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 in to 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 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.
What kind of criminal cases does the Shealey Law Firm handle?
The Shealey Law Firm handles all serious criminal matters, this includes but is not limited to alleged murder, sexual assault, property crimes, and aggravated assault. When we practice in magistrate court, we mostly defend against DUIs and many offenses faced by college students. Further, in federal court, we tackle white-collar and drug offenses. Lastly, the Shealey Law Firm gets involved with death penalty cases. All in all, we are capable of helping any client facing criminal allegations, whether it be in state or federal court.
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 or Charleston to take new cases?
Yes! The Shealey Law Firm maintains a statewide practice and will travel anywhere in SC 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 SC, 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 S.C. 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 SC 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 an 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 the 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 often times 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 on 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.