Criminal Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer Daniel Selwa has nearly 20 years of experience defending and prosecuting criminal cases in Horry County, SC, and has gotten dismissals, pre-trial diversion, and successful resolutions for hundreds of clients.

I understand what is at stake when any person is accused of a crime – your reputation, your family, your job, and even your freedom may be on the line.

I cannot guarantee results to any client, but I can tell you that we will 1) get your case dismissed, 2) negotiate an outcome that you agree to, or 3) take your case to trial before a jury of your peers.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Horry County, SC

horry county criminal defense lawyer in myrtle beach SC surfside conway georgetown

Our law office is in Surfside Beach, SC, and we accept criminal defense cases in Surfside, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Conway, Horry County, Georgetown County, and throughout the Grand Strand area.

Your criminal defense lawyer was born and raised in Horry County, and knows the local courts, prosecutors, clerks, judges, and attorneys who will be involved in your case.

We have successfully defended criminal cases in SC’s General Sessions Courts, magistrate courts, and municipal courts in Horry County, Georgetown County, and the surrounding area.

When you call our office, I will meet with you for a free consultation to answer your questions and learn about your case. If you retain our office to represent you, I will:

  • Keep you informed at all stages of your case, return your phone calls, and maintain open communication with you,
  • Investigate the allegations against you,
  • Locate and interview any defense witnesses who may help your case,
  • Get and review all evidence the state intends to use against you,
  • Gather and review any other evidence that may help your case using subpoenas, FOIA requests, discovery motions, motions to compel, and consultation with experts as needed,
  • Prepare your case for trial,
  • Negotiate with your prosecutor to get your charges dismissed or to negotiate a resolution that you can agree to, and
  • Try your case to a jury if an agreement cannot be reached with the prosecutor.

Types of Criminal Defense Cases We Accept

Learn About Criminal Law in South Carolina

What Happens After Someone is Arrested in SC?

When a person is arrested in Horry County, SC, or any of the municipalities in Horry County like the City of Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, or Conway, SC, they will ordinarily be:

  • Taken to jail – this could be a municipal jail or the county jail (J. Reuben Long Detention Center),
  • “Booked,” processed, and held until their bond hearing which could be in the city court where they were arrested or the magistrate court at J. Reuben Long Detention Center,
  • Held at the detention center until their bond is posted (or until trial if bond is denied or they cannot afford to post bail), and
  • Given a preliminary court date – which could be a bench trial date in the magistrate’s court or a “roll call” date in General Sessions Court depending on the nature of the charges.

It is critical that the defendant or their family contact an experienced local defense attorney as soon as possible, because 1) there may be deadlines to avoid waiving important rights and 2) the defense lawyer needs to begin investigating the case and preparing for trial as soon as possible.

Bail/ Bond Hearings in Horry County, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Conway, SC

In most cases, a person who has been arrested in SC will have a bond hearing within 24 hours of their arrest, and the bond hearing will usually be held at either 1) the municipal court for the city where the person was arrested or 2) the magistrate/ bond court at J. Reuben Long Detention Center if the person was arrested outside of city limits in Horry County.

If a person is charged with an offense that could carry up to life in prison (murder or CSC with a minor first degree, for example), the circuit court must set the person’s bond. When bond is denied, bond was not set, or bond was unreasonably high, the person’s defense attorney can file a motion to set or reduce bond in the circuit court and schedule a hearing.

Depending on the nature of the crime charged, the person’s criminal history, and other factors, the court could set a:

  • PR (personal recognizance) bond where the person pays nothing to get released,
  • Surety bond where a bondsman must be retained before the person can be released,
  • 10% bond where the person pays 10% of the total amount of the bond to the clerk of court until their case is resolved, or
  • Cash bond where the person pays the full amount of the bond to the clerk of court until their case is resolved.

Municipal Courts in Horry County, Georgetown County, SC

Minor traffic violations and most criminal offenses that carry a maximum penalty of 30 days or less are usually heard in the municipal court for the city in which the offense occurred or the county magistrate court for the area where the offense occurred if the person was arrested outside of city limits.

The municipal courts where a person may be charged include:

  • Myrtle Beach municipal court,
  • Surfside Beach municipal court,
  • North Myrtle Beach municipal court,
  • Conway municipal court,
  • Aynor municipal court,
  • Atlantic Beach municipal court,
  • Loris municipal court,
  • Georgetown municipal court,
  • Pawleys Island municipal court, and
  • Andrews municipal court.

General Sessions Court in Horry County, Georgetown County, SC

When a person is charged with a criminal offense that carries a maximum penalty of more than 30 days (with some exceptions), their case will usually be heard in the Court of General Sessions, which is the “criminal side” of SC’s circuit courts.

Horry and Georgetown Counties are the 15th Judicial Circuit, and the person’s case will be heard at either the Horry County Courthouse or the Georgetown County Courthouse depending on where the person was arrested.

Every person charged in General Sessions Court is given two appearance dates, or “roll call” dates, when they must appear in court unless their attorney has confirmed that they are excused – if a defendant does not appear in court on these dates and they have not been excused, their prosecutor will get a bench warrant for their arrest.

Although a person has been charged in General Sessions Court, some proceedings or hearings related to their case may happen in other courts. For example, bond hearings and preliminary hearings are usually heard by magistrates or municipal judges, and implied consent hearings related to DUI offenses are decided by a DMV hearing officer in the administrative court.

FAQ for Criminal Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Horry County, SC

What Magistrate Courts are in Horry County?

When a person is charged with a crime that carries up to 30 days or less (with exceptions, like domestic violence third degree or driving under suspension charges), and they are charged in the county outside of city limits, their case is usually heard in one of Horry County’s magistrate courts.

In addition to various magistrate courts throughout the county, Horry County also has several “centralized” magistrate courts including:

  • Horry Central Traffic Court,
  • Horry County Jury Court,
  • Horry County Criminal Domestic Violence Court,
  • Horry County Centralized Magistrate Bond Court, and
  • Horry County Preliminary Hearing Court.

How Do I Request a Jury Trial in Horry County?

If you are charged in the magistrate or municipal court, you or your attorney will need to request a jury trial in writing before your initial court date – this is one reason why it is critical that you contact an Horry County criminal defense lawyer immediately after your arrest.

If you are charged in General Sessions Court, you do not need to formally file a jury trial request. After your defense attorney has investigated your case, received all discovery materials from the prosecutor, and attempted to negotiate a dismissal or plea agreement, your case will be placed on the trial roster.

Can the Alleged Victim Dismiss My Case?

The alleged victim cannot dismiss your case – they are only a witness in the case and they are not a party. The parties to your case are 1) you and 2) the State of South Carolina, and only the prosecutor or a judge can dismiss your case before trial.

If the alleged victim does not want your prosecution to go forward or if they intend to testify in your defense, you should 1) immediately inform your attorney and 2) leave it to your attorney and the prosecutor in your case to speak with the alleged victim.

You should not contact the alleged victim in your criminal case under any circumstances, because 1) your bond could be revoked and 2) it could result in additional charges against you.

Can You Get My Case Dismissed?

I have gotten dismissals, pretrial diversion, and acquittals at trial for many clients over the years, but I cannot promise you that I will get your case dismissed.

Every case is different, and whether your case is dismissed before trial depends on many things, including:

  • The availability of prosecution witnesses,
  • The evidence available to the prosecutor,
  • The results of your attorney’s independent investigation,
  • The facts of your case,
  • The law as applied to the facts of your case,
  • Your criminal history and mitigation materials,
  • Whether there were constitutional violations committed by the police, and
  • The results or predicted results of any pretrial motions to suppress.

I can tell you that I will 1) get your case dismissed, 2) negotiate an acceptable resolution, or 3) try your case to a jury.

How Much Do You Charge for a Criminal Case?

In most cases, we will charge a flat fee for representation in a criminal matter. The costs can vary widely, however, depending on:

  • Your charges,
  • The circumstances of your case,
  • The estimated time to investigate and prepare your case for trial,
  • The estimated likelihood that your case will go to trial or end in dismissal or plea, and
  • The costs of any experts that will be needed for consultation or testimony.

How Much Do You Charge for a Guilty Plea?

There is no “fee schedule” for guilty pleas or trials. Why?

Your case may end in a guilty plea. It may end in dismissal or an alternative resolution. It may end with a jury trial.

There is no way to say for certain whether your case will be a plea or a trial – in the end, the decision is always the client’s to make. Before you make that decision, however, your attorney must complete an independent investigation of the facts and the law applied to your case so that your attorney can competently advise you as to whether:

  • A dismissal is likely,
  • A guilty plea is in your best interests, or
  • You have a chance at winning your case at trial.

If your case ends in dismissal, or if you receive a plea offer that you accept, it is likely because your attorney has investigated your case, prepared for trial, and negotiated that outcome with the prosecutor.

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