Your Greenville Criminal Case: The Basics

It's been a bumpy road for your daughter and her band of misfit friends. Last week she turned 18 years old. What did she do to celebrate? Stole a cell phone, went joyriding in your Land Rover, and ran around with cans of spray paint vandalizing most of "Upcountry." The Greenville County Sheriff arrested her this morning and now she is begging you to get her out of jail. You're scouring the internet for legal information about criminal cases in Greenville, but you keep finding conflicting information.

Since arrests occur in so many different situations, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen. This article provides general information about what to expect in most cases if you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a Greenville criminal case.

The South Carolina Penal Code

Criminal laws for the city Greenville are found in the South Carolina Penal Code. It's long and rather difficult to understand. There's a law against almost everything from theft to animal fighting. Let's explore some of the highlights.

South Carolina Statute of Limitations

The state of South Carolina is a very unique state in that it does not set a statute of limitations on any crime that can be set up for criminal prosecution.

How to Get an Attorney

Since you'll be dealing with the Greenville courts, you might consider speaking to a lawyer. You can hire a Greenville criminal defense lawyer or ask for a public defender.

Greenville Arrest and Probable Cause

Each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances. If you get arrested, it's likely by either the Greenville Police Department, Greenville County Sherriff, or the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The officer believes he or she has probable cause to arrest you for either a felony or a misdemeanor. Why? Because the officer may have personally witnessed a crime or a witness it reported. The officer might have a warrant, but they don't always need one. You'll be arrested and should be read your Miranda rights. You have other criminal rights such as the right against illegal searches and seizures and right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

After getting arrested the police have two options: take you to jail for booking or release you with a promise to appear at a later date. If you're trying to find an inmate, he or she is probably downtown at the Greenville County Detention Center.

Bond Hearing

Within 24 hours of your arrest, a judge will determine whether you can be be released on bond. The judge evaluates whether you're a danger to the community or likely to run away before trial. If a judge decides to release you on bond, he or she sets the amount and conditions of the bond.

Posting A Bond

If you want to bail someone out of jail, there's two ways that happens. You can post a cash bond -- that means you'll pay the entire amount of the bail. If the defendant appears for all court hearings, the bail will be refunded at the conclusion of the case, regardless of whether the defendant was found guilty or not guilty.

You can also employ the services of a bail bonds service -- that requires the payment of a percentage of the bail amount to a bonding company, which will not be refunded. The bonding company then pays the remaining balance and is responsible for the entire bail amount should the defendant fail to appear for court. The bonding company may require collateral for the total amount being posted.

South Carolina Criminal Laws and Penalties

Crimes are broken down in South Carolina by:

A felony is a very serious crime. Felonies generally carry long prison
sentences of a year or more. Examples of a felony are attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.

A misdemeanor is a less serious crime. Misdemeanors carry shorter jail sentences. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include simple possession of marijuana, simple assault and battery, and tampering with an electric meter.

Felonies in South Carolina

South Carolina classifies felonies into categories A thru F. Class A is the most serious, with F being the least serious. Penalties for South Carolina felony cases are governed by the South Carolina Sentencing Guidelines. The state uses a very complex scheme to determine the length of your sentence if you are convicted. In addition to crimes listed below, some felonies have their own separate category such as murder which carries a minimum of 30 years in prison, life in prison, or the death penalty.

Class A: Maximum penalty of up to 30 Years;
Class B: Maximum penalty of up to 25 Years;
Class C: Maximum penalty of up to 20 Years;
Class D: Maximum penalty of up to 15 Years;
Class E: Maximum penalty of up to 10 Years; and
Class F: Maximum penalty of up to 5 Years.

South Carolina Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors might be considered less serious than felonies, but take note, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career, your educational opportunities, and your freedom.

Class A - Maximum penalty up to 3 Years in Jail;

Class B - Maximum penalty up to 2 Years in Jail; and

Class C - Maximum penalty up to 1 Years in Jail.

Additional Penalties

For both misdemeanors and felonies, the judge may impose additional penalties such as fines, mandatory drug or alcohol treatment, domestic violence counseling and treatment, or community service.

A Final Word About Greenville Criminal Cases

Remember that criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. Anyone charged with an offense may wish to at least consider consulting a Greenville criminal defense attorney for more information.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.