Darlington County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Darlington County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Darlington County.
At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.
In a jury trial in Darlington County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.
The Right to Counsel
The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The term “Burden of Proof” means that the prosecutor is required to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot provide proof of the defendants guilt, then the judge or jury in a trial must find the defendant not guilty. In the United States the principle innocent until proven guilty derives from this that the defendant is assumed innocent and the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
What happens in Darlington County at an arraignment?
In Darlington County the defendant is brought into court and informed by the judge of the charges that have been filed against them along with informing them of their rights. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, there will be no trial and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date is set.
Right to Jury Trial
For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
What is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.
Where will Darlington County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Darlington County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Darlington County.
Darlington County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Darlington County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Darlington County. The Darlington County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
Who can help me in Darlington County?
For general information about your case the Darlington County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.
Darlington County Required Court Appearances
In Darlington County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.
Darlington County Criminal Court Locations
Darlington County Circuit Court
Address: 1 Public Square, Room B-4, Darlington, SC 29532
Phone: 843-398-4330 Fax: 843-398-4172
Darlington County Magistrate Court – Darlington
Address: 115 Camp Road, Darlington, SC 29532
Darlington County Magistrate Court – Hartsville
Address: 404 South 4th Street, Hartsville, SC 29550
Darlington County Magistrate Court – Lamar
Address: 103 Warren Avenue, Lamar, SC 29069
Darlington Municipal Court
Address: 400 Pearl Street, Darlington, SC 29532
Phone: 843-398-4004 Fax: 843-398-4027
Hartsville Municipal Court
Address: 133 West Carolina Avenue, PO Drawer 2497, Hartsville, SC 29550
Phone: 843-383-3008 Fax: 843-383-3040
Lamar Municipal Court
Address: 117 Main Street, PO Box 267, Lamar, SC 29069
Phone: 843-326-7264 Fax: 843-326-5280
Society Hill Municipal Court
Address: 280 South Main Street, PO Box 29, Society Hill, SC 29593
Phone: 843-378-4681 Fax: 843-378-9190