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Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm Extensive Litigation Experience
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Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Charleston, whether it’s driving under the influence (DUI), possession of drugs, burglary or other crimes, getting immediate help from a criminal defense attorney is essential. The penalties you face if convicted could range from losing your driver’s license or paying a few hundred dollars in fines to spending years – even the rest of your life – in prison. Even if the offense seems relatively minor, simply pleading guilty and paying a fine might not let you move on with your life as quickly and completely as you think. Instead, you could find that a criminal record can haunt you for years or the rest of your life, keeping you from getting the job you wanted or practicing the profession you always dreamed of, and hurting your chances of living where you want, getting a small business loan or home mortgage, keeping you from voting, and negatively impacting your life at every turn.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Charleston, you have options. The government might not have as strong a case against you as they pretend to have. You have constitutional protections that guarantee you fair treatment and the right to defend yourself. Most importantly, you the right to hire a skilled and knowledgeable Charleston criminal defense lawyer to advise you of your rights and defend you. With the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm on your side, you’ll find yourself in a better position to get a positive outcome regarding the criminal charges you are facing. We take a smart, strong and strategic approach to criminal matters in Charleston, reviewing your options and creating a plan to get the charges dropped or reduced, secure a favorable disposition like probation or a decision not to prosecute, or defend you in court, using our litigation experience to get a not guilty verdict or judgment of acquittal.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, drugs, burglary or other charges in Charleston, call the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm. We’ve got your back.

How Do You Defend People Charged With Crime in Charleston?

A person charged with a felony offense faces severe penalties if convicted but also likely has one or more defenses available. It’s the prosecutor’s job to prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant meanwhile, has many ways to challenge the prosecution and is entitled to certain constitutional protections, such as the right to a jury trial, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and the right to be advised and represented by a competent attorney at all stages of the prosecution.

As an example of the ways the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm can help you in a criminal case in Charleston, let’s look at the crime of burglary in South Carolina.

Burglary involves entering a dwelling or building without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside. Simply entering a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside is third-degree burglary, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, or up to ten years if the person has a prior burglary conviction. Entering a dwelling (as opposed to a building) without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside is second-degree burglary, a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. Second-degree burglary can also be charged for entering a building without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside if one of the following applies:

  • Armed with a deadly weapon
  • Causes physical injury
  • Uses or threatens with a dangerous instrument
  • Displays what is or appears to be a firearm
  • Has a prior record of two or more convictions for burglary or housebreaking
  • Enters or remains in the nighttime

A conviction under these circumstances is punishable by up to 15 years in prison with no parole until at least one-third of the sentence has been served.

Finally, first-degree burglary can be charged for entering a dwelling without consent and with intent to commit a crime inside, where one of the following factors applies:

  • Armed with a deadly weapon
  • Causes physical injury
  • Uses or threatens with a dangerous instrument
  • Displays what is or appears to be a firearm
  • Has a prior record of two or more convictions for burglary or housebreaking
  • Enters or remains in the nighttime

First-degree burglary is a first-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison at a minimum and possibly a life sentence.

You can see that state statutes define every offense very specifically, and every offense contains specific elements. Each one of those elements would have to be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. For burglary, every offense requires that the defendant entered a dwelling or building “without consent” and “with intent to commit a crime” inside. Whether or not someone had permission to enter a building or dwelling can often be argued one way or another, raising reasonable doubt for a jury. As far as the prosecutor proving the defendant’s intent, this element most often must be proven with circumstantial evidence; there will often not be direct evidence of what the defendant’s intent was. A skilled defense lawyer will challenge the prosecution’s case on these points, raising doubt for the jurors or convincing them of the defendant’s position.

With these defenses and others, we can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case so the jury will come back with a not guilty verdict. Often, by building a strong defense during the discovery phase, we can keep the case from ever getting to trial. Once the prosecutor sees the strength of our case and the weaknesses in theirs, they may decline to prosecute and drop the charges. We can also seek to have charges dismissed by the judge through pre-trial motions to the court. These motions might relate to errors made by the police or prosecutors that violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as searches or seizures made without probable cause. When avoiding trial is in your best interests, we can attempt to negotiate a guilty plea with the prosecutor in exchange for favorable treatment that avoids jail time or a felony record.

Strategic and Effective Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Charleston

Getting arrested and charged with a crime is scary and intimidating, but it’s vital to remember that you have a right to fair treatment and the right to have an attorney advise you and represent you from the moment of your arrest until the disposition of your case. In Charleston, call the Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm as soon as possible after an arrest. We’ll provide you with immediate advice and assistance to protect your rights and put you in the best position for an excellent outcome. Call 843-310-5555 to get started now.

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