Fairfield County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Fairfield County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Fairfield County.
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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Fairfield County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
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.
Mandatory Appearances in Fairfield County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Fairfield County, the defendant must appear before the court. In the event of a “Failure to Appear” the judge may issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Note: not all criminal hearings are mandatory, in a non-mandatory hearing an attorney may appear on your behalf without you being in court.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
Fairfield County Criminal Court hearings
Criminal hearings in Fairfield County will take place at the Fairfield County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Fairfield County Criminal Court Locations.
Prosecutor in Fairfield County
In Fairfield County, the prosecutor is an attorney representing Fairfield County. In some cases, the prosecutor may actually represent South Carolina. For the most part, the prosecutor in Fairfield County has discretion to both decide whether to file charges and also negotiate a potential plea deal with the defendant.
Where can I get help for my Fairfield County criminal case?
The 6th amendment of the United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right to an attorney. As read in the miranda rights, this means that if a defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney a legal attorney will be appointed to the defendant to represent him at no cost to the defendant. This is often a public defender. In addition, the court clerk for Fairfield County will also be able to provide general information about a specific criminal case. The clerk can only provide information and is not an attorney so they cannot provide legal advice, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice about what the best options for are for your particular case.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is always on the prosecution in a criminal trial. In other words, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The defense must only prove that there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant did NOT commit the crime. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury will be instructed to find the defendant not-guilty.
Can I appeal a guilty verdict?
If found guilty, a defendant may decide to appeal his case to an appelate court. The appellate court will not retry the case, they will examine the proceedings in the lower court to make sure they were done in a legal manner. The appellate court can either uphold the original conviction, or determine that due to errors made in the original trial, that there must be a retrial, resentencing or a complete dismissal of the charges.
Sentencing in Fairfield County
In Fairfield County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
Fairfield County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Fairfield County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Fairfield 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 Fairfield 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.
Fairfield County Criminal Court Locations
Fairfield County Circuit Court
Address: 101 South Congress Street, PO Drawer 299, Winnsboro, SC 29180
Phone: 803-712-6526 Fax: 803-712-1506
Fairfield County Magistrate Court
Address: 115-B South Congress Street, Winnsboro, SC 29180
Phone: 803-635-4525 Fax: 803-635-5717
Ridgeway Municipal Court
Address: 170 South Dogwood Avenue, PO Box 24, Ridgeway SC 29130
Phone: 803-337-2213 Fax: 803-337-2004
Winnsboro Municipal Court
Address: 117 West Washington Street, PO Box 209, Winnsboro, SC 29180
Phone: 803-635-1302 Fax: 803-815-0602