Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Are overdoses common in Florence County?

There is no denying that the whole country is going through a difficult period concerning opioids. This epidemic is a serious situation that tears families apart and ruins lives. While it is very easy to believe that it is not happening in your backyard, the reality is that Florence, South Carolina, is not immune to it. Looking at the statistics from Florence County in 2016 show a sad story about how opioids are affecting your community.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control explains that in the state in 2016, there was a total of 550 deaths attributed to opioids. This was an increase of 14 percent over the reported deaths in 2015. The shocking fact is that more people died from opioids than were killed in homicides in 2016.

Know what constitutes shoplifting in South Carolina

Going shopping is a fun activity for many people. However, it comes with some level of temptation. Before you head out to the store, you should have an idea of what you are willing to spend. Make sure that you stick to considering things only if they are in your price range.

No matter what, you should never try to take things from a store without paying for them. You could be charged with shoplifting. It is sometimes possible to face a criminal charge even if you don't actively try to leave the store.

Can you always tell you're too drunk to drive?

South Carolina residents like you who hit the town to enjoy some drinks every now and then may feel as though you have a good grasp on when you become "too drunk to drive". You may be surprised to know that this isn't often the case.

FindLaw takes a look at a few surprising facts. First of all, you can still drive impaired even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is below 0.08 percent, which is the legal limit. This is because different people react to alcohol in different ways. Two beers could be enough to make you feel totally impaired, while a friend may have five and still feel sober.

What behaviors does criminal mischief encompass?

Those who find themselves in the criminal justice system are often facing charges for drunk driving, drug and weapons charges, assault and other serious offenses. Misdemeanor crimes cover a broad range of offenses the South Carolina court system deems less serious. You might have heard the term “criminal mischief” if you have been charged with a lesser crime.

What exactly is criminal mischief? The word “mischief” may almost seem frivolous, but despite being a misdemeanor, criminal mischief is anything but lighthearted. As FindLaw explains, criminal mischief can cover a wide range of illegal activities. For example, you could face a charge for vandalism if you are caught painting graffiti on a wall or throwing rocks at the windows of a building you thought was abandoned. You might be charged with trespassing for going onto private property without permission, regardless of whether you knew you were not supposed to be there.

Can you refuse to submit to a breath test in South Carolina?

Many people are under the misconception that it is legal to refuse a breathalyzer test if requested of them. While laws vary from state to state, in South Carolina, it is illegal to refuse a breath test. This is in large part thanks to South Carolina's "implied consent" laws, which you can review more in-depth in South Carolina Code of Laws.

"Complied consent" in this regard means that if an officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence, he or she has every right to stop you and request a breath test. You do not have the right to refuse the test without penalty. When you accepted licensure for operating a motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina, you subsequently assumed certain duties and relinquished certain rights, one of which is the right to refusal, .  

Are breath test results accurate?

If you have ever been pulled over by law enforcement officers alongside a South Carolina roadside on suspicion of drunk driving, you may have been asked to submit to a breath test. Law enforcement officers use these breath tests to analyze your blood alcohol level and determine whether you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Since officers cannot take a blood sample to test the level of alcohol in your system on the side of the road, the breath test serves as an alternative. However, the readings received from breath test devices may not be accurate.

Since the machine uses an exhaled breath sample to determine the amount of alcohol in your blood, errors can occur during the conversion process. There are several factors that can influence the readings as well, making them less accurate and reliable. Breath test machines that are not routinely calibrated can give false results. Furthermore, if an officer uses the device incorrectly, the readings may be wrong a well. Environmental factors, such as pollution, gas fumes and smoke in the air can affect the readout. Other factors, such as electrical static from officers’ hand-held radios and cellphones, as well as the relative temperature and humidity of the air may alter readings as well, making them higher.

IID rules under attack

If you have been arrested for and charged with a drunk driving offense in South Carolina, you may be wondering if you will have to install and use an ignition interlock device. This is an understandable concern as these devices can be very expensive and all costs are your responsibility under the law. This includes the costs to have the system installed and eventually removed as well as any leasing and calibration fees along the way.

In addition, using an IID may be very cumbersome and even embarrassing. However, there may be options for you to avoid having to use an ignition interlock device. As explained by The State, if you are charged with a first driving under the influence charge and your blood alcohol content was below 0.15 percent at the time of your arrest, it is not required that you install an IID. If your BAC was 0.15 percent or greater, you may still be able to avoid the IID by working with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Alcohol at parties can lead to college fights and assault charges

College kids are notorious for loving to throw big parties, try new things and learn through experience. While college students are generally more mature than the typical teenager, they still do not have a fully formed frontal lobe. In other words, consequences for their actions aren't always the first consideration on their mind.

When you add alcohol into that situation, minor issues can quickly escalate and become volatile unnecessarily. College students in South Carolina who get into fights at parties may not think much of their behavior at the time. However, in the days that follow the fight, there may be serious consequences.

The impact of misdemeanors on your credit rating

A credit score is used by many financial lenders to determine if a person requesting a loan has a strong history of paying back debt. Being able to qualify for a loan can start a person off on the road to owning a house. However, some South Carolina residents may wonder if being convicted of a misdemeanor can directly harm their credit score and cause them to miss out on that crucial home mortgage.

The answer to this dilemma starts with understanding whether a credit report will record your misdemeanor on it. Pocketsense explains that your credit report does not list your criminal record, so there is no place where your misdemeanor can be recorded. If a financial lender is looking for any past criminal history, it will not be found on your credit report. So a misdemeanor in it of itself will not cause your credit score to go down.

Cameras and IIDs

If a person has been arrested for a suspected drunken driving offense in South Carolina, they will want to get educated about their defense options and any potential penalties they could face if they are eventually convicted of an impaired driving charge. One penalty that may be associated with a driving under the influence charge is the required use of an ignition interlock device. 

The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services explains that even if a drunk driving charge is a first offense, a driver might be ordered to install and use an IID. This could happen if the blood alcohol content was 0.16 percent or greater at the time of arrest. People may know that an IID requires drivers to supply a clean breath sample every time they want to drive their vehicles. But, one thing that many people in South Carolina might not know is that an IID system might be taking their picture every time they take a breath test.