Mount Pleasant South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

What factors impact a criminal sentence handed down by the court?

A person who is convicted of a crime will have to go through the sentencing phase of their case. This is when the court lets them know what consequences they face because of the conviction. Contrary to what many people think, there are several factors that come into the picture when the court determines what's appropriate for a specific case.

There are often opportunities for the defense to minimize the penalties. Knowing of potential ramificaions can provide an idea of what they can do to try to combat harsh sentences.

South Carolina man sentenced on gun and drug charges

A South Carolina man was sentenced to spend 242 months in a federal prison to be followed by 72 months of supervised release on Jan. 6. A jury found the man guilty of possessing illegal drugs with the intent to distribute and possessing a gun while being a convicted felon after a trial lasting two days. The man was originally taken into custody by the Florence County Sheriff's Office. The Drug Enforcement Administration was called in because of the amount of drugs involved.

The chain of events that led to the man's sentencing began when FCSO deputies pulled his vehicle over for failing to yield the right of way on the night of July 27, 2018. Deputies say that they became suspicious and decided to search the car after noticing the smell of marijuana. The man is said to have admitted to deputies that he had a small amount of the drug on him for his own personal use.

3 reasons to fight your first South Carolina DUI charge

While the criminal justice system in the United States extends a presumption of innocence to anyone charged with a crime, those facing impaired driving or driving under the influence (DUI) charges often don't receive the benefit of the doubt from their peers or people in the criminal justice system.

There is an inaccurate perception among many people that faulty DUI arrests simply do not occur. Between sobriety tests conducted in the field by police officers and chemical testing units, it seems as though there is plenty of evidence in most impaired driving cases to make them relatively open and shut.

More people may face DUI charges over cannabis

A growing number of people in South Carolina and across the country report using cannabis recreationally, especially as a growing number of states and cities are moving towards decriminalization or legalization. This has sparked some concerns about an increase in driving while intoxicated although the science related to driving after cannabis use is limited and far less detailed than that related to alcohol use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20.5 million Americans admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol while 12 million said they drove while high after consuming cannabis.

The numbers are based on a 2018 survey in which 8% said they drove drunk, 4.7% said they drove under the influence of cannabis, and .9% said they drove under the influence of another illegal drug. The CDC said that the survey results showed a sharp decline in drunk driving since the last time the study was conducted in 2017; the incidence of driving while under the influence of cannabis had risen although not enough to wipe out the drunk driving reduction. According to the survey, young people aged 21 to 25 were most likely to drive after consuming cannabis.

What to know about hacking laws

Hacking is among the more recognizable computer crimes that a person could commit. South Carolina residents who have been victims of data breaches or similar events have likely had their personal information stolen or otherwise accessed by a hacker. It is important to note that hacking is only a crime if a person doesn't have permission to access a network. In some cases, companies or other entities will invite outside parties to attempt to access their servers.

This is typically referred to as ethical hacking, and the goal of ethical hacking is to become aware of security flaws before someone can exploit them for nefarious purposes. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is the main piece of legislation used to prosecute those who hack into computers or similar devices. A person may be charged with hacking if he or she gains unauthorized access to tablets or smartphones.

What to know about drug distribution charges

Individuals in South Carolina who are found to be participating in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal substances may be charged with a crime. Generally speaking, a prosecutor must show that a person both possessed a controlled substance and intended to distribute it. This can be difficult in some cases as items used to create or sell a drug aren't necessarily illegal to possess. These items could include lamps, seeds or hydroponic equipment used to grow marijuana.

However, it is possible that those who are found with equipment typically used for making drugs could be charged with other crimes. While the federal government treats marijuana as a Schedule I drug, states may treat the substance differently. Typically, the federal government will defer to state law if the drug has been decriminalized or is otherwise treated less harshly. States may also have different rules as it relates to how much a person can grow or possess for medical reasons.

Tax evasion: Details of this serious white collar crime

Even though you understand the importance of filing your taxes on time and paying in full, it's natural to think of the many ways you can save yourself money.

While it's not ideal, it's okay if you make an honest mistake on your tax return. For example, a math mistake may result in owing additional money, but it won't result in criminal charges.

Refusing a breath test in South Caroina

When South Carolina residents obtain their driver's licenses, they agree to submit to a test of their breath, blood or urine when ordered to do so by a police officer. However, the implied consent law only goes into effect when the motorist has been placed under arrest. This means that police officers must have probable cause to believe that motorists are operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol before they can demand that they submit to chemical tests.

Drivers who feel that the results of a breath test would give prosecutors the evidence they need to secure a drunk driving conviction may be tempted to refuse to submit to testing. While a refusal would deny prosecutors valuable evidence, it would not make proving such charges in court impossible. In many situations, the refusal could be almost as incriminating as the toxicology evidence would have been. Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test also face mandatory sanctions. This means drivers who refuse a breath test and are then convicted of DUI are punished twice.

Facebook messages can be proof, but it's not simple

You tend to do most of your communication online. You don't really like to make phone calls. You don't mind text messages, but it's often a lot faster to write on your computer, instead. As a result, you end up sending a lot of Facebook messages.

What you start wondering is if you're potentially leaving a "paper" trail that could come up if you find yourself accused of a crime. Say the authorities accuse you of attempting to sell drugs when they find a large amount of drugs and money in your car during a traffic stop. Can they use your online messages as evidence in court?

Learn more about zero-tolerance laws

Young drivers in South Carolina should be aware of the legal standards that are set in place for individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol when they are 21 years of age and younger. It is illegal for individuals 21 years of age and under to purchase and possess alcohol.

In most states, motorists who drive with a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration level could be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Zero-tolerance laws make it so that individuals under the age of 21 could also be charged with a criminal DUI offense if they have a blood alcohol concentration level of as little as .02 depending on the state. This means that drinking even the weakest beer or smallest glass of wine and then driving could lead someone under the age of 21 being charged with a DUI.

    1. Charleston County | Bar Association
    2. South Carolina Association of criminal Defense Lawyers
    3. Rated By Super Lawyers | Rising Stars | Cameron J.Blazer |
    4. South Carolina Bar
    5. Liberty Fellowship
    1. Aspen Global Leadership Network | The Aspen Institute
    2. Justice 360 | Advancing Equality in the justice System
    3. Jefferson Awards Foundation
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