Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Criminal Defense
Answers From An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney In Columbia
We know that you have questions about your case. At The Law Offices of Marion M. Moses, LLC, our experienced criminal defense attorney, Marion Moses, is pleased to provide this FAQ page, which gives you short answers to common questions about the law in South Carolina.
- What are my rights if I get arrested?
- What should I do first?
- Can I demand to see a lawyer?
- Do I need a lawyer to represent me if I am innocent?
- What if I simply intend to plead guilty?
- How can I fight my DUI charge?
- What is the difference between DUI as a felony and DUI as a misdemeanor?
- What are the consequences of a DUI charge?
- What does a jury or grand jury do in a drug case?
- What defenses can be raised in a drug case?
- Can a plea bargain be made in a DUI or drug case?
- What is domestic violence?
- What is a restraining order?
- Why should I be concerned about bond modification?
Call Us Today To Discuss Criminal Law Issues Affecting Your Life
The Law Offices of Marion M. Moses, LLC, is a general practice firm in Columbia, serving clients in Richland and Lexington counties, as well as other counties in South Carolina, with an emphasis on criminal law, DUI cases and civil litigation. Attorney Moses is a former prosecutor and brings his knowledge of this side of the legal equation to your defense. Contact us today through our online intake form or call us at 803-771-7011 to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.
1. What are my rights if I get arrested?
At a minimum, you have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney about your case. You also must be told the charge or charges against you. You have the right to make a phone call.
2. What should I do first?
You should not say anything other than answer any direct questions from the arresting officer or officers such as those regarding your name or address. Calling an attorney first helps to ensure that your rights are protected.
3. Can I demand to see a lawyer?
Absolutely. You have the right to speak with an attorney about your case. A public defender will be provided for you if you do not have a lawyer.
4. Do I need a lawyer to represent me if I am innocent?
It is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you in any criminal defense matter. The fact that you have been arrested shows that the arresting officer believes there is evidence you committed a crime. An experienced attorney can review the evidence and charges, and represent you in court.
5. What if I simply intend to plead guilty?
It is in your best interest if you intend to plead guilty to receive the minimum penalty in order to lessen the impact on your criminal record and employment opportunities. An experienced lawyer who is familiar with your case can present your plea to the judge and make an argument for the minimum fine, jail time or alternative diversion programs. It is also possible that your case could be dismissed.
1. How can I fight my DUI charge?
An attorney with experience defending DUI charges can help you fight your DUI charge. The law requires the arresting officer to follow specific procedures. A lawyer can help determine whether certain procedures were not followed or were done incorrectly. If so, the chemical tests for intoxication can be questioned.
2. What is the difference between DUI as a felony and DUI as a misdemeanor?
A felony DUI charge is more severe than a misdemeanor and may entail imprisonment in a state correctional facility rather than in the county jail. Having a felony on your record can have long-term negative consequences for job opportunities.
3. What are the penalties for a DUI?
The consequences vary depending on the severity of the charge, whether you are a repeat offender and whether there was an accident that resulted from the driver’s intoxication. The minimum penalties are a fine and temporary loss of license. Community service or counseling may be required — along with a term of probation. Your car insurance costs are likely to increase. Severe or repeat DUI infractions bring a prison sentence, fine and the loss of your license.
1. What is civil litigation?
Civil litigation is the act of using the court system to resolve a dispute by bringing a lawsuit. Civil law applies to all matters that are not handled by criminal courts. Civil litigation begins by filing a lawsuit, and it encompasses such matters as personal injury cases, business disputes and more.
2. How can an attorney help?
For the defendant in a lawsuit, an attorney reviews the complaint, researches the dispute, prepares a defense and represents the defendant in court. An experienced attorney knows the relevant state and federal laws, the litigation procedures and relevant case law, and can mount a strong defense. Often, your lawyer can negotiate a settlement before your case goes to trial. A negotiated settlement can be less costly and time-consuming than going to trial.
3. What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is when someone’s negligence or criminal behavior causes the death of another person. Examples are deaths due to medical malpractice, a car or truck accident, or an armed robbery and similar crimes. An attorney can review the circumstances of the death and help determine if it was the result of another party’s negligence. The attorney can then represent you in a lawsuit against those responsible.
1. What does a jury or grand jury do in a drug case?
In a drug crime case, a grand jury hears evidence presented by the district attorney or prosecutor and makes a determination, based on that evidence, whether to indict the drug dealer or other defendant. When an indictment leads to a trial, the jury at that trial listens to the evidence and testimony presented by the prosecution and defense, and determines whether the state has proven the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. What defenses can be raised in a drug case?
Common defenses include failure by the arresting officer or officers to follow the proper procedures and unreliability of the witnesses. In a given case, an experienced attorney can determine the best approach for mounting a defense.
3. Can a plea bargain be made in a DUI or drug case?
Yes. Depending on the charges, a plea bargain can include counseling or admission to a rehabilitation program, community service, giving sworn testimony or providing other evidence against a higher level drug dealer.
1. What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a threat to harm or inflicting actual harm on a spouse, partner, date or other person with whom you have a romantic or intimate relationship. Domestic violence can occur between opposite-sex and same-sex partners.
2. What is a restraining order?
A restraining order prevents someone charged with domestic violence from contact with the victim.
3. Why should I be concerned about bond modification?
Bond modification is the process of lowering the initial bond (and possibly removing the initial restraining order) in a domestic violence case. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you want the lowest bond possible. An attorney can represent you at a bond modification hearing.