Once you have been arrested, you have the right to remain silent. That means you do not have to answer any questions or make any statements to the police or to anyone. Although you may wish to make a statement at a later time, do not make this decision without talking to a lawyer.

Things you say as well as things you write may be used as evidence against you.

As soon as possible after your arrest, tell the police that you want to talk to a lawyer. You have the right to contact a lawyer. If you can not afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you by the court.

The lawyer will need to know where you are being held, what you have been charged with, and the names and telephone numbers of family and /or friends who are close by and are willing to help you. Have this information ready when you call.

In all but a few cases, you are entitled to be released upon posting bail, which may be a surety bond or a personal recognizance bond. A surety bond is a sum of money or property pledged to assure that the defendant shows up for trial. If he fails to appear in court, the bail set by a magistrate, will be forfeited to the government. A recognizance bond is a written promise by the defendant to show up for trial. If he fails to appear, he will have to pay a stated amount of money to the court in addition to being tried for the offense at a later date. When you will go before the magistrate following arrest will depend on when you are arrested and whether you are charged with violation of a state or federal law. A lawyer can be helpful in getting appropriate bail set.

This information was prepared to give you some general information on the law. It is not intended as legal advice about any particular problem. If you have questions about the law you should consult a lawyer. If you do not know a lawyer, you can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The number is 799-7100 in Richland or Lexington Counties, and 1-800-868-2284 from other parts of the state.