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Summerville South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

You have to speak up for your right to remain silent

Facing accusations of a violent crime can be frightening, confusing and stressful. Regardless of what happened, it is human nature to want to explain the events. However, it is usually in your best interest to remain silent.

You do not have to answer questions regarding the incident that resulted in the accusations against you. Like nearly everyone else here in South Carolina, you have most likely watched television shows and movies where a person is told that he or she has the right to remain silent, so you decide that is what you will do.

Do you have to consent to a vehicle search?

Though traffic stops are relatively common occurrences throughout South Carolina and across the country, it is rarely a comfortable experience to be stopped by police. Even if you do not believe you did anything wrong, you may worry that an officer will get the wrong idea or suspect something illegal has occurred. If you feel nervous during the stop, you may think the officer will think you are hiding something.

These concerns are valid, and officers do take physical cues into consideration when conducting a traffic stop. If you seem antsy or nervous, an officer may think you have something to hide. If your eyes are red or you seem unkempt, the officer may suspect you of drinking and driving or using drugs. As a result, the officer may want to search your vehicle.

How are the penalties for drug charges determined?

If you or a loved one faces serious drug charges, the first thing you want to know is often what penalties you could face. There is a wide range of penalties for drug charges, which can make the situation seem even more overwhelming.

To determine the specific penalties, it is often helpful to understand the different drug schedules.

The police have a warrant. What can you do?

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from being subject to unreasonable police searches. In most cases, this requires the police to obtain a search warrant.

And what if they have a search warrant? Simply because they have a warrant does not mean that you do not have options. It is critical to understand what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Are breath test results always reliable?

Anyone an officer has pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in South Carolina knows just how anxiety-inducing the thought of sobriety testing is. Most people participate in testing when asked because they feel that they have to. The truth is, you can refuse if you think you should. However, consequences may follow.

Consequences aside, the one reason you may want to consider refusing a breath test is that there is question regarding its accuracy. While there are those who tout breath tests as very reliable, many experts agree that is not actually the case.

What to expect if your child is arrested

You never thought your child would be in this position, but here he or she is. Police arrested him or her, and now you have a million questions about what comes next. The juvenile system is quite a bit different than the adult criminal system, and for good reason. The goal of the juvenile system is to help, rather than punish, children who make questionable life choices that result in their arrest. 

A juvenile, any child age 17 or younger, who ends up in police custody, is automatically in the South Carolina juvenile justice system. Schools or a Circuit Solicitor may also recommend placement in this program. What happens next depends on several factors -- such as age, current criminal charge, prior criminal history and intake interview results, among other things. 

Find a safe way home if you plan to consume alcohol

Any time you plan on having a night out with friends, it is important to remember that accidents and other mishaps can happen at any time. Though you never intend to get rowdy or cause trouble, you may plan to have a few drinks as you meet and catch up with friends. You may consider yourself a responsible drinker, but it is important to remember that South Carolina police officers watch out for any signs of drinking and driving.

To avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, you will want to determine your best options for finding a safe way home. Fortunately, a number of options exist for doing just that.

Will new cars all come with alcohol detection systems?

State and federal governments have been trying for years to solve the problem of drunk driving. You may agree that it is a serious issue since about 30 people die in alcohol-related accidents each day. Some measures include lowering the blood alcohol concentration limit, increasing the penalties for conviction and requiring convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock systems in their vehicles.

Since ignition interlock systems have had some success in lowering the number of DUI accidents and fatalities, Congress is working to mandate similar systems in every new car as early as 2024. The proposed program is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. Like many South Carolina residents who hear this news, you may have many questions about how this may work and whether it may place your rights at risk.

Is Adult Drug Court a viable option for you?

No one sets out to become addicted to drugs, but it happens. Perhaps you suffered an injury and your doctor prescribed opioids for your pain. Before you realized it, you were addicted. When doctors would no longer give you the pills, you went looking for them elsewhere.

At some point, you had an encounter with police, and they found you illegally possessing drugs. Instead of accepting the criminal penalties for drug possession, you requested that the court send you to Adult Drug Court. If accepted, you would need to plead guilty to the charge. The court will defer your sentence, pending the successful completion of the program, at which point the court will dismiss the charges and the sentence.

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