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An Overview of the South Carolina Arrest Process

Getting placed under arrest can be a daunting experience, particularly if it’s your first time, or if you’ve never had experience with the South Carolina criminal justice system. On top of being afraid of what your future might hold, you may also be faced with the fear of uncertainty and lack of knowledge about what happens during the arrest process.
Below is a brief overview of what to expect if you get arrested in the state of South Carolina, and what to do during each phase of the arrest process:

  • Getting Arrested

When the police suspect that you’ve committed a crime, or, if they believe they’ve caught you in the act of committing a crime, their first step will be to physically place you under arrest. You will be mirandized by an officer (i.e. read your Miranda rights), placed in handcuffs, and taken to a local detention facility where the booking process begins.

  • The Booking Process

The booking process consists of having your mugshots and fingerprints taken by an officer, and and then placed in a jail cell. You may or may not have access to a telephone. The state of South Carolina also requires that a medical professional assess your current health and condition as a safeguard to you and your arresting officers.
If during  the booking stage that you are afforded an opportunity to call an attorney, a family member or friend, or a bail bondsman, everything you say on the telephone will be recorded and can be used against you.

  • The Bond Process

Typically criminal suspects in South Carolina have the right to have a bond hearing.  Bond hearings are typically held twice a day, in the morning around 9 am and in the afternoon at 3 pm or 4 pm.  In order to go to a bond hearing, warrants must first be served upon you.  If you have not been served the warrants, the judge cannot set your bond and will wait for the police to get the warrants.  Most police agencies believe that they have up to 72 hours to serve the warrants.  That is not necessarily the law, however, at that stage of a case, you have little recourse unless you have an attorney actively working for you to get the warrants served. During the bond hearing a judge will review the facts of your case as well as past criminal history, current employment, and family life. This information is all used to determine whether to set bond and in what amount.  The two issues for the court to consider in a bond hearing are risk of flight and danger to the community.
If at all possible, it is best to have an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer with you at the bond hearing to present evidence on your behalf and get your bond set at a low amount, or possibly have you receive a personal recognizance or signature bond so you can be released without posting money or paying a bail bonding company.  
If bond is set, you may contact a family member and/or a bail bondsman, who can post your bond. Once your bond is paid, you will be released. If the judge rules that you’ll be held without bond, you must stay in jail until your case is resolved.  On serious felony cases you could be in jail for years.

  • When to Obtain an Attorney

When at all possible, it is in your best interest to obtain a criminal defense attorney as soon as you’ve been arrested.  It is even better to get an attorney before you are arrested if possible. Answering police questions without the presence of an attorney can be detrimental to your case and your future, even if you feel you have nothing to hide. It is THEIR job to solve crime and close cases, it is OUR job to make sure you are treated fairly and have an aggressive defense provided for you.
If your loved one has been arrested, you want an experienced criminal defense law attorney on their side. The Complete Legal Defense Team has years of experience in providing criminal defense to defendants in the state of South Carolina. Call us today for a no-cost, confidential consultation at (843) 627-4025.

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