Attorney General Henry McMaster

Direct Appeals

The first step of the lengthy appeals process is the direct appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court or the South Carolina Court of Appeals. The convicted criminal must first file a written notice of intent to appeal. If the criminal is without money to afford a lawyer for the appeal, the court will appoint a lawyer from a state agency, the South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, to handle the appeal for the criminal. An attorney from the Attorney General's Office will handle the appeal on behalf of the State.

Unlike a trial, no live testimony is presented to the Supreme Court in an appeal; it is based solely on the written record from the trial. Written documents called briefs are filed by the attorneys for both sides arguing whether a new trial is required, based on technicalities. Sometimes the court will hear the lawyers present their positions in open court, but most appeals are decided solely on the basis of the written materials. This lengthy process, which includes the preparation of the written trial record by the court reporter and the briefs, takes about two (2) years after the original trial to complete before a decision by the court is made.

A victim's assistance counselor from the Attorney General's Office is now available to advise you when the briefs are filed, accompany you to court, and advise you of the decision by the court, if you wish.