Dorchester County Criminal Court

Dorchester County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Dorchester County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Dorchester County.

Defendant Sentencing

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.

Right to an attorney

The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Dorchester County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

Dorchester County Criminal Court

Dorchester County Criminal Court

The Right to Trial by Jury

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.

Appealing a guilty verdict

A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.

Plea Agreements

A Plea Agreement, sometimes known as a Plea Bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest often in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter recommended sentence. A large majority of criminal cases end in a plea agreement. In Dorchester County you can inform your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to a plea agreement, but this is dependent upon the charge severity and also the prosecutors willingness to accept a plea deal.

Burden of Proof Requirement

In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutor in Dorchester County

In Dorchester County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Dorchester County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent South Carolina. For the most part, the prosecutor in Dorchester County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.

Who can help me in Dorchester County?

For general information about your case the Dorchester 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.

Where will Dorchester County criminal case hearings take place?

Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Dorchester County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Dorchester County.

Dorchester County Required Court Appearances

In Dorchester 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.

Dorchester County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In Dorchester County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Dorchester County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Dorchester County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.

Jury Deliberations in Dorchester County

In Dorchester County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.

Dorchester County Criminal Court Locations

  • Dorchester County Circuit Court

    Address: 5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd, St. George, SC 29477
    Phone: 843-563-0160 Fax: 843-563-0178

  • Dorchester County Magistrate Court – St. George

    Address: 5200 East Jim Bilton Blvd, St. George, SC 29477
    Phone: 843-563-0130 Fax: 843-563-0123

  • Dorchester County Magistrate Court – Summerville

    Address: 212 Deming Way, Box 10, Summerville, SC 29483
    Phone: 843-832-0370 Fax: 843-832-0371

  • Harleyville Municipal Court

    Address: 119 South Railroad Avenue, PO Box 35, Harleyville, SC 29448
    Phone: 843-462-7676 Fax: 843-462-2485

  • Ridgeville Municipal Court

    Address: 105 School Street, Ridgeville, SC 29472
    Phone: 843-871-7960 Fax: 843-832-8016

  • St. George Municipal Court

    Address: Physical: 601 South Parler Avenue, St. George, SC 29477
    Phone: 843-563-3240 Fax: 843-563-7048

  • Summerville Municipal Court

    Address: 200 South Main Street, Summerville, SC 29483
    Phone: 843-875-2010 Fax: 843-851-4119

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