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Can I Be Charged with a Crime Without Being Arrested?

Yes, you can be charged with a crime in South Carolina without being arrested for it. Further, you can be arrested, and it may not lead to a criminal charge. Criminal charges are complex, and understanding their mechanics can help you better understand your own legal situation and your best path forward. If you have been charged with a crime or believe you might be, do not wait to discuss the matter with an experienced Columbia, South Carolina, criminal defense attorney.

The Charge and Summons

A criminal action – or charge – can begin when a victim of a crime files a complaint under oath against the person they identify as committing the crime, which can lead to a courtesy summons. When a courtesy summons, which is reserved for less serious crimes, is issued, it means that the accused will be served but won’t be arrested at that time. Instead, they are required to appear in court at the scheduled time to respond to the allegations against them.

A summary court or municipal judge also has the discretion to issue a summons to appear for trial in lieu of an arrest warrant, which means the accused is charged with a crime, but they won’t be arrested when they’re personally served with the summons. Such a summons must adequately express the charges against the accused.

If this is the situation you find yourself in and you fail to appear before the court as required, you can be tried in your absence, and the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

You Can Be Arrested without a Warrant

While there is a constitutional preference for arrests that are based on warrants, there are exceptions to the rule in South Carolina, including in the following situations:

When a warrantless arrest is made, the officer is obligated to take the accused to a magistrate or municipal judge without unreasonable delay so the circumstances of the arrest can be verified and an arrest warrant can be issued – as applicable. 

If You Are Arrested

If you are arrested, it’s important to take your legal rights seriously. This includes letting the police know that you are invoking your right to remain silent – after answering basic questions about your identity – and that you want an attorney. Having skilled legal counsel on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Consult with an Experienced Columbia, South Carolina, Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The savvy Columbia criminal defense attorneys at Sharpe & Leventis have an impressive track record of helping valued clients like you resolve their cases as advantageously as possible – in support of their brightest futures. We welcome the opportunity to also help you, so please contact us online or call 803-830-6296 for more information today.