What follows is an outline of the process that a criminal case takes as it works its way through the state courts of South Carolina (many of these principles apply to federal prosecutions as well).
Initial Bond Setting
The State (the prosecutor) will present testimony from the investigating police officer regarding what evidence they have to support the charges. The more formal trial rules regarding evidence are relaxed during this hearing, allowing the officer to describe the evidence without having to bring the items or witnesses with him to court. The defense attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the officer, but cannot submit any evidence or testimony. This is not a mini-trial. It is solely for the judge to get a basic outline of the case. At the conclusion of the State’s presentation, the defense attorney can ask to the case to be dismissed if the evidence presented is insufficient. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to support the charges, the case is “bound over” (formally sent) to General Sessions court for trial.