Frequently Asked Questions
Most frequent questions and answers
An arrest is the actual restraint of an individual or an individual’s submission to the custody of a law enforcement officer. If arrested, you have legal rights that protect you from being treated unfairly.
Remember, anything you say may be used against you in court.
You have a right to:
- Refuse to answer any questions or stop answering questions at any point;
- Consult a lawyer (if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you by the court);
- A bond hearing; and
- Notify family or friends.
When arrested, you should not:
- Resist a law enforcement officer;
- Talk back to the officer or be disorderly; or be in violation of any criminal law, often classified as a felony, a misdemeanor or an infraction. A felony is a serious crime such as murder, burglary or robbery. Felonies may be punishable by fine, imprisonment or, in the case of capital murder, death. A misdemeanor, or any crime not classified as a felony, is punishable by fine or imprisonment. Examples include simple assault, driving under the influence, trespassing or minor drug charges. An infraction is a violation of an ordinance or regulation, such as a traffic rule.
A warrant is a court order issued by a magistrate or municipal judge based on sworn information showing probable cause that you have committed a crime. The information may be supplied by a law enforcement officer or any citizen. The warrant requires that an individual be arrested and brought before a judge. If an officer has a warrant for your arrest, the officer must tell you this, give you a copy and tell you why you are being arrested.
South Carolina’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood or breath for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). You may demand the opportunity to take a blood test too, but at your own expense. If you cannot give a breath sample because of injuries or unconsciousness, a blood or urine sample may be taken. You may refuse the breath, blood or urine test, but if you do, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days even if you are not guilty of a crime. If you submit to the test, the results may be used in evidence. A refusal is also admissible.
Remember, any information obtained from you voluntarily, and without the use of force or intimidation, may be used against you in court. You may still refuse to answer questions at any time, even if you have already answered questions.
Signing your own Personal Recognizance Bond: Unless a judge finds that your release is unreasonably dangerous to the community or that you may not return to court voluntarily for your trial. In most cases, you are entitled to bail in an amount and under conditions set by the judge. In Magistrate’s Court, you must enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced. If you plead not guilty, you may be tried either by a judge or a jury. You or your lawyer must request a jury trial at this time.