Stirling & O'Connell

Mount Pleasant Criminal Law Blog

A drug charge is not a simple matter

Chemical addiction is an increasing problem throughout the United States. If you have a drug-related conviction on your record in South Carolina, it could negatively affect the rest of your life. At Stirling & O’Connell, we often represent clients facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges.

According to FindLaw, there are several types of drug crimes. Any kind of drug-related conviction on your record carries negative consequences. However, longer sentences accompany federal charges. Defense varies, depending on the offense severity.

What you should not do if you are pulled over

Being pulled over in South Carolina on suspicion of DUI can be a scary or even angering event, which is why anyone in this position should maintain calm if a police officer signals them to stop. There are any number of things you might think of to try to get out of the situation, but just about all of them will make things worse and could add criminal charges on top of a DUI arrest or traffic ticket.

Cheatsheet explains that drivers should be careful what to say to police. The best approach is to remain silent except to answer the appropriate questions from the officer. Do not try to threaten the officer or make any implications that something bad might happen unless the officer lets you go. Remember that an officer is on guard for any sign of an impending threat, so an improper action or suggestion of ill will on your part could escalate the situation needlessly.

Tax avoidance vs. tax evasion

No one in Mount Pleasant looks forward to paying taxes, yet most still do it dutifully. That said, no one ever wants to pay more than that which they owe. The trick, then, is understanding exactly what it is that needs to be paid. People often look for many ways to avoid having to pay taxes. One might think that any instance of avoiding paying taxes is a criminal offense, yet there are actually lawful ways to do. One simply needs to understand which strategies are tax avoidance, and which are tax evasion. 

The Internal Revenue Service defines tax avoidance as actions taken to both lessen one's tax liability and maximize their after-tax income. Examples of tax avoidance may include: 

  • Claiming tax credits offered by the IRS
  • Listing deductions such as property tax, medical expenses and charitable contributions
  • Deducting business expenses such as supply costs and travel mileage
  • Using pre-tax dollars to fund retirement accounts
  • Holding on to investments longer to lower capital gains taxes

Have you become a suspect in a police investigation?

Were you in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did police suddenly show up at your door and accuse you of a crime based on "evidence" of your involvement? However it happened, you found yourself in police custody for a crime, and you have no idea how you even became a suspect.

Unfortunately, if authorities found you near a crime scene or found evidence that they believe links you to a crime, you could quickly become a suspect, even if you had no involvement. In some cases, additional evidence may quickly clear your name, but in others, you may find yourself facing serious criminal allegations.

Breaking down South Carolina's drug schedules

Many of those from Mount Pleasant who are facing drug charges come to us here at the Stirling & O'Connell Law Office wanting to know what sort of criminal penalties they could be facing if convicted. If you share the same question, it is important that you understand that the type of penalty associated with a drug charge depends on the substance that you were allegedly involved with. The state recognizes that not all controlled substances are created equal, with some potentially causing more harm than others. 

As such, the state has developed its own series of drug schedules that assist in classifying individual controlled substances. There are five schedules in all, and the list of the substances found in each are in Title 44, Chapter 53 of South Carolina's Code of Laws. The criteria for ranking controlled substances according to each respective drug schedule is as follows: 

  • Schedule I: Substances with a high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical use in the U.S. and whose delivery would be unsafe even under the direction of a physician
  • Schedule II: Substances with a potential for abuse that have been approved for certain medical uses in the U.S. and whose use can lead to sever psychic or physical dependence
  • Schedule II: Substances approved for medical uses in the U.S. whose potential for abuse is less than those found in Schedules I and II and whose use could lead to high psychological dependence or moderate to low physical dependence
  • Schedule IV: Substances with a low potential for abuse and that present a limited risk for developing a dependence
  • Schedule V: Substances that present the lowest risks for abuse and potential for developing a dependence

DUI charges while operating a commercial vehicle

People are pulled over for drunk driving in many different situations, whether they are driving home after spending the evening in a bar or they are returning from a family celebration during a holiday weekend. Sometimes, drunk driving charges can be especially concerning, such as those who find themselves in this position while operating a commercial vehicle as part of their job duties. This can present serious ramifications, not only in terms of financial penalties and the loss of driving privileges but also with regard to their career. If you have been charged with DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, it is pivotal to explore your options.

There are many different types of commercial vehicles, and people often operate these vehicles while on the job. If you have been accused of drunk driving while you were working, you may face serious repercussions as a result of the allegations. Not only could you lose your current job, but you may struggle to find employment in this field in the future. Moreover, your colleagues, friends and family members may be especially critical of you as a result of the case.

What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer test?

When you are enjoying a night out with your friends, the last thing you want is to end the night with criminal charges. Anyone driving through the state of South Carolina should know what the law expects from them. Not every state is the same when it comes to getting pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence.

When a driver gets pulled over by a cop, should they accept or refuse a breathalyzer test? Everyone has the right and ability to say “no” to a breathalyzer test. However, state laws place consequences on those who choose to do so.

Helping your teen deal with a drug case

In a previous post, we explored some of the ways in which drug charges can affect parents. These charges can also have an impact on parents when their child is accused of a drug-related offense. Unfortunately, teenagers may find themselves in this position for all sorts of reasons, including peer pressure, an addiction that resulted from emotional problems and experimental behavior or unfamiliarity with the consequences of a particular offense. As a parent, it is important for you to protect your child's future by doing everything you can to help them through this turbulent time.

Whether your teen is facing charges due to drug possession, drug paraphernalia, selling drugs or some other drug-related case, you may have a variety of options on the table. It can seem daunting to deal with drug charges, especially when your child's future is at stake. That said, there may be a number of ways you can improve their chances of securing a more favorable end result in the courtroom. For example, you could be able to lessen the impact of the charges (or even help them avoid penalties altogether) by uncovering and bringing up certain details surrounding the allegations.

Can officers search for drugs during a traffic stop?

If law enforcement officers pull you over for an alleged traffic violation in South Carolina, you should know your rights if they then want to search your car for drugs or anything else.

As reported in the Washington Post, officers do not have the automatic right to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. Instead, they can only legally do the following:

  • Ask you for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, which you must give them
  • Investigate whatever alleged traffic violation they stopped you for
  • Check with their dispatcher to find out if you have any outstanding arrest warrants and arrest you if you do
  • Write the traffic ticket(s) for whatever alleged violation(s) they believe you committed

Defining white collar cime

Were one to ask people in Mount Plesant to define "white collar crime," the responses would likely be reflections of the sophisticated hijinks they see portrayed in movies or on TV. This comes from the various interpretations of the term. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the term was first used in 1939 by sociologist Edwin H. Sutherland. He described it as "a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation." From this definition comes two assumptions: that all white collar criminals greedy, already well-off vagabonds, and that their criminal activities are only directed at large businesses and organizations. 

Some might say that law enforcement agencies perpetuate this idea. Indeed, were one to go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's webpage defining white collar crime, the first example given is corporate fraud. Yet this likely has less to do with supporting an establishment opinion than the fact that such fraud typically produces massive financial losses that can impact a large number of victims. For this reason, the FBI indeed defines investigating corporate fraud as one of its top priorities. 

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Stirling & O'Connell Law Office

884 Johnnie Dodds Blvd
Suite 201
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Phone: 843-779-9443
Fax: 843-577-9826
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