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Holland & Usry, P.A.

Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer

When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.

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  • Can my criminal domestic violence case go to Pre-Trial Intervention?

    Maybe, if the circumstances are exactly right.

    Let’s start off by examining whether you would want Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), because that’s the easy part. The answer is YES. PTI is no picnic, but it’s better than the possibility of jail time and hefty fines that could result from a Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) conviction. And here’s the best part- completing PTI gets your case dismissed and the charges removed from your criminal record.

    Unfortunately, you don’t get to decide to take PTI instead of a criminal conviction. You can request PTI, but the decision to give you a break is out of your hands.

    You Get PTI Only If a Lot of Cards Fall Your Way—But Your Attorney Can Shift The Odds in Your Favor

    Let’s say you’ve been charged with CDV, third degree. More serious levels of Criminal Domestic Violence don’t allow for Pre-Trial Intervention.

    Next, you would have to convince the State and the victim to allow it. You cannot demand PTI; rather, the State and the victim must agree.

    If you’ve been charged with third-degree Criminal Domestic Violence, PTI can be a pearl of great price, especially since it can erase the stain of a conviction and prevent the anxiety of the charge hanging over your head while the case winds its way through the courts. These cases often feature emotional victims and prosecutors who feel public pressure to obtain convictions. You’ll need an experienced lawyer who can defend your case to win it and skillfully negotiate your ability to apply for the program.

    If you hope for your CDV to end with it being wiped off your criminal record, call us at (864) 582-0416 or (888) 230-1841 to discuss building a two-part defense to win in the courtroom and at the conference room negotiating table. Let us give you the best shot at Pre-Trial Intervention.

     

  • I got charged with criminal domestic violence—but I never touched anyone! Is that legal?

    Unfortunately, yes. But just because you got charged sure doesn’t mean you can be proven guilty. To win your case, you’ll need a sharp defense attorney who knows how to calm aggressive prosecutors and soothe jury desires to “right this wrong” by convicting you…because, let’s face it, emotions almost always run high in these cases.

    The Law Determines the Charges (and the Law Isn’t Always What You Think)

    The reason you got charged is due to the definition of Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV). You commit CDV when you…

    • Hurt a household member, defined as a current or former spouse, a person you have a child with, or a member of the opposite sex you live with or used to live with.
    • Threaten or attempt to hurt a household member (with the apparent present ability to carry out the threat) and thereby create a reasonable fear of imminent peril.

    So your charge comes under the last part. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you basically scared the complainant into believing he or she was about to get hurt. But that fright must be for a good reason—the State has to prove it legitimately looked as if you could carry out any threat you made. That’s why charging at your wife with a steak knife, hollering, “I’m gonna stab you right now!” is CDV. Telling her the same thing over the phone on a long-distance call doesn’t count as Criminal Domestic Violence, because your wife has no reason to expect you could stab her right now.

    But threatening your wife is never a good idea.

    While your case is weaker than one with a bruised victim in a torn-up home, it doesn’t mean you can’t be convicted. The penalties for a conviction can include heavy fines, jail time, and even loss of gun ownership. You’ve got a defensible case, but it needs to be presented the right way to be won. If you’d like more information how you can build a strong defense, please to email us right where you’re sitting to schedule a free meeting to discuss your rights and defenses.

  • I got arrested for DUI and blew .06. The officer refuses to dismiss it even though I blew under the legal limit. Can he do that?

    Surprisingly, yes. This is another reason why there really is no such thing as a “legal limit” for DUI breath tests. That’s right, you can still get stuck with a DUI if you blow under the so-called legal limit of .08.

    Here’s why: the South Carolina DUI law allows you to be convicted at levels as low as .06. The reason folks call .08 the “legal limit” is because the DUI law allows the jury to conclude you were impaired at that level. They don’t have to, of course—we’ve had clients get acquitted at twice that level.

    If you blew .06 or .07, the law allows the jury to consider your breath test along with other evidence in reaching a verdict.

    A .05 or less results in automatic dismissal, unless the officer whips out another weapon in his accusation arsenal: the claim you must have been using drugs. That’s right: the cop can tell the jury that his years of law-enforcement experience led him to conclude you were intoxicated based on your behavior, independent of any breath test.

    For any low reading, the officer’s insistence on your guilt can throw a monkey wrench into your case: a request for a urine or blood test based on his (often newfound) accusation you had to be on drugs, too, since your breath test wasn’t high enough.

    If you’ve got an officer insisting on convicting you despite a low reading, it’s time to hire a professional to take him on. The truth is, these “low blow” cases aren’t a slam dunk for either side—but there is so much at stake for you if you lose, you need an experienced DUI trial lawyer to convince the officer to reduce your charges or win your case at trial.

    Because these cases move fast, your time is running short. Feel free to start a live chat with us to schedule an appointment for a free meeting about what we can help you do to avoid the lowest blow of all—a DUI conviction that can damage your reputation, cost you thousands, and burden you with ignition interlock.

  • I Committed a Crime and Have No Defense. Can I Get Probation Without an Lawyer?

    The worst part of sentencing is the awful silence where the only sound is the judge scratching out your sentence with his pen on your sentencing sheet. The vast majority of the time, you don’t know whether you’re getting probation until the judge announces your sentence. The lone exception is a special, rare type of guilty plea where the sentence is negotiated.

    But you can be confident you’re getting probation with an ordinary guilty plea—assuming you’re eligible—if you have an experienced lawyer who knows how to prove you probation-worthy. In many cases, we convince the solicitor to recommend probation to the judge, which often seals the deal.

    These are some basic factors for probation eligibility in South Carolina:

    The Severity of the Crime

    Some crimes are deemed so serious by the legislature that the law prohibits probation. This includes child molestation, some drug charges, and repeat DUI offenses. In non-probation offenses, it’s vital to get a sharp lawyer who can win your case, and if he can’t, can help you secure a guilty plea to a reduced charge giving you a shot at probation.

    The Specifics of Your Case

    Legally, probation is considered a matter of grace granted to a deserving accused. You have to prove you are deserving. Whether you can get probation in any case depends on many factors that boil down to the facts and circumstances of your case and the facts and circumstances of you. Hopefully you can hire a lawyer who knows how to establish you are worth probation. Some important things probation depends on include:

    • Solicitor and victim agreement. If they are on board, that may be all you need. Don’t expect them to just give in to your pleas for mercy, though.
    • Your prior record. Every time you complete probation but don’t change your life, your chance of getting it diminishes…especially if you are in court on the same or similar charge.
    • The nature of the crime. Whether the crime was violent or not, an isolated incident or a crime spree can influence the amount of punishment the judge thinks you need.
    • What you’ve done since. Proof you’ve worked hard, that you support your family, that you’re active in the community, and that you have shown remorse can convince a judge you can be rehabilitated without prison.
    • What you’ve done before. The same factors above apply, plus a solid employment record and proof you’ve worked to achieve an education or other accomplishments can show a judge you’re a solid citizen who can complete probation.
    • Character evidence. Evidence demonstrating your good character shows the judge that the crime is not typical of the person you are, so it won’t happen again.
    • Family support. It gives a judge some security knowing you’re backed by a solid family to keep you straight.

    Don’t Go It Alone

    Getting probation is often hard. Victims may be angry, the solicitor may be aggressive, and it can take a lot of information from various sources to convince the powers that be that you should get probation. Because your freedom is on the line, it’s time to get someone who is a professional at protecting it. If you’re worried about getting probation and all the hard, complex work it might entail to get it, call us today for a free meeting to discuss what we can do to help you pave the way to probation.

     

  • I got hurt so bad in an accident, my doctor says I’ll need treatment the rest of my life. Can I get money for medical bills I’ll get in the future?

    Yes, if you present them the right way. The law gives you the right to future medical care if you can prove it is reasonably certain to be needed. Note: future medical care in workers’ compensation (work injury) cases is covered elsewhere on this website.

    To get money for future medical care, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to:

    • Analyze the medical records for evidence of your future needs,
    • Meet with your doctors to develop a treatment plan for your future care,
    • Then obtain a cost estimate for your future treatment.

    For grievous injuries requiring extensive lifelong care, your lawyer may even retain an expert called a life care planner. Life care planners often have a nursing background. Their job is to develop a thorough, convincing plan proving your needs and the cost into the future.

    The amount of your future medical care must be reduced to present value. That means a discount from the total lifetime costs, because a personal injury settlement or verdict gives you all the money now—instead of paying charges as they come in—and that money can increase in value if invested conservatively. As they say, “A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.”

    We Make Sure Your Future Health is the First Priority

    If you’ve got an injury requiring future care, chances are you’ll need help to convince the insurance company it needs to pay for that care. That’s what accident attorneys are for, along with removing your additional strain of dealing with unreasonable, demanding adjusters and the worry you’ll mess up your claim. Rest assured we do this for a living, and we’ll protect your rights and deal with the insurance company so you can reclaim your life or adapt to a new way of living as best you can.

    Feel free to email us from right where you are. You can arrange a free, confidential meeting, where we can talk about how to protect your rights to getting future care paid and how to maximize your compensation for everything you’ve been unjustifiably put through.

     

  • I got charged with DUI and blew a .16. The officer told me that’s twice the legal limit. Is there any hope I can win my case?

     

    Yes, for three main reasons.

     

    • There is no “legal limit” in South Carolina. What the law actually says is that if you blow .08 or more in a DUI case, the jury may use that evidence to find you guilty. Here’s what’s important: they don’t have to. If we truly had a legal limit, the jury would have no choice. In fact, there would be no need for one. You’d be convicted right after the test. But that’s just not how it works.
    • The breath result is only one piece of evidence. A jury considers whether all the evidence proves you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—a really high standard. The rest may point to an acquittal.
    • The machine doesn’t test for the ultimate fact DUI cases are about: impairment. Cases can be won at trial with your reading because the evidence didn’t support impairment beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced DUI defense lawyer knows how to point out how your conduct and driving does not support a conviction—and find defenses you don’t know about, as shown in our free report on these cases.

    A DUI Charge Does Not Mean Conviction

    Even if you got charged with DUAC, your case is not open and shut. The jury can find you guilty based on the reading, but you get to present evidence contesting what (if anything) that reading means.

    If you’ve been charged with DUI or DUAC and are already asking these questions, you’re headed in the right direction. If you truly felt this was a battle not worth fighting, you wouldn’t be reading this. Download or request our free report on DUI/DUAC cases revealing defenses you might not even know about. Call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to talk about how we might help you win your case.

     

  • I have a pending divorce. I hear a lot about people hiring private investigators. Is this something I should consider?

    Maybe. Each case in the family court is different with different circumstances. There are many times when hiring a private investigator can have a significant impact on the outcome.

    However, a private investigator can be expensive. Sometimes a private investigator can capture some bad behavior by the other party. But if that bad behavior doesn’t help your case, what is the point? You have just spent money without strengthening your case.

    Two Areas Where an Investigator May Be Useful

    Let’s look at two areas where some of our clients have gained an advantage in the past by hiring investigators:

    Custody Cases

    A private investigator can prove one parent is living a party lifestyle, such as coming and going at all hours of the night, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. This kind of behavior could certainly have an impact on a custody case. Or you may suspect that the other parent is exposing your children to a person who should not be around them. A private investigator may be able to prove how often your kids are in the company of this bad influence. All of these things could have an impact on a custody case.

    Adultery

    Adultery is one of the fault grounds South Carolina allows by which a person can get a divorce. Being able to achieve a fault ground divorce may allow you to get through the process faster. Fault ground divorces can be obtained after 90 days, while no-fault divorces take much longer. However, in practice we find that fault-based divorces often take longer than 90 days, because the spouses need a longer period to resolve the issues between them.

    One of the primary reasons people hire private investigators to look for evidence of adultery, is that adultery almost always bars the adulterer from receiving alimony. If you have alimony exposure, it is well worth it to prove adultery. Paying a private investigator several thousand dollars could save you tens—if not hundreds of thousands—of dollars over a lifetime.

    While these are some of the most common reasons people hire private investigators, there are others, such as for uncovering financial evidence. Perhaps you believe your spouse is wasting marital money at a casino. Maybe your spouse claims he can’t work, so he can’t pay as much support as you need; a private investigator may reveal that not only can he work, he is working and simply not reporting the income.

    For many reasons a private investigator may be helpful. But just as you exercise great care when you choose your lawyer, so too it’s important to be selective in hiring a private investigator. You should not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. You don’t want to try to save a thousand dollars by hiring a cut-rate private investigator, only to later find he can’t get the job done, and you’re left to pay alimony.

    If you are going through a divorce and need to discuss it with an attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for your confidential consultation.

     

  • My father died from injuries in an accident after weeks in the hospital. Can anyone be held accountable for his suffering before he died?

    Yes, if someone can be proven legally liable for causing the accident leading to his death. South Carolina law allows a victim’s estate to recover for his conscious pain and suffering in a claim called a “survival action.”

    A victim need not be fully awake and alert to communicate conscious pain and suffering. But to prove the claim fully, you’ll need a sharp, experienced, and hardworking lawyer who knows how to probe medical records for clinical evidence of suffering, as well as interview witnesses who can attest to it, then present the evidence in a meaningful way to convince the insurance company or a jury to properly compensate the estate.

    As a family member, you also have rights to recover in a claim usually brought at the same time as a survival action, called a wrongful death case

    If you’re picking up the pieces from a loved one’s accidental death you think someone else is responsible for, give the burden of this claim to a professional who can ease your strain, keep you from the frustration of fighting an insurance company, and give you peace of mind your loved one’s case will be done right. Contact us to see how we can carry this burden for you. Remember, it’s your only chance to make this right.

     

  • I’m guilty of the crime they’re accusing me of, so why should I go to the trouble and expense of getting a lawyer?

    Because it’s wise.

    Folks charged with serious crimes need a defense lawyer who prepares to win their case no matter what, and who isn’t afraid of trial. Remember: to convict, the State has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury, who all agree. Who knows? You might have a defense available that you never considered, and an experienced lawyer can use that to your advantage.

    Seasoned criminal defense lawyers know how to help guilty people avoid a conviction by convincing prosecutors they're eligible for alternative programs like pretrial intervention or conditional discharges.

    As for what good a lawyer can do it you’re pleading guilty, you can be confident it’s the right thing to do because your lawyer—whom you trust—has left no stone unturned trying to find a winning defense. You can actually feel good about pleading guilty, knowing it’s the best possible outcome that could have been reached in this case.

    And remember in most serious criminal cases, the State has a lawyer. Pleading guilty without a lawyer is like a Super Bowl team deciding to leave its quarterback at home.

    A talented criminal defense lawyer realizes pleading guilty is not for quitters. These are some things he can do to help you:

    • He can be your buffer against the fearsome power of the government. This is your life. Be honest about two vital things: you’re emotionally involved in this case and probably have no idea what you’re doing. Confronting the State’s lawyer alone is like performing surgery on yourself, alone, in the dark, without a flashlight. Give it to a professional to get it done right.
    • He can minimize consequences. He can negotiate reduced charges that could save years off your sentence—and maybe keep you from going to prison at all, by obtaining a sentence of probation.
    • He can help you understand other consequences of a conviction, so you’re not shocked later. Many people plead guilty not knowing there are punishments beyond prison, probation, or fines. Some of the saddest cases we’ve seen are folks who just pay the fine for a driving under suspension, then come to us wide-eyed saying they had no idea their license would get suspended for even longer.
    • He can steer you to community resources to address the root cause of your crime. The justice system wants to see an accused person overcome his behavior problems by attending drug rehab, anger counseling, or similar programs. An experienced lawyer can help you find these resources to prove you’ve learned from your mistake and are determined to never let it happen again.
    • He can make a full presentation to the judge at your plea hearing to convince her to keep you out of prison. Many factors can be presented by a skilled advocate to show you’re not a hardened criminal deserving of harsh punishment. A talented defense lawyer can help you develop a defense against prison if he can’t develop a defense to win your trial.

    At Holland & Usry, we admit pride and ego push us to win…but we never forget what’s really on the line: your freedom and future. Sometimes the best way to preserve both is to take a deal. And the decision is always yours. A good lawyer helps you make the right one. If your freedom and future are in jeopardy, email us from right here to see how we can safeguard you.

     

  • I got hurt so bad at work my doctor decided I’ll never work again. Will my workers’ compensation benefits affect my Social Security disability benefits?

    Almost certainly, if you don’t protect yourself. You need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help protect your rights.

    If you get workers’ compensation benefits, your monthly Social Security check will be reduced if the combined amount of your workers’ compensation check and your Social Security check is more than 80 percent of your pre-disability earnings.

    Know this: settling your workers’ compensation case for a lump sum—a single check for all your financial benefits—won’t help you. In fact, lump sum settlements usually cause the reduction.

    But there’s hope. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will know how to get the best of both worlds for you by securing your rights to a lump-sum workers’ compensation settlement and avoiding the reduction of your Social Security check. To do that, we put a clause in the workers’ compensation agreement that sets the value of the settlement as equivalent to your getting a weekly check for the rest of your expected lifespan under South Carolina law. You still get the cash settlement. The agreement just values it like you get a weekly check.

    Is this artificial? Yes. Wrong? No. The South Carolina Supreme Court states these agreements further the workers’ compensation law’s “humane objectives.”

    To keep from losing benefits you need, you’ve got to get it right the first time, and the clause must be worded very specifically. If you’re facing this issue, call us to help preserve your rights to your maximum workers’ compensation and Social Security benefits. Feel free to send us an email or live chat right where you’re sitting. Remember: it’s bad enough you can’t work. Don’t worsen it by shortchanging yourself and your family of benefits you need to survive.

     

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