Wednesday May 24 2017
Have you or a family member been charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor in Circuit Court, Magistrate Court or City Court? DUI, robbery, drug charges, or murder, our lawyers are available to review your criminal charges and possible defenses.

 

Criminal Law

We have extensive experience in the practice of criminal law handling practically all types of criminal cases, including Murder, Armed Robbery, Burglary, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Larceny, Drug Offenses, Assault & Battery, DUI and many others.  Our defense work has lead to many successful resolutions including one case that went to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The State of S.C. v. Miller

If you are charged with a criminal offense, whether it’s an offense triable in Magistrate’s Court, City Court, or Circuit Court, it’s important that you hire an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. Although not meant to be a substitute for experienced legal representation, here are a few things you might find helpful.

Should you talk to the Police?

Each situation is different and there may be times that talking to the police might be helpful, but as a general rule, it is a bad idea to talk to the police or give a statement without legal counsel present. If you are under arrest of even if you have not yet been charged, but you have been detained by the police, you may be ‘in custody,’ so that you must be advised of your Miranda rights before you can be questioned by the police. You have the right to remain silent and in most cases, you should remain silent. If you are questioned by the police, the best response is to ask for a lawyer before you say anything else.

What happens if you can’t afford a lawyer?

If you have little or no income, you can apply for a free lawyer. If you qualify, an attorney from the public defender’s office will represent you. Although the attorneys in the public defender’s office are good attorneys, they have a very large caseload and might not be able to give your case the attention that you think it needs. If you or your family can put together enough money to hire an attorney, you should do so. See our section on legal fees to get an idea on how we charge in criminal cases.

Aren’t ‘big city’ lawyers better?

The simple answer is no. A local lawyer is likely to know the local system a lot better than a lawyer from out of town.

Do you need a preliminary hearing?

If you are charged with an offense triable in General Sessions Court, you are entitled to a preliminary hearing. However, you only have 10 days from your date of arrest to request a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a ‘probably cause’ hearing and a defendant is not allowed to testify, call witnesses or present any evidence. Therefore, a preliminary hearing has limited value. If you are entitled to a preliminary hearing, you should always request one. However, let your attorney decide whether to have the hearing or review the hearing. Most of the time, your lawyer will be able to get all other information he needs by filing the appropriate discovery motions. If you do not have an attorney, the preliminary hearing will most likely not do you any good. Don’t expect your case to get dismissed at the preliminary hearing. However, occasionally, it does happen and a good lawyer knows when a hearing may do some good and when it will not.

A Word about Bond

If your warrant was signed by a Magistrate, then your bond will be set by a Magistrate. If your warrant was signed by a City Judge, then your bond will be set by a City Judge. However, if you are charged with a crime where the maximum sentence is life in prison, such as murder, burglary in the first degree, or Criminal Sexual Conduct with a minor in the first degree, then your bond must be set by a Circuit judge. In these events, you will need a lawyer to file a motion for bond and take you in front of a Circuit Court Judge.

Whether your bond is set by a City Judge, a Magistrate or a Circuit Court Judge, the factors which are to be used by the court is whether you are a flight risk and/or whether you are a danger to society. Normally, a person would not be a flight risk if he or she has substantial ties to the local community, such as family and/or a job. A person may be considered a flight risk if he or she is from out of state and has no local ties. A person can be considered a danger to the community based upon the seriousness of the offense and the person’s prior record. This does not necessarily mean that bond would or should be denied, it only means that the bond would be in a higher amount. If the Magistrate or City Judge sets a life bond, a lawyer can file a motion with the Circuit Court asking the Circuit Court Judge to reduce your bond. Therefore, if you or a loved one is in jail and a high bond has been set, a lawyer may be able to get the bond reduced.

If you have been charged and need a bond set or reduced, I would be glad to consider taking your case. However, I do not take cases for the limited purpose of a bond hearing. I have found that taking a case for the limited purpose of a bond hearing usually has an unsatisfactory result. There are so many factors involved in properly handling a criminal case, you can’t just take a case for a limited purpose.

One final word -- While nobody wants to stay in jail, it is unwise to spend all of your money on bond and have nothing left over to hire a lawyer.

 

DUI – To Blow or Not To Blow

If you are charged with DUI, you will be offered a breath test to determine the amount of alcohol in your system. The breath machine is called a Datamaster. You will be taken into a room where the machine is located. The entire procedure will be video taped, so be careful what you say or do. Getting into an argument with the officer is the last thing you want to do. You will have the choice to take the breath test or not. If you do not take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days for not taking the test. However, under the current DUI law, your license will be suspended if you blow .16 or higher. In addition, if you are convicted of DUI, the penalty goes up for higher breath readings. Therefore, if you really only had 2 beers, then take the test. If you had more than you can remember, don’t take the test. For anything in between, you’re probably better off not taking the test.

Important Dates to Remember

If you are charged with an offense triable in General Sessions Court, you will be given a notice when you get out of jail that informs you of the date and time of your 1st appearance and your 2nd appearance. First appearances are always at 9am and 2nd appearances are always at 2pm. If you did not appear for your first appearance, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. Likewise, you must also appear for your 2nd appearance. Also, when your case is put on the trial docket, you must appear on the first day of court and receive instructions as to when to return. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will let you know when to be back for court.

Stay in Touch

If we represent you, we will let you know when to come to court after your 1st and 2nd appearances. However, if you don’t let us know that your address or phone number has changed, we can’t get in touch with you.

The Law Firm of Winter & Rhoden was established in December of 1991 by William E. Winter, Jr. and William G. Rhoden. The law firm was operated as a partnership until Mr. Winter’s untimely death in July 2008. After Mr. Winter’s death, Mr. Rhoden chose to keep the name of Winter & Rhoden in honor of his law partner. The firm operates now as Winter & Rhoden, LLC. The practice is located ½ block from the Cherokee County Courthouse at the street address of 221 E Floyd Baker Blvd in the heart of the City of Gaffney. We are a general practice law firm with a staff of three in addition to Mr. Rhoden & Mrs. Parker. We offer legal services in the areas of Divorce, Child Custody, and Family law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, Workers' Compensation, Appeals to all state courts, Probate, Wills and Powers of Attorney.

Have you or a family member been charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor in Circuit Court, Magistrate Court or City Court? DUI, robbery, drug charges, or murder, our lawyers are available to review your criminal charges and possible defenses.
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