Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Assessing the accuracy of breathalyzer devices

To most in Florence and throughout the rest of the U.S., the breathalyzer has come to be the symbol for law enforcement’s commitment to avoid the dangers posed by drunk drivers. Like those who have come to us here at the Parham Law Firm, LLC after a drunk driving arrest, you likely understand a .08 percent blood alcohol content reading as being the almost universally accepted standard for determining whether you are too impaired to drive. Yet how much confidence should be placed on such a measurement if it was attained using a breathalyzer device?

Given all that potentially rides on you being convicted of driving under the influence (e.g., a felony or misdemeanor conviction, the suspension of your license), you likely would want to know how accurate the readings produced by the equipment condemning you truly are. Information shared by the National Motorists Association shows that breathalyzer results often have up to a 50 percent margin for error. Thus, if your breathalyzer reading shows you to have a BAC of .08 percent, these research findings show that in actuality, your BAC could be as low as .03.

Good Samaritan law proposed to reduce heroin deaths

As heroin use rises across the country, South Carolina has also seen a spike in deaths from overdoses. The Washington Times reports that the state has seen a 57.1 increase in heroin fatalities between 2014 and 2015. According to CDC statistics across the country, from 2013-2014 there was a 26 percent rise in deaths from heroin overdose. One reason for these deaths is that heroin can be laced with other drugs that a user may not realize, which can affect the potency of the drug, for example fentanyl, which is 20 times more powerful than heroin, can be mixed in without a user’s knowledge resulting in his or her death. There were six known overdose deaths relating to fentanyl in 2016.

WCBD News 2 reports that with these risks in mind, the South Carolina legislature is considering a Good Samaritan law to protect those reporting possible drug overdoses. This law would put legal protections in place for those calling 911, even if the person reporting the drug overdose witnessed it while participating in their own illicit drug use or other illegal activity. The law is meant to reduce fear of calling for emergency services when they are needed in a hope to reduce death as a result of opioid and heroin abuse.

South Carolina DWI penalties

Summer is right around the corner. You will have almost three months to unwind from a stressful spring semester. There will be camping trips, afternoons on the river, and the occasional party. What if, while on your way home from a summer party, a police officer pulls you over? What if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI)?

If you are a college student and you receive a DWI conviction, you could face some very severe penalties in addition to a possible school suspension and loss of financial aid. Fortunately, there might be a defense available to you to fight the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney in the Florence area can help you fight back against a DWI charge. Read further to find more about DWI penalties in South Carolina.

Your misdemeanor may affect your job search

Searching for a job in South Carolina can be a challenge, but for those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor, it can be even more difficult. According to the Collegiate Times, research indicates that an employer may not separate misdemeanors from felonies when looking at an applicant’s criminal record. This could mean that a young person with a disorderly conduct misdemeanor or similar conviction could be seen as a liability and may never get called in for an interview.

Misdemeanor arrests are common for the 23-and-under age group, with a third of American adults falling into that category. It may be tempting to try to hide the conviction from a potential employer. However, experts point out that a person who leaves the information off of the application is more likely to get into trouble when the employer runs a background check and discovers there is a criminal record. Particularly for those with a single offense, an employer may appreciate honesty and be willing to overlook the charge if it does not relate to the type of job, but a person with more than one conviction may not be considered hirable. If someone is able to have the offense expunged, a background check will not return a criminal record.

The walk-and-turn field sobriety test

Do you know someone who has been arrested for and charged with impaired driving in South Carolina? If so and you are wanting to help that person through the defense process, it will be good for you to understand the types of tests administered during the arrest process.

In addition to a breath or blood test that determines a driver's blood alcohol level, other tests are given at the place where the original traffic stop happened. Referred to as field sobriety tests, these things do not actually measure intoxication. Instead, FieldSobrietyTests.org indicates, these three standardized tests are intended solely to give police or other law enforcement officers enough evidence to arrest a person for suspected driving under the influence.

When could a DUI net a felony charge?

While most in Florence recognize drunk driving as being a serious charge, the general assumption may be that should you be convicted of such a crime, your punishment will likely be that of a misdemeanor offense (provided that it is your first conviction). However, there are circumstances where such an offense could net you a felony charge. The question is whether or not your case meets the criteria for such a charge.

Section 56-5-2945 of the Code of South Carolina states that if you cause an accident that results in the serious injury or death of another, you could face a felony charge if the following two conditions are met: First, you have to have been proven to be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two. Second, you must also be engaged in some other act that is forbidden by law or is neglectful any of duty imposed by the law. Such offenses may include:

  •          Speeding
  •          Running through a stop light or stop sign
  •          Driving on the wrong side of the road
  •          Failing to yield the right-of-way
  •          Failing to indicate a turn

Understanding the Consequences of Misdemeanors in South Carolina

Contrary to public opinion, not all crimes are classified equally across all States in the U.S. In Florence, South Carolina, misdemeanors are conventionally described as criminal offenses more serious than infractions but less consequential than felonies. Misdemeanors are mainly punishable by incarceration in jail or fines determined by the court. Understanding misdemeanors and their resulting consequences should be basic instinct to every citizen. After all, you might end up convicted for one and getting acquitted might become a daunting task, to say the least. Misdemeanors are widely considered to fetch different penalties depending on the gravity of the crime.

Petty misdemeanors usually command a fine of $ 500 or even a six months stint behind bars. On the other hand, gross misdemeanors consist of a different outcome altogether based on the severity of the crime. In most situations, Judges don't hesitate to consider shoplifting as a direct form of gross misdemeanor. On the other hand, traffic violations revolving around speeding or running red lights should warrant prosecution as petty misdemeanors. Make no mistake. A misdemeanor charge can ultimately land you in jail when adequate legal precautions are not implemented. Since most of us marvel at speeding or driving under the influence, you might want to think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car.

Why Drug Charges Should Be Taken Seriously In South Carolina

Drug trafficking is widely considered to be a hot topic of discussion across the U.S. In Florence, South Carolina, the court system doesn't look too kindly to offenders especially when overwhelming evidence puts them liable to substantial fines or even incarceration in prison. Based on the rampant cases of drug distribution and possession, every resource has been diverted to ensure that offenders are arrested and brought to justice before a court of law. Being convicted of drug charges can be compared to the proverbial nail in the coffin with bleak chances of acquittal. Not only is jail time a much more possible outcome but your reputation might not recover at all.

Contrary to common knowledge, most citizens fail to comprehend the fundamental rights violated whenever a Police Officer pulls them over during a traffic stop. Since we are trained to be law abiding citizens, common sense dictates that we must comply with every request demanded. In the unfortunate event that you are in possession of drug paraphernalia, an Officer is obligated by law to produce a search warrant before conducting a search and seizure of drugs substances in your vehicle. Since most of us are unaware of such an essential law, it shouldn't be a surprise when we are arraigned before the Precinct.

A DWI can affect your future in and after college

Driving under the influence of alcohol is something almost everyone knows is illegal. You know you shouldn't get behind the wheel when you're intoxicated, because it makes you less attentive and slows your reactions. In just a few seconds, a mistake could lead to a fatal accident or one with serious injuries.

Even if you don't get into an accident, a DWI arrest can land you in hot water with the law and impact your schooling and future career prospects. Here are a few ways that DUIs can affect you if you're convicted.

Misdemeanor record expungement

Having a criminal record of any kind can be difficult on a person, especially when it comes to things like finding employment, securing housing and obtaining professional licenses. Due to this, many people in South Carolina look into a record expungement. Getting misdemeanor charges expunged from a criminal record is possible by going through the right channels and meeting the requirements.

According to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office, expungement simple means removing all traces of a criminal charge from a person’s official record. This includes all associated arrests. Only certain charges can be removed, though. Any charges related to a not guilty verdict or a dismissed case can be removed, along with charges for many 1st degree offenses. Youthful Offender Act convictions and most juvenile offenses can also be taken off a person’s record. Crimes that cannot be removed include fish and wildlife charges and almost all traffic violations.