Your Constitutional Rights

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

We take great pride in defending those accused of crimes because our Founding Fathers secured this noble calling in the Constitution of the United States and the South Carolina Constitution. Criminal defense attorneys have been called “Liberty’s Last Champions” because we fight to protect our clients’ constitutional rights and to secure our clients’ freedom. To quote my mentor, John Delgado: “If the prosecutor represents the Government, we [as criminal defense attorneys] represent the Constitution.”

Click here to learn questions about other frequently asked questions about your legal rights.

RIGHT TO COUNSEL (ATTORNEY)

  • You have the right to a lawyer who will represent you against the Government’s accusation.
  • If you are indigent (poor), a lawyer commonly known as a public defender will represent you.
  • If you are not poor, you should hire a lawyer that will fight to protect your constitutional rights, your reputation, and your freedom.
  • Your lawyer should competently represent your best interests.
  • Your lawyer should zealously advocate on your behalf.
  • Your lawyer should communicate with you during this overwhelming and stressful process.
  • Your lawyer should know the law and the tactics used by police and prosecutors to obtain a conviction.
  • Your lawyer should explain the confusing legal system and court procedures to you and your family.
  • Your lawyer should diligently investigate the case and intelligently prepare your defense.
  • Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT (AGAINST SELF INCRIMINATION)

  • You do not have to answer any questions without the advice and presence of your lawyer.
  • Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 12 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT TO REFUSE SEARCH OR SEIZURE (AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES, SEIZURES, AND INVASIONS OF PRIVACY)

  • Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the South Carolina Constitution
  • You have the right to refuse a search of your person or property. WARNING: There are exceptions for police officer safety (e.g., pat-down search), exigent circumstances (e.g, hot pursuit or destruction of evidence), or a finding of probable cause.

RIGHT TO REFUSE TESTS, LINEUPS, AND IDENTIFICATION PROCEDURES

  • You have the right to refuse any test, lineup, or identification procedure.
  • Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the South Carolina Constitution.
  • For DUI cases, this includes field sobriety tests and the breath test DataMaster DMT (mistakenly known as the Breathalyzer test). WARNING: Pursuant to South Carolina’s Implied Consent law, if you refuse to submit a breath sample, your driver’s license will be suspended for six (6) months unless you request a contested case hearing in the Administrative Law Court within thirty (30) days of your arrest. However, if you provide a breath sample and your blood-alcohol level is above 0.15, your driver’s license will be suspended for thirty (30) days unless your request a contested case hearing.
  • Learn more about South Carolina’s Implied Consent law.

RIGHT TO CONFRONTATION

  • You have the right to cross-examine any witness the Government is using to prove the alleged crime against you.
  • In other words, your lawyer can question the police and any person who testifies against you.
  • Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS

  • You must not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law.
  • In other words, you have the right to a fundamentally fair justice system, and your lawyer can fight against any unfair procedure that occurred during the police investigation, arrest, or trial.
  • Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT TO COMPEL WITNESSES (REQUIRE ATTENDANCE IN COURT)

  • You have the right to call any witnesses in your defense.
  • In other words, if there is someone who knows the truth and can contradict the State’s evidence, your lawyer can call them to testify on your behalf.
  • Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT AGAINST CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT

  • You have the right against excessive fees and cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 15 of the South Carolina Constitution.

RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY

  • You have the right to a speedy and public jury trial.
  • Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution

RIGHT TO BAIL (PROHIBITION AGAINST EXCESSIVE BAIL)

  • Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 15 of the South Carolina Constitution.

 RIGHT TO PRESENT A DEFENSE

  • Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 14 of the South Carolina Constitution

 RIGHT TO UNANIMOUS VERDICT

  • Article V, Section 18 of the South Carolina Constitution

 RIGHT AGAINST DOUBLE JEOPARDY

  • Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 12 of the South Carolina Constitution

RESOURCES