Getting arrested can be scary, especially if you have no exposure to the criminal justice system beyond watching Law & Order in your family room. The following numbered items are a very general schedule of what to expect after you are arrested.
- Arrest: Arrest is a mechanism by which law enforcement officers charges you with a crime in South Carolina. You may be arrested if you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, though officers can sometimes choose to issue a citation in lieu of a formal arrest for certain misdemeanors (including traffic citations).
- Bond Hearing: This generally occurs within about 24 hours of your arrest/booking. At this hearing, a judge determines whether you are to be released prior to your court date. You may be released on a PR (Personal Recognizance) bond or a paid bond.
- Initial/Docket Appearances: These are roll calls where the court makes sure you have not run away and violated your bond. At these appearances, the court also makes sure that you have an attorney and that your attorney has begun discussing your case with the prosecutor.
- Plea Hearing: If you and your attorney decide that you are going to plead guilty to an offense, even if it is not the offense charged, you will appear in front of a judge to do this.
- Roster Hearing: This is similar to the Initial/Docket appearances in that the court has you appear to let you know that your case is on the short list to be called for trial. Your trial could be held during that week or the following if you are far enough toward the top of the list.
- Trial: This is what you normally see on television. It is where you and your attorney challenge the evidence that the prosecutor believes proves that you committed a crime. This can take place in front of a judge alone or in front of a jury.
- Sentencing: This phase only occurs if you are convicted of a crime. It typically occurs at the time you plead guilty (plea hearing) or immediately after you are convicted by a judge/jury.
Blackwelder Law encourages you to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. This ensures that an attorney is available to advocate on your behalf through each of the steps listed above.
We look forward to working with you during this difficult time.