Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

Hands Across the Border takes place at South Carolina state line

Labor Day weekend tends to be a busy time of the year for authorities enforcing drunk driving laws in South Carolina. People mark the end of summer with travel and social gatherings at which they may consume alcohol. Hands Across the Border events have taken place in the Southeast since 1991, allowing law enforcement from two adjoining states to cooperate with one another to make the roads safer by removing impaired drivers. North and South Carolina have held similar events at their shared border for approximately 20 years. 

This year, law enforcement agencies from North and South Carolina set up public safety checkpoints on both sides of the state line on Friday night in the Little River area. Authorities on the South Carolina side issued 25 tickets. Three of them involved alcohol or drugs, while the others included violations for window tint, equipment, no proof of insurance and for license and/or registration. North Carolina authorities reported "a few" DWI arrests, but no further specifics are available. 

Many factors affect how your body handles alcohol

The way that alcohol impacts the body and mind make it unsafe for drivers to operate vehicles when they are under the influence. Because not everybody reacts exactly the same to alcohol, anyone who is going to drink must understand what factors affect how the body handles it.

When you are accused of drunk driving, your blood alcohol concentration percentage will be determined. In South Carolina, people who are 21 years old or older have a BAC limit of .08%. Anyone who has a BAC of that level or higher will face drunk driving charges. But, there is no firm limit to the number of drinks that will make you reach that level.

More jobs for people with criminal records

People in South Carolina who have been arrested for and charged with criminal offenses might understandably be concerned about how this experience may impact their future. In addition to the possibility of having to spend time in jail, a criminal conviction on their record might make it hard to get a new job, even for a minor offense. Background checks are routinely conducted by a large percentage of employers, leaving job seekers with criminal pasts wondering how they can move forward.

WBTW.com provided details on a new law that took effect earlier this year that offers help to some people by allowing their records to be completely expunged. This means the record of a particular conviction would not appear on any pre-employment background check. Some of the people helped by this had records from their juvenile years and others could have first offenses removed. If a person with a felony drug conviction had no subsequent felony offenses for two decades, they may also be able to seek an expungement.

What are the implications of crime classifications?

Classification of criminal charges in South Carolina relates to how serious the alleged crime is. Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies but more serious than infractions. When you face misdemeanor charges, it affects the way that the court will handle your case, as well as the consequences you may face after your sentence if convicted. 

According to FindLaw, one or more misdemeanor charges usually means a trial before a jury. However, it may not be a full twelve-juror contingent that hears your case. The jury on a misdemeanor case may include as few as six individuals. Also, those six jurors may be able to convict you even if their vote is not unanimous. 

Gun carry laws in South Carolina

Regardless of your positions on gun control, there may be many reasons that you want to learn about the laws in South Carolina regarding the right to carry a gun. This is especially important if you wish to own a gun so that you do not inadvertently break one of these laws. Every state has unique laws so you cannot simply assume that what you knew to be legal in another state is legal in South Carolina.

According to GunsToCarry.com, the state of South Carolina does not allow you to openly carry a gun in public. You may, however, have a gun in your possession in some places. It is important that you be aware of and watch for signs that indicate weapons are not allowed. It is legal for individual businesses to bar people from entry if they have a gun with them at the time. If you wish to go to a restaurant and have a gun with you, it is illegal for you to drink an alcoholic beverage while there.

Defining shoplifting in South Carolina

Most in Florence might find it difficult to contain a smirk when asked about their thoughts regarding shoplifting. This is no doubt due to many assuming that shoplifting is limited to offenses similar to the proverbial “swiping of a candy bar.” If asked, some might say that the appropriate penalty for such an offense is little more than a stern talking to from a shop owner. In reality, shoplifting is very serious offense that may net serious penalties, and is reportedly a much larger problem than most may realize. Indeed, according to information shared by BlueWaterCredit.com, 2 million Americans are arrested for shoplifting every year. 

Per the South Carolina Legislature, “shoplifting” is defined as: 

  • Taking merchandise (or moving it from one area of a store to another) with the intention of depriving a merchant of the possession or use of the merchandise or not paying its full retail value
  • Altering the price tag on an item (or removing it altogether) with the intention of deceiving a merchant of a product’s actual purchase price
  • Transferring merchandise from one container to another with the intention of avoiding having to pay a product’s full retail value

Why should college students avoid using "study drugs"?

College students have a lot of demands with respect to their schooling. Most have classes, social engagements, extracurricular activities and a job to think about. This might not leave much time for studying for their courses. Finding the energy to study is another factor because by the time a so many other things are done, they might be fatigued.

Determining how to handle this situation can be perplexing. For many college students, dropping a class or working less aren't options. Even if they make a plan for balancing their social and extracurricular activities, there still may not be enough time to get the amount of studying done that is needed. Because of this, some will turn to unconventional methods to try to stay awake. One of these is "study drugs," but this isn't a smart option.

When is a DUI a felony?

Typically, an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance in Florence will net you a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanors may be viewed by some as a proverbial "slap on the wrist," yet do not be fooled: a DUI charge is a very serious offense for which the potential penalties can be even more so. Fines, a license suspension and substance abuse counseling may be included in the punitive action you might have to face. It should also be noted that these are typical penalties when facing with a misdemeanor; imagine how much more grave they may be if you are charged with a felony DUI. 

Per Section 56-5-2945 of South Carolina's Code of Laws, a DUI offense becomes a felony if in the course of driving under the influence you are involved in an accident that causes the great bodily injury or death of another. For the purposes of this law, "great bodily injury" includes any injuries that: 

  • Create a substantial risk of death
  • Cause serious, permanent disfigurement
  • Cause the protracted loss or limitation of function of any bodily system or organ

Cartel leader sentenced based on legal mandates

Anyone in South Carolina who has been following the efforts of those trying to reform the criminal justice system will know that mandatory sentencing is one thing that often comes under scrutiny and attack. More and more, advocates are asserting that mandatory minimum sentences or even mandatory maximum sentences should be eliminated. The reason for this point of view is that these laws prevent individual judges from using their discretion and, in a way, from acting as true judges.

Some reform of criminal laws has been happening and that has included changes to mandatory sentencing laws. Guidelines may be put into effect in lieu of strict requirements for certain crimes. However, the mandatory sentencing laws remain in place relative to a host of offenses. One man who has gained a high level of notoriety over the past few decades was recently sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison based on these laws, at least in part.

Conditional discharge program for disorderly conduct

Most people in South Carolina can think of at least one time in their life when they would like to have the ability to go back and change what they said or did. This, in some respects, is part and parcel of being human. It is common that these situations do not end up leading a person to being arrested and living with a criminal record yet that can happen, even for relatively minor offenses like being overtly drunk in public.

The legal and judicial system does offer some people the opportunity to have their criminal convictions essentially erased. This is often referred to as receiving an expungement of one's record. People who are convicted of offenses including cocaine or other drugs may often be able to have these events removed from their records. A person who has been arrested for and convicted of public drunkenness, however, has not had that same opportunity.