Murder Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Murder is the most serious crime under SC state law – it carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and up to life in prison. In some cases, the state will serve notice that they intend to seek the death penalty…
Police and prosecutors aggressively investigate and prosecute homicide cases in SC, and, if you do not have an experienced murder defense attorney on your side, you may be at a disadvantage and falling behind even before the warrant is served on you…
Every murder case does not end in a conviction – what are the possible outcomes? What needs to be done to prepare a murder case for trial?
What are the Possible Outcomes in a SC Murder Trial?
Murder charges don’t always end in a conviction and life sentence – the charges could be dismissed, jurors may find the defendant not guilty, or the charges can be reduced by the prosecutor, judge, or jury to a “lesser included offense” that carries less prison time.
When are Murder Charges Dismissed?
In some cases, an independent investigation can reveal that our client is innocent of the charges – with evidence and testimony that contradicts the state’s allegations, murder charges can be dismissed before trial or jurors can acquit you of the charges.
In other cases, our investigation may reveal that the state’s evidence is not as strong as they thought it would be – witnesses may recant and disclose that investigators or police forced them to make statements against our client, defense experts may discover that the state’s forensic evidence is not as strong as the police thought, or key evidence may be excluded due to constitutional violations.
When Police and Prosecutors Get it Wrong…
Depending on the facts of the case, the prosecutor can reduce charges before trial. When there is insufficient evidence to prove murder, but there is still evidence of a lesser included offense, the court can reduce the charges either before trial or at the directed verdict stage of the trial.
At the end of a murder trial, the jurors also can reject the murder charges and instead find a defendant guilty of a lesser-included offense based on the evidence presented. Some examples of lesser-included offenses or lesser crimes that may fit the facts of a case include:
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter;
- Accessory before or after the fact to murder;
- Obstruction of justice; or
- Misprision of a felony.
Do I Need Expert Witnesses if I’ve Been Charged with Murder?
Most murder prosecutions involve forensic evidence that will be presented by the state, and there may be numerous other issues that require the help of defense experts to analyze the state’s evidence and to testify at your trial.
Some of the more common issues that may require expert testimony include:
- Forensic evidence like DNA, fingerprints, footwear impressions, gunshot residue, and ballistics;
- Crime scene analysis;
- Eyewitness identifications – especially cross-racial identifications;
- Coerced confessions;
- Cell phone technology; and
- Forensic evaluations for competency or criminal responsibility.
What is SC’s Stand Your Ground Law?
South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” law, or the Defense of Persons and Property Act, codifies “the Castle Doctrine.”
In SC, you do not have to retreat if you are being attacked, if you are in any place where you have a legal right to be. If you are in your home, your business, your car, or just walking down the sidewalk, you have the right to stand your ground and defend yourself even if it means using deadly force.
If you are in your home or vehicle, you have the right to eject someone who is attempting to force their way in, even if it means using deadly force.
SC’s Defense of Persons and Property Act provides for immunity from prosecution if you meet the requirements of the law – you can ask for a pretrial hearing where you can present evidence and witness testimony to establish immunity. If the court agrees, your case is over unless the state appeals the decision.
On the other hand, if the court does not agree, you must go to trial and be convicted before you can appeal the court’s decision…
SC Murder Defense Attorney in Charleston
If you have been charged with murder in Charleston, SC, the state is building their case against you and your time is running out – you need an experienced murder defense lawyer immediately who can help you to investigate, negotiate, and try your case to a jury if it is not dismissed.
If you or a loved one is facing homicide charges in SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.