Florence Criminal Defense Law Blog

What are the three kinds of South Carolina misdemeanors?

If you face misdemeanor charges in South Carolina, the specific crime(s) law enforcement and the prosecution allege that you committed could be any number of “lesser” crimes, as opposed to the more serious crimes designated as felonies.

Even in terms of misdemeanors, however, South Carolina has three different classifications. Per the South Carolina Legislature, these misdemeanor classifications and their penalties are as follows:

  1. Class C misdemeanors: maximum incarceration of one year upon conviction plus maximum fine of $1,000
  2. Class B misdemeanors: maximum incarceration of two years upon conviction and fine range of $1,000-$2,000
  3. Class A misdemeanors: maximum incarceration of three years upon conviction plus maximum fine of $2,500

Continued criminal justice reform sought

In 2010, reports indicate that only 10 states in the nation had higher incarceration rates than South Carolina. That year criminal justice reform efforts began and today the state's incarceration rate has improved from number 11 to number 19. In addition, seven prisons that were previously in use are no longer and as many as 6,000 fewer people overall are incarcerated in South Carolina compared to 2007.

A group of state lawmakers want to continue this trend and have sponsored a bill that seeks to reduce the number of people in prisons even further. This effort targets in some fashion those people who are 60 years of age or older. The proposal would allow people in this age group who have served at least 50 percent of their original sentences to seek parole. Supporters of the effort indicate that this group can be expensive to keep in prison and also has a lower risk of returning once they are released.

Criminal charges can affect your college life

There are many aspects of your life that can be affected by a criminal charge. The type of charge might have an impact on what consequences you face. One of the shocking potential penalties has to do with higher education.

Two things can happen with higher education if you are charged with a criminal act. One is that you might not be eligible for financial aid for your schooling. The other is that you may not eligible to attend the school of your choice.

When a shoplifting charge threatens a reputation

It may seem a small act, but can result in major consequences: shoplifting is a crime that affects a multitude of customers and business owners each year. While the taking of an item that is not one's own is certainly problematic for South Carolina businesses, it can also inflict serious damage on a person's reputation and career. Below are some recent developments in this area of crime, as well as a few ways residents can navigate a shoplifting charge.  

In recent years, some retail giants have turned to different theft-prevention strategies, as Quartz highlighted in an article on shoplifting solutions. Walmart, for instance, loses roughly $3 billion each year to shoplifting; in response, the company hired another company to address the widespread issue through education. Now, when someone is caught stealing at one of the stores, they may receive instruction from security guards asking to pay a fee and to participate in a 6-8 hour online course. While the founders of one of the preventative programs, Corrective Education Company, believe that this new strategy is an advancement, critics consider the program "extortion."

A DUI doesn't have to prevent getting a job

Among the many things that people in South Carolina who get convicted of drunk driving offenses must be concerned with is their future ability to get a job. Even though it may only be a misdemeanor, a driving under the influence charge is a criminal offense that may show up on a background check. In today's world, background checks are standard parts of the hiring process for most employers.

But before they give up hope and think that they will never be able to work again, people should be reassured that there are ways they can move past a previous DUI conviction and secure a job that will help them have the future they desire. One thing that residents can do according to Forbes is to conduct their own background check on themselves. This is like getting their own credit report.

Traffic stop results in arrests for other charges

People in South Carolina who have been arrested may well know that their ultimate arrests might have little or nothing to do with the original reason that law enforcement officers initially approached them. Even though that can happen it is also important for people to know that their rights should always be protected and any investigation or search process should respect those rights and follow the laws associated with those.

Reports indicate that last autumn, police are said to have personally witnessed two men allegedly smoking pot while in a vehicle in Columbia, South Carolina. Due to what they believed they saw, the police stopped the vehicle and pulled the men over. During the stop process, the officers found both a firearm and multiple pills containing a methamphetamine mix. Details of how the officers came to search the entire vehicle are not known.

The severity of a misdemeanor charge

When South Carolina residents are charged with a misdemeanor, they may think that this is not a serious offense. A misdemeanor charge can have far-reaching consequences, though, and it is important to understand how a seemingly simply offense can affect someone's life for years.

A misdemeanor can affect a person's life in many ways. According to Time magazine, a conviction can carry serious consequences. People may find that they are unable to get loans from some lenders or have restricted access to housing. Others might have difficulty getting custody of their children or visitation rights. A person's job can also be affected by a misdemeanor conviction, as he or she may be unable to become licensed in certain fields.

Drunk driving crashes can lead to lots of legal trouble

The easiest way to ruin a night out with your friends is to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after having a few drinks and then getting into an accident. A drunk driving crash is the first event in a long line of them that can have a negative impact on your life.

There are two things that you will likely have to worry about after this type of crash. One of these is the criminal charges that you may face. The other is the civil case that might come from the victims. These cases can be difficult but you will have to face them head-on.

What is drug diversion?

Have you or a family member been arrested in South Carolina and charged with a criminal drug offense? If so, you may understandably be upset and one of the concerns on your mind might be how your life will be impacted with a criminal conviction on your record. You will be pleased to know that there may be an opportunity to avoid having a permanent criminal conviction on your record if you are eligible for what is called a drug diversion program.

As explained by the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office, the state of South Carolina has developed drug diversion programs to help select defendants avoid the long-term stigma of life with a criminal record. Generally these programs are reserved for people with no prior criminal offenses and who have been charged with relatively minor crimes. Courts also may benefit from these programs by reducing the number of people who must be processed through court proceedings and who may end up in detention centers, jails or correctional facilities.

Man charged with DUI after refusing breath test

People in South Carolina who are charged with drunk or drugged driving offenses have the same right to defend themselves as do people arrested for other criminal offenses. This can feel difficult at times, however, because reports of these arrests often include limited details that on their own make it difficult to even consider a defendant innocent for any reason. It can also make it hard for people to remember that defendants have rights that must be respected by law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system.

Such is the case in a way for a man who was arrested recently near Jacksonville in Florida after a crash in which his vehicle is said to have hit a tree. Reports indicate that officers suspected that the man may have been intoxicated and that is what ultimately led him to hit the tree. However, the defendant told them that he left the road because he needed to urinate. There was identified a damp spot on the man's pants and it is unclear if that spot was urine, alcohol or something else such as even water.