South Carolina Court Records
What Do You Do If You Are On Trial For a Crime in South Carolina?
After an arrest is conducted in South Carolina, the accused is usually advised to get a legal advisor. Where their alleged crime is not a capital offense, they may petition for bail under, Title 17 ch.15 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. At the preliminary hearing, a defendant can challenge whether the probable cause for arrest was substantial or not. Then at the defendant’s first formal court appearance (known as the roll call), the individual’s lawyer can enter a plea bargain.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in South Carolina?
Every year the South Carolina Judicial Branch releases a report on all the court activities in the state. According to the 2019 report, the state recorded 263,474 cases during the first half of the year. Another 143,936 cases were recorded during the second half. 131,297 dispositions were recorded in the first period, with 11,760 recorded later. The report showed that only about 2% of court cases go to trial. Even when the criminal cases get to trial, they are resolved quickly. One major factor responsible for this is, most cases get resolved through plea bargains.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
In South Carolina, every criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial, as stated in section 14–25–125 of the state’s law. Municipal court judges are the fact-finders in most South Carolina criminal cases. Under section 15–67–640, a defendant has the right to appeal to a higher court within the state. An accused person may waive the right to be represented by a lawyer; however, if the defendant chooses to plead guilty, then that person has given up the right to a jury trial.
What Are The Stages of a Criminal Trial in South Carolina?
There are two sets of criminal trial procedures used in South Carolina. Their distinction is founded on the legislative line between courts with general jurisdiction (circuit court) and limited jurisdiction (magistrate’s court). The entire criminal trial procedure in the state is as follows:
- Selecting the jury (Voir Dire)
- Taking notes & preserving testimony
- Conducting the trial
- Instruction to the jury from the court
- Jury deliberation
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in South Carolina?
It usually takes a year from the day a complaint is filed before it is brought to trial in South Carolina. Although the state’s constitution accommodates the right to a speedy trial, certain factors result in some cases taking about 18–24 months before they reach trial.
Eligible persons may petition for a speedy trial to accelerate the process. Filing a motion for a reduction in bonds due to an absurdly long pre-trial detention is another way to speed things up. However, the best suggestion is to discuss with the lawyer, as each case is different; therefore, what might work for a case may fail in another.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, criminal trial procedures depend on the court handling the case. In the state’s municipal courts, trials are heard by a 6-man jury, all selected from the region’s qualified electors. For the magistrate courts, however, section 22–2–90 of the South Carolina law states that each party will challenge each other to select six jurors and four alternate jurors from a preselected list of 30 names.
In both courts, all jurors will be investigated to affirm that they will not be biased. Afterward, testimonies will be recorded except (like in magistrate courts) the defendant waives the right to do so. At the trial, the two parties are entitled to make opening statements, reveal evidence, and give closing statements. The judge of either the magistrate or municipal courts’ must instruct the jury on the statute concerned in the case and how they are to approach the judgment. This is stated in article V, §21 of the state’s judicial law.
All judges are expected to avoid interrogating the witnesses in a trial except when the witness’s answer is unclear. Then the judge can ask questions until the uncertainty is removed. All the jurors will be allowed to deliberate until they reach a unanimous decision on whether the accused is guilty or not.
Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in South Carolina?
No, it is impossible to put the same person on trial, twice, for the same charge in South Carolina. The double jeopardy law is a federal statute that protects individuals against this. However, the law does not apply if two U.S states believe a person has broken state laws. The U.S constitution provides for this, and in such situations, the crime is not regarded as a single crime.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, interested persons can obtain public court case files from the appropriate clerk of courts’ office. This is provided in section 30–4–30 of the state’s judicial code. All counties have their clerks, and according to section 14–17–510, they are charged with the recording and maintenance of court documents. However, individuals are advised to contact the appropriate clerk of courts to know if the record they seek is considered a public document.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in South Carolina
State residents can access the state’s court records online through the South Carolina Judicial Branch website. Requesters may search for case records by county or court type. For old public court dockets, the SCDAH (South Carolina department of archives and history might prove especially useful. The appellate case management (South Carolina) grants requesters access to both supreme and appellate court records. To perform a record search, the requester will need details such as court type, case title, appellate case number, case type, etc. In addition, there are numerous third-party websites concerned with delivering South Carolina court records in the public domain.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in South Carolina?
For an individual’s court record to be removed from the public domain in South Carolina, such an individual has to file a petition for expungement to the solicitor’s office in the appropriate circuit court. The conditions necessary for the expungement of a criminal record are stated under section 17–1–40(B). All applicants applying for an expungement will have to pay a $250 non-refundable administrative fee to the appropriate solicitor’s office.
The other payments (to be paid where applicable) include:
- A $35 filing fee to the clerk of courts in the county
- A $25 verification fee to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
However, according to section 17–22–940, individuals that request an expungement from the general session solicitor’s office are excluded from paying the administrative charges.