Do I need a lawyer for my criminal case?

Even if you are a lawyer, you need a lawyer for your case. You are placed at a high risk for prison or jail time by being accused of a crime, and the criminal justice system is known for being harsh and unforgiving.

When you hire a legal professional such as James Brehm, you are enlisting the help of a powerful advocate who has years of experience in courtrooms throughout the Upstate. It is risky to try and represent yourself, and you have a far better chance of avoiding a conviction and jail time with the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Criminal defense attorneys also know how to strike deals and create lesser sentences, and a good lawyer can get prosecutors to reduce jail or prison time significantly.

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?

Criminal defense attorneys typically work in flat-fee arrangements and require an upfront payment (retainer) to begin working on your case.  In comparing prices it is important to take into account that there is a wide range of quotes that you may receive on even simple matters. 

The wide range mentioned is usually based on a disparity with the attorneys' experience and knowledge.  Those attorneys that have both usually charge more.  Experience and knowledge may have a significant impact on your case.  James Brehm has over 20 years of experience in criminal law and it is his only area of practice.

Does your law firm need the entire legal fee immediately?

In most cases a payment plan can be worked out with our law firm. Our criminal defense firm also accepts credit cards.

Can you guarantee a result?

Simply stated... "no way, no how, not now, not ever..."

No attorney can ethically guarantee a result. The guarantee of a result implies that your fee is refundable if your lawyer is unsuccessful. Such a fee would then be contingent on the outcome of the case. The ethical rules governing the behavior of lawyers forbid a lawyer from entering into an arrangement for a contingent fee in a criminal case.

If a lawyer guarantees a result, ask them to put it in writing. If they will not reduce it to writing, they lied to you.

You need an attorney that will be straight with you, one who will give you the bad news as well as the good. You need a lawyer who will fight for you and keep you informed of the law and the likely outcome of your case. Your lawyer works for you.

James Brehm is dedicated to the legal profession and to providing his clients the very best criminal defense possible. He will provide you the information and advice to allow you the opportunity to make the best choices in your case.

What is Attorney Client Privilege and what should I tell my lawyer?

The moment that you speak to an attorney about your case, whether you hire them or not, the attorney client privilege takes effect. This means anything that you discuss with that attorney is protected and privileged and they are not allowed to relate it to anyone else without your permission, even to a family member or close friends.

Your attorney should always be advised of accurate information related to your case. By not sharing information with your attorney, you put your attorney in a position where they may lose their bargaining power with the Assistant Solicitor or the court when it is revealed that your representative doesn't know all the facts.

Can I just have my attorney represent me, so I don't have to show up?

There are stages of the criminal process where your appearance may not be required. A criminal defense attorney, once hired, will let you know when and where your presence will be required. If you are not able to appear for a mandatory court appearance, you must immediately contact your attorney and inform them of your situation. 

What should I expect from a criminal defense attorney?

First, you should expect to be completely informed about your criminal charge, the possible defenses and the different methods of resolving your case in criminal court. No attorney can guarantee how your case will be concluded. James Brehm works hard to make sure his clients understand exactly what is happening and all the potential legal ramifications of their charges.

Second, you should expect that your attorney understands the law and the idiosyncrasies of the individual judicial district in which you have been charged.  South Carolina criminal law is uniform across the state, but every Solicitor's Office and summary court is a little different. Because we limit our practice to a few counties, we know those courthouses inside and out. Plus, with over 20 years of handling criminal cases, James Brehm has the experience and professionalism that you can trust.

How do I found out if there is a warrant for my arrest?

Many people are shocked to learn that there is a warrant out for their arrest. If you are concerned about a potential criminal charge, you can call an attorney and ask him to find out about a possible warrant.  James Brehm provides this service for free. 

Should I comply with police questioning?

James Brehm almost always recommends that you refrain from conversing with a police officer about a crime that you are accused of committing. Even if you are innocent, police investigators are highly skilled at distorting seemingly innocent statements into ammunition that can be used against you in court. It is difficult to overcome the police officer's predisposed opinion about you, and therefore it is wise to seek the help of a skilled attorney immediately.

How can I erase my criminal record?

Even if your case is dismissed, the only way to completely clear your record from data banks is by getting an expungement order. The law in South Carolina allows you to expunge your criminal record in certain instances, and this is important if you are looking to secure new housing, get a new job, or apply for special licensing.

You will generally have the right to an expungement if your case was dismissed. You will also have the right to an expungement if you are found "not guilty" after a trial.  In some situations (misdemeanors), you may also be entitled to an expungement even if you pleaded guilty or were found guilty and have no other record. If you pleaded guilty under the Youthful Offender Act you may be eligible for expungement.

A successful expungement will allow you to legally tell employers, friends and family that you have not been convicted of a crime. You may become eligible for student loans, housing assistance and more types of professional licenses and certificates as well. If you are interested in expunging your record, James Brehm will review your criminal record and determine your eligibility at no cost.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

A misdemeanor is not as serious an offense, and it usually only carries a maximum sentence of one year or less. A felony is a very serious crime that may carry a sentence of over one year in state prison. A felony conviction may result in the loss of certain civil liberties.

What is a Preliminary Hearing?

The preliminary hearing is a proceeding held in felony cases to determine whether the State has sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and the defendant committed it. Where a grand jury returns an indictment against the defendant, no preliminary hearing will be held.

If a police officer knocks on my door and asks to search my home, do I have to let the officer in?

Unless the officer has a warrant, you are under no legal obligation to let the officer search your residence.