Helping people since 1943

What Should You Do If Charged with Possession of Drugs?

Call a Criminal Defense Attorney

The first thing you should do if you are charged with possession of drugs is call an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Whether you are in Columbia, South Carolina or in any other state in the nation, only a lawyer with experience knows the current laws in that state pertaining to your charge, and can argue your case effectively to give you the best outcome possible.  People sometimes think that if they only had a small amount of an illegal drug on his or her person at the time of arrest, they can probably beat the charges on their own.  This is a foolish stance to take.  Even if the laws seem straight forward, there are always nuances and issues that people probably not aware of unless they are experienced criminal defense attorneys themselves.

Be Honest with Your Attorney.

Another mistake that people make in regards to their criminal defense is to hide or change certain facts leading to or surrounding their arrest.  You should always be honest with your criminal defense lawyer.  When telling the facts surrounding your case, you need to give your attorney every little detail that you can think of because you don’t know what might be important to arguing in your defense.  In addition, your attorney can’t plan a solid case for you if he ends up being surprised in the middle of the courtroom with new facts presented by the prosecution that you had hidden from him.  Like the old adage says, “Honesty is the best policy.”

Trust Your Criminal Defense Attorney.

Being charged with drug possession tends to cause a lot of tension for you and those involved.  The best way to set your mind at ease is to trust your criminal defense attorney.  It is his job to take all the facts of the case and think through how to represent you in a way that will give you the best outcome possible.  Even if it is impossible to beat the charge completely, your defense attorney knows how to argue to get a reduced sentence, reduced probation, and more so that the consequences of the conviction are not as steep.  Your only job is to be honest with your lawyer so that she has all that she needs to argue against the charge of possession of drugs.

If you have been charged with possession of drugs, you are not alone.  We are here to help ensure that you obtain your rights and plan the most effective strategy to argue the case in your favor.  Call our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers today at 803-799-7900.

Criminal Defense Lawyers – Your Best Defense!

Finding the best criminal defense lawyer in your area is the most important decision that you have to make before entering the court room. Your criminal defense lawyer is the warrior in your corner, proving your innocence if humanly possible, and if not, fighting to keep the penalties for the crime to a bare minimum. Walking into the courtroom is a nerve-wracking experience, but having an experienced criminal defense lawyer beside you can set your mind at ease.

In order to get the most out of your criminal defense attorney, there are a few simple rules that you should follow:

1. Trust in Your Criminal Defense Team

If you do not decide immediately to put your trust in your criminal defense team, you are likely to withhold important information that could make or break your case. By putting complete trust in them and being honest about all details regarding the crime you are charged with, they will be able to construct a strong, comprehensive legal defense for you. Although you might be hesitant to explain the “bad” details of the crime, by being honest, your legal team will be able to compare the evidence gathered in the investigation against your recollection of events and devise the best plan to represent you.

2. Remember That Every Detail Matters

No matter how insignificant a fact that lead to your arrest may be, your criminal defense team needs to be informed of it. Your view of the events leading to your arrest is biased – you see them from your own perspective. In order to launch an effective defense, your defense attorney needs to know all the facts surrounding your case so that he can construct what happened in a way that will influence the judge and jury in your favor. Your defense attorney can see the facts with an unclouded viewpoint, with no emotions attached, so that he can help to “fill in the blanks” surrounding the facts in a way that favors you.

3. Always Let Your Lawyer Do the Talking

From start to finish, your case will be best handled if you allow your defense lawyer do ALL of the talking on your behalf. From the time of arrest to post-trial, your words can and will be used against you if possible by the prosecution. That’s why it’s imperative that you allow your team of lawyers to construct the proper words to be used in your case, and to only give the information that is required to help win your case in court.

4. When in Doubt, Refer to Rule #1!

If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney in South Carolina, either to defend you from the charges brought against you, or, in the event that you have already lost your case, to defend you on appeal, call 803-799-7900 today.

How to Select the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbia, SC

The Consequences of Misdemeanor and Felony Crimes

If you have been charged with a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor, it is important that you select an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and argue your case.  Many people do not realize how complex the legal system is and start off on the wrong foot after being arrested.  The first thing you should do is to call a criminal defense lawyer in your area so that you understand what your rights are,  see the legal repercussions surrounding your case, and have someone on your side to advise and support you.

Implications of Misdemeanor Crimes

Misdemeanor crimes are those such as shop lifting inexpensive items, which carry prison terms of less than a year in addition to fines, a suspended driver’s license, or other consequences.  Although conviction of these crimes, at times, does not carry jail time at all, it still goes on your permanent record and can drastically affect your life.  When employers see a crime of any type on your record, they are less likely to give you an interview, much less hire you.  If your license has been suspended for a misdemeanor drug or alcohol conviction, you are also impeded in your ability to get to work or participate in life activities without depending on others.

Implications of Felony Crimes

Felony charges carry a sentence that is longer than a year and up to a life sentence.  In some states, a death sentence is even possible, depending on the crime.  Violent crimes, such as domestic violence disputes, armed robberies, and certain drug trafficking offenses, usually carry longer sentencing times if convicted.  Whether the charges are being brought against you as a juvenile or adult, it is essential to your future that you find an experienced, successful criminal defense attorney in your area.

If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney in South Carolina, either to defend you from the charges brought against you, or, in the event that you have already lost your case, to defend you on appeal, call 803-799-7900 today.

 

What a DUI Defense Attorney Does for You

In South Carolina, mandatory sentencing can mean the loss of driving privileges if you are convicted of a DUI offense. If you are a first time offender, your license can be revoked for six months, while a third time DUI conviction can result in a permanent loss of driving privileges. Because of these strict penalties, it is best to hire an experienced DUI attorney who can help you avoid conviction. 

If you are like most people in South Carolina, driving is not only a privilege but also a necessity of life. If you lose your license due to a DUI conviction, it can seriously impede your life.  It forces you to depend on friends or family members or to use the public transportation system to get you where you need to go on a daily basis.  This can severely limit job opportunities, cause mental frustration, and result in limited personal growth opportunities. Retaining your driver’s license gives you the freedom to move forward in life, to accept opportunities as they are presented to you, and to expand your physical boundaries. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you keep the freedoms that driving provides.

A DUI defense attorney will:

  • Identify inconsistencies in the data collected against you.
  • Explain the case presented against you and the best strategy for the defense against that case.
  • Highlight the positive aspects of your case, including: background information, character information, and witness accounts.
  • Negotiate the reduction of charges levied against you in the case of overwhelming evidence.

Please note that, while we do not advocate drinking and driving, we do take pride in making sure that those accused of drinking and driving are treated fairly and represented properly in a court of law. If you have any questions, please contact us directly at 803-799-7900.

How to Win a DUI Hearing

Contrary to what you might have seen on television or the Internet, winning at a DUI hearing isn’t as easy as showing up, following a list of advice you found on the Internet, and walking out with a clean record. Beating a DUI conviction takes knowledge of the laws in your state of conviction, expertise in the legal process, and the ability to pull from multiple resources under pressure. That’s why the absolute best way to win a DUI hearing is to hire a DUI defense attorney.

DUI defense attorneys have a wealth of people working on their behalf, including paralegals and other researchers, who can dig into the facts of your case and find discrepancies and information that might initially have been missed. In addition to researchers investigating the facts pertinent to your case, there are also researchers that pull information on similar cases that resulted in having the charges dropped. Finally, your DUI defense attorney develops multiple strategies for your specific case and arrives in court well-prepared to represent you with an arsenal of ways to win your DUI hearing.

Instead of taking into account all that they have to lose if a DUI conviction occurs, many people assume that a DUI attorney’s services are not worth the amount that is charged. Sadly, a large portion of these individuals are now paying for their choice to not hire an attorney in other ways such as license suspensions, court fees, jail time, and loss of employment.

When it comes down to a choice between saving a few dollars to represent yourself or investing money into keeping that DUI conviction off of your record by paying for the power of a DUI defense attorney, hiring the DUI attorney is worth the money every time.

Please call 803.799.7900 to find out how our DUI defense attorneys can help you.
 

How Potential Employers View a DUI Conviction

Many people fail to realize the seriousness of driving under the influence.  Not only is your family impacted by a DUI conviction, but the ability to work a career of your choice both currently and in the future is affected. Whether you’re currently employed or simply looking for work, it’s important that you understand the normal view employers take when dealing with an employment application that has had a DUI conviction on it.

Age of the offense

Although you deserve the benefit of the doubt with regards to a DUI conviction, it is still a serious offence that may cost you a potential job, so you need to know how to address this in an interview. While interviewing, employers are likely to question you about when the conviction occurred, taking into account that many DUI convictions occur in those “young and reckless” years.  If the offense occurred when you were “younger,” and no repeat offenses have followed, then most likely your indiscretion will be overlooked. Remember, many employers also have had some wild and crazy days in their youth, so they tend to empathize with you, having grown wiser from what they have experienced.

Clean driving history for a number of recent years

The best thing you can do if you have had a DUI conviction is to keep your current driving record clean. A potential employer is likely to look at your current track record to see if you have learned from your mistake and become more responsible. If you have demonstrated this over the course of the last 10 years and avoided additional infractions, then you have shown that your DUI may have been a simple lapse in judgment.

Rehabilitation

If you have gone through rehabilitation, then the hiring company should be made aware of it. We don’t recommend you post your DUI information on your application, but instead write that you choose to discuss your criminal record. A sincere face-to-face meeting will allow you to explain your recovery process, rather than allowing the potential employer to assume the worst and refuse an interview.

Relevance to the position held

If the position you’re being hired for does not include driving, then the DUI conviction may not weigh in heavily at all. However, having a current driving record that is free of infractions helps  prove that you are trustworthy, reliable, and responsible – even if the position does not require driving.

Having a DUI is not a guaranteed rejection in the hiring process; it simply means that you have to work a little harder to prove that you are deserving of the job. Feel free to contact us at 803-799-7900 if you would like to discuss ways we may be able to help.
 

Getting Hired With a DUI Conviction in South Carolina

Before we begin, it’s important to realize that stereotyping a person who has been found guilty of South Carolina DUI Penalties may not be “right,” but occurs every day in the job market. During the hiring process – especially during a recession when there are hundreds of applicants – your DUI conviction could be a deal breaker. In order for you to overcome this obstacle, you need to be aware of the stereotypes a potential employer might have so that you can effectively counter them.

Many prospective employers, whether in South Carolina or elsewhere, assume that a job applicant with a DUI conviction means that –

1. The applicant has a substance abuse problem.

Although a DUI conviction does not necessarily mean there is a substance abuse problem, many potential employers do not take the time to find out the actual circumstances behind the conviction.  This stereotype means that it is up to the applicant find a way to let the employer know the truth. 

2. The applicant has judgment that is questionable.

Since companies rely on their workers to make the best decisions at all times, many employers are hesitant to hire someone who has had a DUI conviction.  They assume that because the applicant had poor judgment once, he or she might have poor judgment again, and many are not willing to take the risk of hiring someone with poor judgment. Again, it is up to the applicant to prove that the DUI conviction was a one-time occurrence, and that his or her track record since that time has been impeccable.

3. The applicant is an increased liability.

Increased liability is ultimately an extension of number two – questionable judgment. However, since finances tend to drive the decisions that companies make, hiring someone who could potentially cost the company money is more liability than many companies are willing to take, especially if the job entails driving. 

Although telling a potential employer about a DUI conviction is daunting, it never pays to try to hide your DUI conviction.  Be honest.  Explain how you have changed and have a clean driving record since that time.

Having a DUI is not a guaranteed rejection in the hiring process; it simply means that you have to work a little harder to prove that you are deserving of the job. Feel free to contact us at 803-799-7900 if you would like to discuss ways we may be able to help.
 

Before you drink and drive in South Carolina, assess your level of sobriety.

To avoid ever needing the services of a South Carolina DUI attorney, you should determine and understand when you have consumed your limit in alcohol before you ever sit behind the steering wheel of a car. When most people are arrested and/or convicted of a DUI, they think that they are well below the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for legal driving in South Carolina.  By informing you of the self-check sobriety tips below, we hope to save not only your reputation and money, but possibly your life.

In general, if you know you are going to drink and that you also have to drive, you should hand your keys to a designated driver or a bartender.  However, if drinking is an unexpected event (such as in a professional setting), then it may be possible that the keys are in your pocket when it’s time for you to leave.  If you find yourself in this situation, you need to check yourself before you walk out the door.

Most people will tell you to know your blood alcohol content (BAC) in order to understand whether or not you have had too much to drink. However, at a bar, club, or social event, knowing the exact effect that an alcoholic beverage will have on you will vary depending on your weight and stomach content.  A few simple sobriety tests you can give yourself (or administer to a friend) include –

  • Does your breath smell of alcoholic beverage?
  • Is your speech slurred?
  • Are your eyes red or glassy?
  • Are your thoughts or actions slower than usual?
  • Are you extremely tired or lethargic?
  • Do you lack coordination or have you walked with a loss of balance?

Remember, you do not have to be falling over and stumbling to be arrested and/or convicted of a DUI. South Carolina law enforcement officers, along with police officers in most states, have the right to pull you over if there is probable cause to believe that you have violated the law, particularly motor vehicle and traffic safety laws.  Additionally, law enforcement officers occasionally set up drivers’ license and sobriety checkpoints. Once stopped, any sign of intoxication, even when unfounded, may lead to suspicion of driving under the influence.

The easiest way to avoid trouble is to refrain from driving when consuming alcohol, even if you are not legally impaired.  In the alternative, knowing your own condition is the surest way to avoid being stopped and/or arrested for DUI in South Carolina.
 

The Impact of Mandatory Sentencing on a SC DUI

The impact of mandatory sentencing when you have been charged with SC drunk driving offenses means that all judicial discretion is removed upon conviction.  In the past, the fate of those convicted of driving under the influence was in the hands of the judge, but now courts enforce mandatory penalties that remove the judge’s ability to do any more than find guilt or innocence in a case.
 
Several factors are taken into consideration upon conviction, and they affect the sentence assigned upon a guilty verdict. The leading factors in South Carolina DUI penalties are based on –

  1. The number of previous DUI (or DWI) offenses you have
  2. Your blood alcohol count (BAC) at the time of arrest
  3. The circumstances under which you were arrested

For example, the consequences of a DUI first offense are a six month license suspension, a fine up to $1,000, community service, and a jail term up to 90 days. However, if property was damaged as in the case of a car accident, or if a life was lost or another individual injured, you can expect that the mandatory sentence for the first offense DUI will be the minimum penalty you will face.
 
Second, third, and fourth time offenders are treated much more harshly by judges who may feel that the offenders failed to learn a lesson from the sentence received during their previous convictions. In these cases, judges can impose fines up to $10,000 and require permanent license revocation (this penalty is reserved for fourth time offenders).
 
Mandatory sentencing is meant to serve as a “wake up call” to those with first time DUI offenses without injuries, and to severely punish repeat offenders. For more information or to obtain counsel regarding your South Carolina DUI Penalty, please call us at 803-799-7900.
 

Tips for Buying a Home

clos·ing (‘klO-zi[ng]), noun, the name of the final meeting between a buyer and seller in which a real estate sale transaction is consummated, when title is transferred, money is exchanged, and when the necessary papers are signed and delivered; a meeting where real property is conveyed. A real estate closing entails much more than a meeting between a buyer and seller. The actual meeting is oftentimes the only time that a buyer and seller are together, in some circumstances, the parties may never meet at all. Much has to happen before a closing can take place. The following are some guidelines to remember before purchasing a home:

1. Determine What You Can Afford to Spend 

The first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of home you would like to buy and how much you can afford to pay. Remember that your calculations will only be an estimate of your actual cost. Until you have selected the loan type and terms, you can only use this estimate to help determine the price range of homes you want to preview. 

2. Get Pre-approved for a Loan

In order to know that you won’t have a problem with obtaining financing, it is best to find out for certain the size of mortgage for which you can qualify. You can either go to a mortgage broker or directly to a lender to find out what your options are. The pre-approval letter the lender issues you also may help you be taken more seriously by agents and sellers because they will recognize you as someone who is prepared to buy. 

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

Using an agent can help you in numerous ways, and remember that both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent are paid out of the seller’s proceeds which are usually taken into consideration in the marketing price of the home.

You can enter into a buyer’s representation agreement with the agent. This agreement means that you will have one agent representing you as a buyer. The agreement empowers the agent to not only search the latest Multiple Listing Service list, but to seek alternative means of finding you a home, including searching foreclosures and homes for sale by owner. With a signed agreement, the agent becomes a fiduciary and must act, by law, in your best interests. 

4. Write a Contract

When you have found the home you want, you will write a contract, usually through your agent or your attorney. Your offer should specify, among other things, the purchase price, which items and fixtures are to remain and are part of the purchase price, the date of closing, and when you will take possession. Your contract also should set forth some contingencies, such as getting a home inspection and evaluating and approving its results. If your inspection reveals major problems, you and the seller can renegotiate the contract, insofar as what the seller is willing to pay for repairs, and if he refuses and you are no longer interested in buying, then you can withdraw your offer without any repercussions and you are entitled to return of earnest money. Other contingencies may include, your ability to obtain favorable financing and/or the house appraising for the contract sales price. 

5. Obtain Financing 

As soon as you and the seller have executed the contract of sale, you must apply for financing. If you have been pre-approved, much of the work has already been done and your loan will process more quickly. You will need to decide what type of loan you are interested in obtaining, the term of the mortgage, (ie: 15 yr , 30 yr); and whether you are interested in a fixed or an adjustable interest rate. Discuss all of these options with your lender or mortgage broker. Loan officers are very knowledgeable and can guide you through these options.

6. Choose a Real Estate Attorney

In South Carolina, attorneys must handle closings of real estate. We live in an attorney preference state wherein you, as buyer, have a right to choose your own attorney. An attorney will ensure that the property is properly conveyed and is free and clear of any title defects You need to find an attorney whose practice is concentrated in the area of real estate. These attorneys are more familiar with the possible pitfalls that may arise and, hopefully, can remedy them as quickly as possible. The attorney also will work closely with the lender and real estate agent to protect your rights in this sometimes complex transaction.

7. Inspection Letters – Termite and Heating and Air

Many sales contracts require that you have a Aclear@ termite letter and heating and air letter in order to close the transaction. This is more protection for the buyer and can reveal some unpleasant surprises, such as your inspector may find a major problem with the furnace or the foundation. These are problems that must be fixed or the home cannot be conveyed. The seller generally has to arrange to pay for the repairs, or have the repairs paid for out of his proceeds.

8. The Closing

Until closing, and even during the closing, be prepared for anything to happen. Possible pitfalls may include your closing costs being higher than you thought because some additional fees have been added; problems with your credit report that delays the closing; a problem the seller was supposed to fix was not repaired in time; or the appraisal may come in the day before closing and be short of the asking price of the home. If any of these things or problems arise, hopefully you have retained a knowledgeable attorney and real estate agent to guide you through these pitfalls. Remember, prepare for the worst and expect the best. It is a wonderful feeling to be a homeowner.