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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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  • I have been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. I know I hurt the guy pretty badly, but he was coming at me with a knife. Do I have a defense?

    Yes. You have the defense of self-defense. Self-defense is the force one uses to protect himself or others. The force must be reasonable in consideration of the threat of harm.

    In South Carolina, if there is evidence to support self-defense, it is your right to assert it. According to South Carolina law, if the defendant and his criminal defense attorney argue self defense the state must disprove at least one of the following:

    • The defendant is without fault in bringing on the difficulty.
    • The defendant believed he was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering serious injury, or actually was in imminent danger.
    • If based on belief of imminent danger, a reasonable person would have entertained the same belief.
    • If based on actual imminent danger, under similar circumstances a person of ordinary prudence, firmness, and courage would be justified in acting as the defendant did to save himself.
    • The defendant had no other probable means of avoiding the danger.

    If the self-defense claim is successful, then the actions the defendant took in order to avoid his being harmed will be considered legal use of force. A winning self-defense claim can result in a not guilty verdict when a person is charged with the various degrees of assault and battery, attempted murder, or murder.

    If you have been charged with one of these offenses, it is important for you to talk to a lawyer. You cannot reasonably expect to handle your own criminal case to a satisfactory conclusion. If you would like to discuss a criminal matter with one of the attorneys of Holland & Usry, please use the instant chat feature on this page or call us as soon as possible at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.

     

  • The way some truckers drive, it seems like anybody can be one. Are there any minimum requirements to be a trucker?

    Yes. Federal regulations set the minimum general requirements to be a trucker. Under those regulations, you are qualified to be one if you meet all of these rules:

    • You are at least 21 years old.
    • You can read and speak English well enough to talk with the general public, understand traffic signs and signals, and create reports and records.
    • You can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
    • You have been found physically qualified by a certified medical examiner as required by the regulations.
    • You have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by a single state (this makes it easier to track safety violations).
    • You gave your trucking company employer a report containing all your traffic law violations for the last 12 months.
    • You are not disqualified to drive due to license suspension or certain criminal offenses, including alcohol and drug related charges.
    • You passed a road test or proved to your employer’s satisfaction you had either a CDL or passed a prior road test in the last three years.

    These Regulations Are Not As Rigorous As They Sound—And Sometimes Ignored

    This list of rules may seem like it provides a lot of assurance that truckers will be safe on the road. Sadly, all too often long hours and the overwhelming need to meet a deadline can overcome a trucker’s wealth of safety training and cause him to forget his enormous responsibility to keep everyone safe while driving his powerful machine. Worse, there are dishonest truckers who drive when they don't meet the qualifications, and there are irresponsible trucking companies who know it, or should know it, but let them do it anyway.

    If you have been hurt—or, worse, if you have lost a loved one—in one of these 18-wheeler accidents in Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, or beyond, then you’ve probably spent restless nights wondering whether a trucker should be behind the wheel. We want to remind you that you have rights. A skilled trucking lawyer may be able to use these federal safety regulations to help make compelling case to maximize your compensation. Getting a full and fair settlement or trial award may be the best measure of justice you can achieve, since the trucker will most likely get a traffic ticket for a few hundred bucks at worst.

    But obtaining compensation in these cases is not easy. Trucking cases are not your typical car crash—they can be far more complex due to extensive safety regulations that can impact your case, the severity of your injuries, and many times, an insurance company that fights you tooth and nail. For more information, check out our free report on South Carolina traffic accident cases, which includes a chapter on 18-wheeler crashes.

    Please contact us when you’re ready to discuss your rights and learn how we can build a strong case for you. You can call us locally at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841, or start a live chat or email right from this site.

     

  • What is ignition interlock for South Carolina DUIs?

    Effective October 1, 2014, South Carolina law changed to make ignition interlock a factor in every DUI case. The change impacts arrests made October 1 or after. For arrests before October 1, only repeat offenders have to worry about ignition interlock.

    Ignition Interlock Basics

    Here are the basics of ignition interlock, if you have to get it:

    • How it works. Ignition interlock is a device installed in the ignition system of your car that gives you a breath alcohol test before your car will start. Compared to the breath test machine officers try to get you to blow into at arrest, it’s relatively small. But if you have someone with you, there’s no way to hide that you’re blowing into it. If the device detects even a small amount of alcohol, your car won’t start.
    • Getting a device. Ignition interlock devices must be approved by the State. The agency responsible for monitoring ignition interlock is the agency best known for its watchful eye: the probation department. The Probation Department has information online about currently approved interlock devices. To be approved, the device must take your picture when you give the test, so the State can more easily detect violators who get someone else to blow for them.
    • Cost and maintenance. Ignition interlock installation is expensive and burdensome. You pay a monthly fee for the system. Device manufacturers generally do not publish the costs. Devices must be inspected regularly, forcing you to take the time to take your car for inspection. Failure to get timely inspections could mean your car won’t start.
    • Penalties for violations. Attempting to start the car with a blood alcohol concentration as low as .02% causes an increasing scale of violation points against you. The more points you get, the more penalties you get. Penalties range from lengthening your interlock requirement, to requiring an alcohol drug safety action program assessment that could lead to you to completing a costly, time-consuming treatment program, up to license suspension.
    • It is a crime to avoid the device. If you’re required to use an interlock, driving without one is a criminal offense punishable by up to a year in prison plus an extension of interlock for an additional six months. And that’s for a first offense. There are only a few limited exceptions. Trying to sidestep interlock requirements in other ways is also a crime, including having someone else blow in the device or even asking him to.

    Ignition interlock is an extremely tough new penalty for DUI offenders. Often the best hope in avoiding it is by presenting the best defenses to fight off an initial license suspension and conviction. Unfortunately, DUI cases tend to be very complex legally. Worse, if you’re not experienced defending these cases, it can be a daunting task to convince a jury that a police officer was mistaken, since the jury’s full of drivers who want to protect themselves from drunk drivers.

    If you’re facing a potential sentence involving ignition interlock in Spartanburg or Greenville or nearby, feel free to schedule a free meeting to discuss how we might give you the best shot at avoiding ignition interlock. You can call us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 888-230-1841, or use our live chat feature right from where you are.

    For other questions, check out our free report on these cases, right on this page.

  • I was just served with family court paperwork. It looks like my husband is trying to get a divorce. It says there is a motion hearing in three weeks. What is a motion hearing?

    In the family court, a motion hearing, also called a temporary relief hearing, is a hearing before a judge where one or both parties seek relief. The term “relief” has a special legal meaning here: it means that one side or the other is asking the court to issue orders about how to conduct certain family functions for the immediate future.

    These hearings are usually short, often only 15 minutes, and the relief issued is temporary in nature.

    The court at a temporary hearing can address various questions, such as:

    • Which spouse/parent is to have custody of the children?
    • What sort of schedule for visitation with the minor children should be in place while the action is pending?
    • What will be each parent’s child support obligation?
    • Should one of the partners be obligated to pay spousal support to the other? If so, how much?
    • Who gets to control and use of marital property, such as houses and cars?

    It’s important enough that we should stress this again: any decisions reached from the motion hearing will be temporary. The arrangements can change (and probably will change) in the final decision made by the court.

    The idea is that before the court can make a final determination on such things as custody, visitation, support, and equitable division, among other things, there should be a merits hearing, where both folks can submit all the relevant and admissible evidence they reasonably choose, offer witnesses, and cross-examine the witnesses of the other party. These merit hearings or trials can last days. Before a lengthy trial can be scheduled, there is much work to be done, including the exchange of information and mandatory mediation.

    But some relief cannot wait ten months for a trial, such as spousal or child support if one spouse leaves the home and is not voluntarily assisting. So that’s why you and your attorney will request such a hearing.

    If you are faced with a matter in the family court and need to discuss with a family court lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. toll-free at 888.230.1841 or locally at 864.582.0416 to set up a consultation.

     

  • When I appear at my temporary hearing with my lawyer, will I have to speak?

    Probably not. Motion hearings are for temporary relief. The law limits the sort of evidence that may be received by the court to pleadings, affidavits, and financial declarations. The rule does state for good cause shown, the court may rely on other evidence of testimony; however, this is very unusual, and rarely occurs.

    If you have carefully chosen a skilled and experienced family law attorney to represent you, he will be familiar with the procedures and requirements for the motion hearing. You should not have to worry about presenting evidence or speaking before the court.

    Your lawyer will argue your position by presenting the facts sworn to in the affidavits and financial declarations that are submitted to the court. The arguments are brief, usually no more than a matter of minutes. The judge usually does not ask questions directly to the spouses. If the judge has questions, he or she will usually ask the lawyer.

    If you are faced with a matter in the family court and need to discuss it with a family court attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. toll-free at 888.230.1841 or by local call at 864.582.0416 to set up a consultation.

     

  • I just got arrested for DUI. What are my chances of beating the charge?

    DUI cases can be more winnable than most people think. But you can’t fully evaluate your case or properly develop defenses without the single most important piece of evidence: the video from your arrest and breath test—even if you refused the test.

    Unlike human witnesses, video cameras don’t conveniently forget facts or twist them in their favor. Cameras just record the truth. That’s why South Carolina law requires these videos during a DUI/DUAC arrest, almost without exception. Our state Supreme Court has observed the purpose of DUI videos is to prevent DUI trials from being “swearing contests.” You probably had a few of those as a child, where a dispute over pulled hair or spilled milk boiled down to “did too!” and “did not!” Because the penalties for DUI can be severe, the legislature wisely passed a law to protect you, officers, and juries from deciding cases based on who yelled best, last, or loudest.

    Video Evidence Can Be Vital to You DUI/DUAC Defense

    In our experience, videos are usually helpful to you, the one charged with the crime. The videos contain evidence vital to your defense, including:

    • Video law violations. The South Carolina video law requires officers to record specific aspects of their investigation and the breath test. An officer’s violation of the law can lead to dismissal, even if the evidence against you is overwhelming.
    • Your driving. That’s what the case is really about, right? We’ve seen videos where our client’s driving was so flawless, we wondered how he ever got pulled over at all. If a jury feels that way, you’re off to a good start in winning your trial.
    • How the officer did on field sobriety tests. That’s right, we said how the officer did. For a field sobriety test to be valid, officers must properly give you very specific instructions. You can’t be expected to pass a test when the instructions are wrong, can you?
    • Your conduct. Often the best way to tell when someone’s under the influence is how he or she acts. How you walked, talked, and responded to the officer’s everyday instructions can reveal a lot about how you weren’t under the influence. By the way, that does not include field sobriety tests—no one does anything like that, ever, except maybe tightrope walkers or the Karate Kid.

    In any case, the best shot you’ll ever have is with a trained professional. A skilled DUI defense attorney will know to demonstrate video law violations to convince a judge to dismiss the case, and to highlight how the evidence reveals your innocence for a jury to acquit you. You need an experienced lawyer who regularly handles DUI cases, since the law and the defenses can be highly technical and complex.

    If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Greenville, Spartanburg, or any nearby community, we’ll meet with you for free to give you a preliminary idea how we can help you and discuss in more detail how we can defend your case. If you have any other questions about DUI cases, check out other articles we have on this site or download our free report. Feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841, or email us or start a live chat right from where you are.

     

  • My husband died in a car crash driving a delivery truck for work. The crash wasn’t his fault. Can I get work benefits to help pay our bills?

    Yes. You qualify for South Carolina worker’s compensation death benefits. And the good news is, you qualify for the maximum benefit:

    Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits

    Limited burial expenses, up to $2500.

    Limited lost income benefits. The maximum benefit is a weekly check for two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage (called the “comp rate”), for a maximum of 500 weeks. This amount can sometimes be paid in a single check, but the amount will be reduced to present value (that is, discounted for expected inflation and other costs over the period covered). The base amount will be reduced by any workers’ compensation temporary disability checks that had been paid to the worker, if he did not pass away immediately.

    Your husband’s children and others who depended on your husband for support qualify to receive benefits, too. Whether they qualify for the maximum benefit depends on several factors. We explain the complicated calculations involved in a separate article on this website.

    Important: Because your husband passed away from a car crash that’s not his fault, you have access to compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, and maybe your own. While this compensation can be desperately needed, getting it the right way can be very tricky due to complex worker’s compensation laws. Talk to your workers’ compensation attorney for help understanding the details in your specific case.

    The emotional devastation of an unexpected work accident taking the life of a loved one is often worsened by plunging your family into financial crisis. You have rights and access to some relief, thanks to worker’s compensation and maybe the civil justice system. As hard as it is to keep going, fight for your family.

    If you’ve been forced into this battle in Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, or Cherokee counties, or anywhere else in South Carolina, contact our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers to explore every option to obtain every benefit you can. Feel free to use the easiest way for you to reach us—by email, by live chat from our site, or by a toll-free call to 888.230.1841 or local call at 864.582.0416. We’re waiting to hear from you.

     

  • I was just charged with driving while under suspension, first offense. I did not even know my license was suspended. The fine does not seem to be much. Should I just plead guilty and move on?

    Under almost all circumstances I advise against simply pleading guilty or paying the fine on a driving while under suspension (DUS) first offense charge. At the very least, if you have been charged with this crime you should speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to learn what actions would be in your best interest.

    The law in South Carolina says that a person who drives a motor vehicle on any public road of this state while his license to drive is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of driving under suspension. For a first offense the person is to be fined $300 (and court costs which more than doubles the fine), or jail for up to 30 days, or both. However, if the driver’s license had been suspended for a DUI conviction, then the penalties become $300 plus costs, or a period of 10 to 30 days in jail.

    While there are exceptions, it’s typical that a person convicted of DUS first offense can avoid any jail time if he has the ability to pay the fine and court costs.

    The Second Line of Penalties: Extended License Suspension

    I cannot count how many times I have heard—after the fact—a variation of the following, “The officer told me if I plead guilty he would recommend the minimum fine and no jail time. I just thought it would be easier to get it over with because it would be cheaper than hiring a lawyer.”

    But is it really cheaper? Maybe not. In addition to the criminal penalties, there are also civil penalties, including a longer suspension of your driver’s license. The period of time for which a person’s driver’s license is suspended upon conviction depends on the original reason for his license suspension. Consider these examples:

    • If your license had been suspended for failure to pay a no seat belt fine, and if simply paying the seat belt fine and the reinstatement fee at the DMV would have allowed you to get your license back in the first place, the additional suspension is for only 30 days.
    • If your suspension was for some specific period, the extended license suspension upon conviction of DUS will be for a similar time period. For instance, if your license was suspended for six months due to a DUI first conviction, then you would incur an additional six months’ license suspension if convicted of DUS first offense.
    • In cases where there is not a defined period of suspension, the suspension may be extended for an additional three months.

    After you have fulfilled the criminal penalties and after your license suspension period, you may think everything is reset to normal. It isn’t. In almost all situations, before you can get your license back you are required to get SR-22 insurance. Folks sometimes call this drunk driving insurance. It is more expensive insurance for “risky drivers,” and it costs more money than a regular liability policy. You will have to carry this insurance for three  years, and the costs can be in the thousands of dollars. Also, you will have to pay reinstatement fees to the DMV before you are given your license back.

    You Can Fight DUS Charges in South Carolina

    Remember, just because you have been charged with DUS first offense does not mean that you will necessarily be convicted. You are entitled to a trial by judge or jury. Before you can be convicted, the state (usually the arresting officer) must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    One requirement is that the state must offer as proof a certified copy of your driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles. An additional requirement is that the prosecuting officer must demonstrate that you actually received notice from the DMV that your license was in fact suspended.

    It is important to treat a DUS first offense seriously, because the penalties you potentially face are so severe. If you are like most folks, you depend on a car to get you from point A to point B. Without a car, it is difficult to participate in other functions of life, such as employment, education, getting children to and from school, obtaining groceries, and many other daily activities.

    All too often, someone whose license is suspended because of a DUS conviction makes the decision to drive anyway, leading to another arrest. Each repeat arrest is treated more harshly, and it starts a downward spiral that can result in felony charges and convictions, along with an indefinite or permanent revocation of your right to driver in South Carolina—or any other state.

    If you have been charged with driving under suspension first offense, or any other driving-related charge, and would like to discuss it with the criminal defense lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A., please do not hesitate to contact our office at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841. You may have certain defenses, and true cost of a DUS conviction is much more than a fine.

     

  • I got hurt badly by a hit and run driver in Duncan. What if the police never find him, or what if they do but he has no insurance? How will I ever pay all these medical bills?

    There’s hope for you. You can still get help from your own policy. Every driver in South Carolina must carry uninsured motorist coverage, also called UM, which pays if the at-fault driver cannot be caught, or has no liability insurance to cover your injuries.

    There are two important things you should know about UM:

    • The amount you can access is limited to the amount of your liability coverage. This is yet another reason you should get as high a liability limit as possible. The other important reason is you can only get as much underinsurance coverage (UIM) as your liability limits; see why we feel it’s the most important coverage you can buy.
    • The shocking truth about UM: Victims are often stunned to discover when you make a UM claim, your own insurance company fights against you.

    Also, UM can sometimes be stacked, similar to UIM. You may be able to collect more than the coverage on one vehicle if your household owns several vehicles. 

    The law of UM coverage and stacking can be very complex. If you’re hurt bad enough to need it, you should have an experienced car accident lawyer review your policy to make sure you don’t overlook any coverage—and to see if he can help enhance your claim to keep you from being shortchanged by your own insurance company.

    If you have any questions about UM for a serious car wreck in Duncan or anywhere in South Carolina, check out our other articles on this site and feel free to request our free report on South Carolina car crash cases. You can call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting, or start a live chat or email from right where you’re sitting. If you’re hurt too bad to come to us, we’ll come to you.

     

  • My wife and I had an intense argument yesterday morning, and today I was served with a petition for an Order of Protection. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. What is an Order of Protection?

    An order of protection is an order issued by the family court to protect an abused person by stopping the abuser from the ability to abuse, threaten to abuse, or molest the victim. The order forbids the abuser from communicating or attempting to communicate with the victim in any way, including preventing the abuser from entering the victim’s places of residence, employment, education, or other location as the court may determine.

    It has some teeth to it because a violation of this order is a criminal offense punishable by 30 days in jail or a fine of $200. Additionally, it may constitute contempt of court punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,500. If a police officer determines that a person has violated an order of protection, he may arrest the accused without obtaining an arrest warrant.

    A hearing for the order of protection is heard in the family court by a family court judge. If a petition is filed seeking an order of protection, the hearing can be heard within twenty-four hours. The person seeking the order of protection must show that the accused person committed some sort of abuse: physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the threat of physical harm.

    An order of protection is only available when the victim and the abuser are mutual household members, such as spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common, or a man and woman who are cohabitating or have formerly lived together. The victim can be a minor child.

    If an order of protection is granted, the person accused of abuse can be prohibited from any contact with the petitioner for a term from 6 months to a year. The court may also order temporary custody and visitation for any children; temporary financial support for both petitioner and the children; and temporary possession of a residence and personal property.

    Domestic violence and abuse is serious, and is treated seriously by our courts. A judge determines after trial whether to issue an order of protection. During the trial, both parties have the right to offer witnesses and cross-examine the witnesses of the other. The rules of evidence apply. It is not to be taken lightly.

    The family law attorneys at Holland & Usry, P.A., have handled many order of protection hearings over the years. We have both defended the accused and prosecuted on behalf of the abused. If you are facing an order of protection (or if you believe your safety requires an order be placed against someone) and would like to discuss it with one of our lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 to set up a consultation.

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