Hampton County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Hampton County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Hampton County.
Mandatory Appearances in Hampton County Criminal Court
At a mandatory or required court appearance in Hampton 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.
Sentencing in Hampton County
In Hampton 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.
In a jury trial in Hampton 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.
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.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Hampton County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Hampton County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Hampton 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 Hampton 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.
Who can help me in Hampton County?
For general information about your case the Hampton 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.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Hampton 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.
Where will Hampton County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Hampton County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Hampton County.
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.
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.
Who is the prosecutor for Hampton County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Hampton County criminal cases will either be a representative of Hampton County or a representative from South Carolina. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.
Hampton County Criminal Court Locations
Hampton County Circuit Court
Address: 1 Courthouse Square, PO Box 7, Hampton, SC 29924
Phone: 803-914-2250 Fax: 803-914-2258
Hampton County Magistrate Court – Estill
Address: 125 Martin Luther King Blvd, PO Box 969, Estill SC 22918
Phone: 803-625-3232 Fax: 803-625-2148
Hampton County Magistrate Court – Varnville
Address: 411 Cemetery Road, PO Box 1299, Varnville, SC 29944
Phone: 803-914-2230 Fax: 803-914-2239
Brunson Municipal Court
Address: 686 North Railroad Avenue, PO Box 300, Brunson, SC 29911
Phone: 803-632-3633 Fax: 803-632-3058
Estill Municipal Court
Address: 323 Martin Luther King Blvd South, PO Box 37, Estill, SC 29918
Phone: 803-625-3699 Fax: 803-625-3958
Gifford Municipal Court
Address: PO Drawer 189, Gifford SC 29923
Hampton Municipal Court
Address: 608 1st Street West, Hampton, SC 29924
Phone: 803-943-2421 Fax: 803-943-0494
Varnville Municipal Court
Address: 95 East Palmetto Avenue, PO Box 308, Varnville, SC 29944
Phone: 803-943-2979 Fax: 803-943-4263
Yemassee Municipal Court
Address: 101 Town Hall Circle, PO Box 577, Yemassee, SC 29945
Phone: 843-589-2565 Fax: 843-589-2050