It's hard to overstate just how much is at stake when you're under investigation or facing criminal charges.
Your freedom, finances, and future all hang in the balance.
Recently, South Carolina courts have issued a number of sentences that have attracted prominent attention, including:
- A 20-year-old Columbia man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for an attempted armed robbery and manslaughter in 2017.
- In May, a 36-year-old Mount Pleasant man was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison for wire, bank, mail, and health care fraud.
- A South Carolina inmate had another 66 months added to his sentence for money laundering.
Our state doles out stiff penalties for criminal violations like DUI, opioid charges, and assault. For the best outcome in your case, you need to choose the right lawyer for the job. For instance, if you're facing cocaine charges, you wouldn't want to hire a lawyer who spends most of his or her time handling cases involving workers' compensation.
How do I choose a good criminal defense lawyer?
The following are some tips on how to choose the right criminal defense lawyer for you.
Get a specialist — with an edge
The right lawyer for you is someone who specializes in the type of charges you are facing. Many lawyers try to be jacks of all trades. They may know a little about burglary defenses, or perhaps they've worked a prescription drug case, maybe they only take on new clients charged with fraud when their case count is low.
That's not good enough.
The law is very complex. As such, you need an attorney who has spent years fighting the types of charges you are facing. Your attorney needs to come ready with battle-tested defense techniques that fit your needs.
If you've narrowed your choices down to a few lawyers, choose the attorney with an edge — something that makes him or her stand out from the pack.
Do not gamble with your future when you're facing criminal charges. If you are staring down imprisonment, steep fines, or some other penalty that threatens your freedom, do not rely on someone who needs directions to the courthouse.
You need a trial-tested lawyer who understands South Carolina law, federal law, and how the justice system works.
Read reviews and ask friends who have used criminal defense attorneys in the past. Everyone gets a bad rating now and then, but overall, great lawyers have great reviews.
Communication is key
There are some truly great criminal defense attorneys out there, but just because you hire one doesn't mean you'll actually talk to them. Some attorneys don't respond quickly to questions or give regular case updates. Others have their staff handle clients.
With your future on the line, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is ready and available for your calls and questions. Make sure that you personally speak to the attorney you are hiring before choosing representation.
Tips from the South Carolina Bar
The South Carolina Bar has a list of questions they recommend everyone ask when seeking a lawyer. If you're close to hiring someone, don't hesitate to ask the following:
- What result should I expect for my case? Am I likely to get the outcome I want or am I wasting my money?
- How long might it take to resolve the case?
- Do you offer a payment plan for your services?
- Will I be charged for talking to you on the phone? Am I charged if I talk to your staff? What exactly is billable time?
Get a criminal defense attorney who knows South Carolina
If you're facing criminal charges in Columbia, SC, or anywhere in the region, it's a good idea to consult a criminal defense lawyer to learn your legal rights and options.
Attorney Matt Bodman is a former Richland County prosecutor who since founding his own private practice has helped a multitude of clients avoid jail. That's because he has an insider's understanding of how the prosecution works, the strategies they use, and how best to beat them.
"Mr. Matt Bodman was very knowledgeable, easy to contact with questions, and professional. He guided us through a legal process that gave us peace of mind. Thank you for your service." — 5-star review on Google by Deborah M.