Criminal Defense &
We Believe In You
We’re committed to providing our clients with experienced, aggressive reprentation in all areas of criminal defense, appeals, personal injury, and post-conviction relief. With an office in downtown Charleston, we are conveniently located to handle your needs throughout South Carolina on both the state and federal level. Protect your rights! Call Geel Law Firm today!
Chris is an experienced litigator licensed in both Georgia and South Carolina who has successfully defended clients throughout the Southeast. Originally from New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and his law degree from Emory School of Law. He has tried and won cases in both state and federal courts, including the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
Get a free case evaluation. Call (843) 277-5080.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your Legal Questions Answered
In most cases, you can get your loved one out of jail within 24 hours of their arrest. Within a short period of time (usually the same day) after being arrested, a defendant will be given an initial bond setting. If the defendant has an attorney at that proceeding, the attorney will have the opportunity to explain to the Judge why the individual should be released from jail while the charges are pending. The Judge will consider several factors when deciding whether to release an individual from jail, including (1) their ties to the local community, (2) whether they have a job, (3) whether they have a criminal record, (4) whether they had other charges pending when they were arrested, (5) whether they are currently on probation or parole, and (6) whether they have retained counsel to represent them for their pending charges.
Judges at the initial bond-setting do not have the authority to set bond on charges that potentially carry a life sentence. This includes (1) murder, (2) homicide by child abuse, (3) criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and (4) burglary. Defendants may be released on bond for those charges, but the bond hearing must be conducted by a circuit court Judge in General Sessions, which can take several weeks to schedule. Additionally, Judges at initial bond-settings may decline to set bond for charges that they are otherwise permitted to set bond for, if they feel that the defendant’s case requires special attention. This sometimes happens in major felony cases, such as armed robbery, strong-arm robbery, ABHAN, and serious domestic violence cases.
If your loved one is granted a bond on their charge(s), they will either be released immediately without having to make special arrangements (this is called a “PR bond”), or they will have to post bond in order to be released. “Posting bond” means submitting money to the Clerk of Court that the Clerk will hold until the case is concluded. If the defendant fails to appear for court when the case is called, the bond money is forfeited to the Clerk. Most families do not have enough cash to directly post bond, and they will need to employ the services of a bondsman. A bondsman is an individual who is authorized by law to post the bond money on your behalf. In exchange for doing so, they typically charge a non-refundable fee.
There are 6 categories of arrests and/or convictions that can be removed from your criminal history by expungement. They are as follows:
- Charges that have been dismissed because you completed a Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI).
- Charges that were dismissed prior to trial, or charges that you took to trial and were found not-guilty.
- First-time misdemeanor convictions, if you have gone 3 years from the date of conviction without any additional convictions. (this time frame is extended to 5 years for domestic violence convictions).
- Charges that were resolved with a guilty plea under the Youthful Offenders Act (YOA), provided that 5 years have passed since the completion of the sentence, and you have no additional convictions on your record.
- First convictions for Fraudulent Check or Failure to Stop for Blue Lights are eligible for expungement in some circumstances.
- Charges that were resolved with a Conditional Discharge plea. This type of plea is only available for first-time drug possession crimes, and they allow the charge to be expunged after the defendant has completed a term of probation.
Yes. Unfortunately, in some circumstances an individual’s best option when he/she is facing serious criminal charges is to cooperate with the prosecution, and to help them to build new cases. This usually requires the individual to consent to an interview (this is normally called a “proffer” or a “debriefing”), and they will be required to answer any questions that the prosecutor and law enforcement officers ask. The client may be interviewed numerous times, and may even have to testify in court. Providing information to the government can be extremely risky, and it is imperative that an individual have a skilled attorney to guide them through the process, and ensure that they get the best possible result in exchange for their cooperation. Call our office if you find yourself in this position.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to prevent your arrest from being discovered by anyone who is specifically seeking it out. Once you are arrested, an entry is made into your criminal history by SLED. The entry will indicate when and where you were arrested, and it will state the charge(s) against you. As soon as this entry is made, the arrest will be known to any individual who conducts a criminal background check on you. If you have been arrested, you should bear this in mind if you are considering changing jobs, moving to a new apartment, or doing anything that will require you to undergo a criminal background check.
It is also important to note that criminal charges are public filings, and many Clerk’s Offices maintain databases that are available and searchable by the public over the internet. Additionally, many county jails maintain public records of individuals who have been booked into the jail, and some counties even provide mugshots, which are available even after you have been released from the jail. Also, numerous internet websites download and re-post mugshots from these kinds of public databases. (Note: it is now illegal for a website to charge a fee to remove mugshots from their websites, See SC Code 17-1-60).
If you have an arrest record that you would like to have removed, the legal route you must take is to seek out an expungement. Click here to read more about the expungement process.
This situation comes up regularly in domestic violence cases. Unfortunately, once the police and prosecutors get involved, the alleged victim no longer has the authority to drop the charges on their own. The best thing that an alleged victim can do is contact the Solicitor and state that the charges should be dropped. The Solicitor may ask the alleged victim to come to their office in order to fill out a “drop charge” form. They may take that opportunity to interview the alleged victim again. If the alleged victim confirms that the domestic violence incident did take place, the Solicitor will likely decline to drop the charges. If the alleged victim states that they made a false police report, the Solicitor may inform them that submitting false police reports is illegal, and could result in the alleged victim being criminally charged. The alleged victim should bear in mind that he/she is not required to provide any statements to the Solicitor’s Office, and they can simply request that the charges be dropped without providing any further information. Additionally, it may be helpful for the alleged victim to provide the defense attorney with a written statement that requests dismissal of the charges. Even under the best circumstances, it is difficult to get domestic violence charges dismissed completely. And, it often takes time to convince the Solicitor that it is the best course of action. Be sure to contact our office and we can assist you with this process.
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