
  • Battered Woman Syndrome – This defense is raised when someone has been subjected to a history of abuse, and reaches a point to where an otherwise unlawful homicide may be excused. Attorney James R. Snell, Jr., is the author of the book “Challenging CDV” written on the topic of South Carolina domestic violence law and defense procedures. He has significant experience in domestic violence cases, the same environments by which a battered woman syndrome defense may arise. Use of this defense will involve a testifying defense expert (usually a forensic psychologist) to assist in explaining the mental condition of the defendant at the time.
  • Mental Incompetency – In order for an individual to be criminally responsible for a death, they must have a sufficient mental competency. If someone does not, due to mental infirmity or mental illness, this can create a defense to the murder charge or result in a finding of incompetency to stand trial.

To discuss your case with a Lexington criminal attorney from our office, contact us now. We provide free consultations so that you can ask questions about your case, tell your side of the story, and learn about how we can fight to defend your freedom.

Former Client Experiences

  • “I would highly recommend Mr. Snell, should you be seeking legal counsel in SC.”

    Former Client

  • “When we went to court, it went just like he said that it would, and now I do not have a CDV on my record.”

    Former Client

  • “The customer service is the greatest I've personally seen within a law office”

    Ben N.

  • “You absolutely exceeded every possible expectation I had. I'm simply amazed at how quickly you got results for me. I am beyond happy that I hired you.”

    Former Client

  • “I could tell that Mr. Snell knew what he was doing because everyone there knew him.”

    Former Client

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