Our Columbia criminal defense attorneys know the justice system is a difficult place for anyone, no matter the charges you face. Besides the potential punishment for a conviction, you also deal with months or years of uncertainty.
The criminal justice system also does not always move quickly, and your case could drag on for a long time. All it takes is an instant where you make a mistake to give law enforcement more than enough ammunition to use against you.
Law enforcement usually knows exactly what it is doing when they are investigating your case or interrogating you. Police and prosecutors have the benefit of years of decisions from the United States Supreme Court and South Carolina courts. They know all the exceptions to major protections that you have, and how to cleverly keep themselves out of trouble, while getting you into it.
Shealey Law Firm offers criminal defense for these charges in Columbia:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Federal criminal charges
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
- Criminal domestic violence
- Assault and battery
- Theft and larceny
- Boating under the influence (BUI)
- Title IX accusations
- College student defense
- Juvenile crime defense
We are also attorneys handling state grand jury investigations in South Carolina. With our variety of experience, Shealey Law Firm is the legal defense team you need when your future is at stake. Please contact us to review your case.
If You’ve Been Arrested in Columbia, SC, You Need Legal Help Immediately
The pressure and other law enforcement tactics could begin the moment that they stop or arrest you. Uncertain of your rights, and gripped with fear of the potential consequences, you may do the wrong thing without knowing what you should have done.
Therefore, you should contact a Columbia crime defense lawyer as soon as possible after your first contact with police. In many cases, this is right after you have been arrested. The risks to you escalate the longer you go without legal defense. Contact Shealey Law Firm to begin.
The Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in South Carolina
There is no such thing as a conviction that has no consequences.
The most obvious threat is the potential of jail time. Many serious crimes will carry a minimum jail sentence. Beyond that, you will be living with the impacts of a conviction for a long time to come. For example, college students may be left with a criminal record for years into the future, which is visible when they are trying to find a job.
Before you settle on a path forward in your criminal case, you need to understand the ramifications of the choices that you make.
Our experienced Columbia criminal defense attorneys will take the time to learn about you and your situation before we give you legal advice about the best possible path in your case. You are far more than a number to us — you are a human being who is going through a very difficult time.
What Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Do?
You will first speak with a criminal defense lawyer during your initial consultation. This conversation could be a quick phone or video chat where you describe the facts of the case to your attorney and briefly get to know them. While you need to make the right decision about which attorney you will hire, you also do not get much time to make the choice.
Here is what our criminal lawyers in Columbia will do once you hire them to represent you:
- Investigate and get to know the facts of your case, so you know the strengths and weaknesses in your legal position
- Gather evidence and speak to witnesses who may testify on your behalf
- Explain your legal options in your case
- Look for possible defenses that can either keep the prosecutor from being able to meet the elements of the charges or that serve as affirmative defenses; an affirmative defense is something along the lines of “yes, I did it, but…”
- Communicate with the prosecutor about a potential plea deal and negotiate if you decide to go down that road; there is almost always some discussion of a deal at some point in the case
- Challenge any evidence against you that was improperly obtained or violates other Federal Rules of Evidence
- Defend you in court if your case goes all the way to trial
There is little to nothing that you should be doing on your own during the criminal justice process. An attorney has the knowledge and experience to fight for the best possible outcome in your case, whether it is clearing your name or a lesser penalty.
Hiring your own lawyer gives you someone who will stand up for you and be available to you. On average, defendants who hire their own lawyer (as opposed to representing themselves or being appointed a lawyer not of their own choosing) will obtain a better result, whether it is an acquittal or a lighter sentence.
Your Legal Rights in a South Carolina Criminal Case
Lawyers will always talk about your legal rights and making sure that they have not been violated. You may be wondering what your legal rights are in a criminal case.
Your legal rights come from the United States Constitution, and law enforcement cannot violate them. If they have failed to uphold your legal rights, there are remedies that could mean the outright dismissal of your case or suppressing evidence that the prosecutor would need to prove their case against you.
You have the right to:
- A trial without unnecessary delay
- Be free from an illegal search or seizure (including an arrest)
- Your own attorney
- A trial by an impartial jury
- Confront those who are testifying against you
Much of your case depends on these exercising rights. The United States Supreme Court and South Carolina courts have centuries worth of cases, adding additional rules about your legal rights.
If you do not have a lawyer, you would not know of the full scope and extent of your rights. Not knowing what law enforcement cannot do is not necessarily going to be an effective defense if you say something that you should not have to the police.
Hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible in your case. If the police see that you are unrepresented, they could take additional liberties that can compromise your rights.
Why Hire Our Criminal Defense Attorneys for Your Case?
When you hire Shealey Law Firm, you are placing your future in our hands, and it’s a matter we don’t take lightly. You need to know that you can trust your lawyer, both to provide you with the service you require and to do everything in their power to fight for you.
The right strategy depends on each case. While many cases could reach a plea bargain, you must have a lawyer with courtroom experience if you choose to fight the charges. Our attorneys are experienced in the courtroom and trial-ready. Prosecutors know our reputation, and they understand that we are skilled and passionate advocates.
Our lawyers have a track record of obtaining results for our clients that include:
- Complete acquittals at trial
- Favorable plea bargains
- Dropped charges before the case reaches trial
Criminal Defense Case FAQs
What should I do if I am contacted by an investigator asking me to come and give a statement to law enforcement?
Even if you are completely innocent, you should be very cautious when scheduling an interview with law enforcement, and in fact it is often in your best interest to immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer before proceeding with an in-person interview.
After hearing the case we may suggest that it is not in your best interest to be interviewed by law enforcement, as everything you say can potentially be used against you in a future proceeding. You are presumed innocent so make sure you contact a trusted criminal lawyer first before speaking with law enforcement.
What should I do if I learn that there is a warrant out for my arrest?
If you become aware that there is an active warrant out for your arrest, you should immediately contact a trusted criminal lawyer to ensure that you can safely turn yourself in without further incriminating yourself.
The criminal process cannot get initiated with the court system until the warrant is served on you and you are processed through the jail. It is important to remain silent at this point, allow a trusted criminal lawyer to arrange a turn into the jail at a time that is convenient to you, and to also appear at your bond setting to ensure that you get the lowest bond possible.
What should I do if the alleged victim in the case wishes to drop the charges, but I have a no-contact provision of my bond?
You should never violate a no-contact condition of bond, even if you are being contacted by the alleged victim seeking to drop the charges. Immediately contact a trusted criminal lawyer and they, once retained, can reach out on your behalf to your alleged victim to see what their position is on the case. If they wish to drop the charges, we can take an affidavit from the alleged victim and present it to the prosecution to facilitate the case being dismissed.
Can I hire an attorney if I have been charged as a minor? Do I need a parent or guardian with me?
Typically, a minor needs a parent or guardian present for getting a lawyer involved. Most juvenile offenses occur in family court and create unique challenges that can result in serious life-long consequences. The potential for harsh consequences is why it is important to have a criminal defense attorney, as well as a parent or guardian, involved throughout the process.
Even though a juvenile’s case will most likely be handled in family court where their record is sealed, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to prevent collateral consequences that can arise out of a conviction in family court.
Do I need to pay the entire legal fee at one time?
No. Legal fees are determined on a case-by-case basis. However, it is common to be allowed to put down a substantial retainer and then pay the remaining balance on a month-to-month basis. Because the total cost of representation and the payment plan is fact-specific, we will need to conduct a consult to determine a client’s exact legal fee and payment structure.
Does the Shealey Law Firm only handle state level cases? Can the firm handle cases on the federal level?
The Shealey Law Firm is licensed to practice law in both SC state and federal courts. The Shealey Law Firm is able to take any case where there are charges on the state or federal level. Also, our team is licensed to practice in the United States Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
Does the Shealey Law Firm travel outside of Columbia to take new cases?
Yes! The Shealey Law Firm maintains a statewide practice and will travel anywhere in South Carolina to represent a client.
I have multiple charges. Do I need to hire an attorney separately for each one? Or can I hire an attorney to handle the entire incident?
The Shealey Law Firm would actually prefer to represent a client on all of his/her criminal charges in which they are facing. This is because it is more beneficial for us and to the client for one team to be in control of the client’s defense across the board.
No matter the jurisdiction, this allows for us to have the most comprehensive view of the case and maintain full control over the situation, thus allowing for more legal leverage.
I have only been charged with a misdemeanor. Does that mean I still need an attorney?
Yes! The term ‘misdemeanor’ is a little misleading because it leads people to believe the charges are minor. Some misdemeanors, such as DUIs, can have long-lasting consequences.
In South Carolina, some common law misdemeanors can carry up to 10 years in prison, even though they are technically labeled as misdemeanors. Whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, you must consider hiring an attorney well-versed in criminal law.
I have not yet been charged but I fear that I will be soon. Do I have to wait until I am charged to hire an attorney?
No. You do not have to wait until you are charged to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. In fact, it is often in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you might suspect you will be charged or investigated. Hiring us before you are charged allows the Shealey Law Firm to directly deal with law enforcement so you do not subject yourself to questioning and/or interrogation. This allows us to get an early grip on the investigation so we can best prevent a criminal charge.
Additionally, if there is a warrant that already exists and you hire the Shealey Law Firm, we can coordinate your turn-in in a safe and efficient manner. This allows us to be there at the first critical stage of your case, the bond hearing.
I am not from South Carolina, but I have been charged in South Carolina. while visiting from out of state. Where do I need to hire an attorney?
It is always best to hire a criminal defense attorney that is licensed to practice in South Carolina and also does so regularly. You want a criminal defense attorney that is well-versed and familiar with the local prosecutors, law enforcement and local legal landscape.
Is there a set amount of time I have to hire an attorney? Or can I hire an attorney at any point in my case?
While it is always best to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, we frequently get retained in later stages of the case. This is still fine as long as we can prioritize the legal objectives necessary to have a successful outcome.
Once we are hired, the first step is to get discovery and, once received, we will perform a legal analysis and conduct a legal investigation as necessary to achieve the desirable outcome.
We have also gotten involved right before trial. Nothing is more stressful for a client than being faced with an imminent trial and not being happy with their current representation.
We are frequently sought after and consulted with when trial seems a true reality and a client is often looking for the most experienced and trustworthy criminal defense team to represent them for their day in court. This is generally not the best practice, but it is better to have an experienced team on your side late in the game rather than not at all.
Does every criminal case go to trial?
No. However, it is always a possibility. All of our clients have a right to trial and to a speedy trial. We always try to use our experience, knowledge of law, and knowledge of the local prosecutor’s office and law enforcement to avoid the risk of trial but at the same time preparing every element of a case in case we have to conduct a trial on our client’s behalf.
Am I able to initiate a civil lawsuit stemming from the same incident that resulted in criminal charges?
Absolutely. We often will file a 1983 claim, false imprisonment and use of force against law enforcement. We will also bring a case stemming from a criminal incident if it lacked probable cause or there was use of excessive force by law enforcement. Often these are suits we bring after we get the criminal case dismissed.
I am a family member of someone accused of a crime and looking to hire a criminal defense attorney on their behalf. Am I able to do this?
Yes. We talk to family members of potential clients frequently. Often, a potential client’s family is the best to give general information on the client and the situation. After talking to the family, we will then meet with the incarcerated person. If the client is not incarcerated, we can meet all together so long as the client is comfortable.
Do you accept jail phone calls from criminal defendants? Do you visit criminal defendants at the jail?
We would prefer to have in-person client meetings in the jail so we do not waive attorney-client privileges by speaking to the client since calls from the jail are recorded. Attorneys that accept phone calls from jail clients waive this privilege. We also can communicate via official legal correspondence.
I am looking to hire not just a criminal defense attorney, but a legal team. Is that possible?
It is possible — and at the Shealey Law Firm, it is a standard. We are structured to tackle all of our cases as a legal defense team. You are never getting just one attorney. You are getting a wealth of experience from a team of criminal defense lawyers and staff.
Do I need a criminal attorney if I am the victim of a crime?
Sometimes it is helpful if a victim hires a lawyer if they want his/her voice heard because they are trying to get the charges dropped. They can also hire a lawyer to represent their interests and oftentimes it is the most effective way to voice concerns.
I have co-defendants involved in my criminal charges. Can we all hire the same criminal defense attorney?
Normally, it would be unethical to represent co-defendants in a serious case as your defenses may not align and often co-defendants try to implicate each other. On rare occasions, defenses can align, but only so long as co-defendants sign a waiver allowing for co-representation.
I already have a public defender assigned to my case. May I still hire my own private criminal defense attorney if I am able to pay the retainer?
Absolutely. You always have the right to hire the criminal defense attorney of your choosing. It is normal for our firm to get hired onto a case where representation began with the Public Defender’s Office. Once retained, we contact the public defender, relieve them of their representation, and begin working on your case.
I have already been convicted of a criminal charge and I am looking to get my record expunged. Can the Shealey Law Firm help me with that?
We are well-versed in South Carolina’s expungement statute and we can help you navigate the process. Each client’s situation will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis to see whether the expungement statute can apply and how. Everything depends on the seriousness of your convictions, as well as the time frame between last and current convictions on your record.
Is PTI an option for me if I have done it in the past?
You can only do PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) once. To be eligible, you must have a qualifying offense per the Pre-Trial Intervention statute. You also typically need permission of the solicitor and/or victim in case.
Our Columbia Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You
At Shealey Law Firm, we fiercely defend clients from criminal charges in Columbia, South Carolina.
We believe that the most serious criminal charges deserve a determined defense, no matter the alleged crime of which you stand accused. We will leave no stone unturned in your case.
Call the attorneys at Shealey Law Firm today and let us represent you.