You might have been charged with a crime, but that does not mean you are guilty. Provence Messervy understands the difference. We know criminal charges can have a devastating impact on your family and your future. You need someone on your side.
James H. Messervy, a former prosecutor and Judge, co-founded the firm of Provence Messervy to provide the best legal representation to residents of Dorchester, Berkeley, and Charleston Counties that have been charged with criminal offenses. Whether you have a child in trouble for the first time, have been charged with a DUI, or are dealing with an arrest for more serious charges, let Provence Messervy's defense team bring their more than forty-five years of experience to your defense. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to defend your case.
We currently offer representation for the following:
It is imperative that you get representation early. Please call us immediately so we can begin work on your criminal case. Schedule an appointment with our Criminal Law team and let them start the critical steps in representing you.
FAQs About Criminal Law
What’s the difference between a civil and criminal matter?
A civil case occurs between two private parties, the Plaintiff and Defendant. Civil cases generally do not involve jail time or result in a criminal record. These cases often involve one party seeking money damages or injustice relief from the other. Criminal cases involve the local, state or federal government prosecuting a party for violating a law. In these cases the government acts as the prosecutor and the party being charged with the crime is the defendant. Criminal convictions may result in a jail sentence, probations, fines or other penalties. They might also result in participation in a diversion program such as PTI (pre-trial intervention program) or other alternative such as Drug Court. There are certain incidents which could result in both a criminal and civil case. For example, an auto-accident where the driver is intoxicated or causes the death of another could lead to a criminal charge against the at fault driver; however, it could also result in the harmed party bringing a civil action against the driver. Strategies for handling a criminal defense case are very different from bringing a civil matter. If you’ve been accused of a crime, schedule a consult with a qualified defense team immediately to protect your rights.
When do I need a criminal defense attorney?
You should consult with an attorney as soon as you know that you are suspected of committing a crime. If you are interrogated or arrested, you should always ask for a lawyer and remain silent until you have representation. Continue to assert your silence throughout any questioning, bail or bond hearings, and detention. Your communications can and will be used against you. If you have a loved one that has been arrested, promptly get defense counsel for your family member. Please remember that their communications will be recorded and don’t discuss legal matters with them over the phone.
How should I choose a criminal defense attorney?
If you or a loved on has been accused of a crime, it’s imperative that you do your research and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Now is not the time to leave your freedom or reputation on the line by looking for the most inexpensive option. Research attorneys before choosing by looking for the following information:
What is their training after law school? Former prosecutors often make the best criminal defense attorneys because they’ve been trained from years of prosecuting cases. Our law firm brings more than twenty-eight (28) years of experience in criminal prosecution to your team.
Have they defended other cases similar to yours? Every case is unique but a track record with similar cases is important.
How many years of experience does the defense team have? Don’t leave your case in the hands of a new attorney. The best criminal defense attorneys are often busy so it’s important that you work with their staff but make sure they will be available to assist with your case when it’s matter.
What is their reputation with the local prosecutor’s office?
What do their other clients have to say? Check for referrals online or ask around about their reputation.
Are they accessible? You can’t wait weeks for an appointment when you need an attorney now!
Still can’t decide? Meet with at least two attorneys and then decide based on who provided the most valuable advice, who made you feel the most confident and which one had the most reasonable fee structure or payment plan.
Can the police search my home?
Police officers must have a search warrant to search your home. These warrants should detail the specific item(s) and locations to be searched. It’s important to know that there are exceptions to this requirement. An officer does not need a warrant under the following conditions:
If the home-owner gives the officer permission to conduct the search.
If the officer is invited in the home, he/she may conduct a plain view search of areas he/she can see.
If exigent circumstances exist, the officer may be able to search without a warrant. These are circumstances which require the officer to act immediately including but not limited to imminent destruction of evidence, pursuit of a felon, threat of harm to the officer or others or prevention of escape.
If you feel your home has been wrongfully searched under the Fourth Amendment, contact a defense attorney immediately.
Why types of criminal cases do you take?
We practice criminal law at every level of court in South Carolina: Local, State, and Federal. This includes traffic offenses, magistrate and municipal offenses, misdemeanors and felonies. We represent both juveniles and adults charged with crimes. We also can assist you in collateral administrative matters, such as forfeiture suits, school disciplinary proceedings and license revocation proceedings resulting from a criminal offense.
What’s the difference between probation and parole?
Both probation and parole are alternatives to jail time. Probation generally occurs before and often in lieu of jail, while parole is the result of an early release. Both require the defendant to be supervised and follow various requirements, rules and guidelines (called conditions).
Who makes the decisions regarding the resolution of my case - you or me?
All decisions are made with your knowledge and input. We will advise you regarding a number of legal decisions, such as what investigation is required, what documents need to be obtained or what witnesses need to be interviewed. The ultimate resolution of a case will be yours. We will advise you of our legal opinion as to the best course of action, but we leave the decision to you. Our clients are not forced to enter guilty pleas against their wishes.
Can you get my record expunged?
Having a criminal record can cause negative consequences when doing anything from applying for jobs to trying to finance a home or car. Recognizing this hurdle that many face in trying to move on with their life, every state has enacted some form of criminal record expungement program. These programs allow your prior criminal record to be sealed so that it’s no longer available to be accessed during background checks. Every case is different but our defense attorneys are familiar with the expungement process and can guide you through your rights. If you have a prior history, this might be the first step to regaining your reputation and moving forward.