Brady Vannoy Criminal Defense Practice
My practice is focused on criminal defense in South Carolina. I take pride in defending clients accused of criminal offenses. I also take great interest in preserving the intent of the Founders of our Country that all are equal before the eyes of the law and that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I take a very personal approach to defending my clients. Each client receives a confidential interview from me and once retained, I go about defending their case. During the course of our relationship, I discuss all aspects of the case with the client. If you have questions about a criminal charge, please contact my office today for an interview. Below you will find some general information on the criminal justice process and system in South Carolina
General Information on SC State Level Criminal Defense
Beside perhaps death, a criminal arrest is often one of the most traumatic experiences of life. To be charged with a crime one has not committed is undoubtedly even more devastating. In the next few paragraphs, I hope to provide information of the criminal process in South Carolina and how I go about defending criminal cases.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires all arrests to be based on probable cause and that no warrants be issued without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation. Generally speaking, arrests happen in one of two ways. The first, an officer witnesses an alleged crime being committed and makes an arrest. Second, a warrant is issued following presentation of sworn testimony to a judge and the accused is arrested at his home, place of work, or elsewhere. Some offenses do not require the subject being formally arrested at all.
Following the arrest, an accused will be booked into the local jail and wait on a bond hearing. Unfortunately, many people are arrested at odd hours and could be forced to wait long hours and even days to go in front of a bond judge. In most cases, people are presented before a bond judge within twenty four hours. However, there are some offenses in this State that a magistrate is without authority to set bond on and in turn, the accused has to wait to have a circuit court judge set bond.
There are several different types of criminal bonds used in South Carolina. One is a "personal recognizance" or "PR" bond. A PR bond is the lowest bond set and allows an accused to be released on his own surety or promise that he/she will attend the required court appearances. Another type of bond is called a "surety bond" that requires a bail bondsman to post bond to have the accused released. Another type of bond is a "cash bond" and this allows the subject to post cash with the clerk of court to secure his release. The cash bond money is returned to the person posting the bond following the completion of the case, so long as the accused appears as required. The least frequently used is a real property bond where land is used to secure the defendant's release. The judge is the one who determines which bond is set. Nature of the offense, criminal record, flight risk, and danger to the community are the main factors judges look at when setting bond on the accused.
Magistrate and Municipal Court versus General Sessions Court
Generally speaking, and there are exceptions, offenses that carry thirty days or less are handled in magistrate or municipal court. In these cases, defendants are given a court date on their arrest paperwork. This court date is a "bench trial date" meaning that, if a client goes forward on this date, a judge will decide both the law and the facts. More times than not, this initial court date is not the most favorable time to litigate your case. In most cases, I request "jury trials". This allows for my office to obtain the relevant evidence and time to investigate the matter fully and attempt to resolve the matter before trial. If the case goes to trial in magistrate or municipal court the jury will be composed of six jurors drawn from within the jurisdiction of the magistrate. Guilty verdicts are required to be unanimous.
The Courts of General Sessions in this State have trial court jurisdiction over criminal offenses in this State. Everything from DUI2 to Murder is heard in General Sessions Court. Normally, the policy is that once a person is released from jail, they are given a "roll call date" and sometimes a "bond return date" depending on the judicial circuit and their home rules. Each circuit has different policies and procedures. Generally, "Solicitors" prosecute general sessions offenses. Many states refer to them as "district attorneys" or "DAs". Juries are composed of twelve members and guilty verdicts are required to be unanimous.
Another difference between magistrate and general sessions court is the right to a preliminary hearing. If arrested and charged with a general sessions offense, a defendant has the right to request a preliminary hearing. This is a hearing where the defense is able to challenge the probable cause for the arrest.
The information paints South Carolina's criminal procedure in broad strokes. If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in this State, please contact me to set up a confidential interview.