Go to navigation Go to content
Toll-Free: 888-230-1841
Phone: 864-582-0416
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.

  • Page 8
  • I got charged with DUI in Greer for blowing .09. The officer told me I can plead to DUAC. Isn’t pleading guilty to DUAC better than DUI?

    Probably not. "DUAC" is Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration. Pleading guilty to that is basically admitting you drove with more than the so-called "legal limit" of alcohol in your system, which is .08.

    Two Common Myths About South Carolina DUAC Laws:

    • DUAC is not a reduced charge. The penalties for DUAC are exactly the same as DUI. Some people prefer to plea to DUAC because it “looks” better, since they can tell others they didn’t get convicted of “drunk driving.”
    • DUAC does go on your criminal record, just like a DUI.

    The only way I’ve ever heard a DUAC helping someone who was charged with DUI involved a case where the accused held a very high-paying job in another state. His contract provided he could be fired for a DUI. It said nothing about DUAC, since this charge is essentially unique to South Carolina. He had a totally unwinnable DUI case. Since he could plead to DUAC without losing his job, it worked for him.

    This is not to say pleading to DUAC is always a bad idea. The first thing to do is hire an experienced DUI/DUAC attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case for every possible defense. An experienced defense lawyer can increase your chances of reduced charges, like reckless driving or a minor traffic violation. If an experienced DUI/DUAC lawyer tells you it’s in your best interest to plead guilty, at least you know you took your very best shot at avoiding a conviction and will still hopefully benefit from a thoroughly negotiated plea to a charge with the least possible consequences for you.

    Our Attorneys Are Here To Help With Your DUI/DUAC Case

    For more information on DUI cases in Spartanburg and nearby, check out our other articles on this site, including the ones below. You can also download our free report on these cases, called The Terrible Price of a DUI/DUAC Conviction and Defenses You Might Not Know About.

  • I’ve had a bad back for over 20 years. Recently, I twisted it at work in Greer and it got much worse. Does workers’ comp cover that?

    Yes. When a South Carolina work injury makes a prior injury worse, it’s still covered under workers’ compensation law.

    The involvement of a prior injury does complicate your claim. To get benefits, you’ll have to prove:

    • The work injury worsened the prior injury, or
    • The prior injury worsens the work injury.

    South Carolina law is very specific about the type of proof required to justify benefits in your situation. The law requires medical evidence showing you’re entitled to benefits despite the prior injury —meaning a doctor’s opinion or testimony to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, or medical records.

    In our example, if your bad back didn’t keep you from working or didn’t even bother you until you hurt it at work, you should be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. Importantly, if you satisfy the proof requirements, you can also be compensated for your permanent disability caused by the combination of the prior injury and your work injury. For an explanation how these benefits work, see the other articles on this site, especially those listed below.

    While the South Carolina workers’ compensation law helps workers whose prior injuries are made worse by work, it is not an easy ticket to ride. You must be very careful about submitting the proper proof to satisfy a skeptical insurance company who doesn’t want to pay you or, if the claim is contested all the way to a hearing, be sure the evidence satisfies the legal standard judged by the Commission.

    If you have a prior injury that got made worse by work, feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or 888.230.1841 to set up a free meeting to discuss whether your employer’s insurance company should help fix it and most importantly, to protect your rights to these important benefits you could lose if the claim is not presented properly. You can also send us an email or a live chat right from where you are.

     

  • I have only been married a couple of months. Am I entitled to an annulment?

    Probably not.

    An annulment is an order from the Family Court stating that a marriage is invalid, meaning the parties are to be treated as if they were never married. Our office is frequently asked if a person is entitled to an annulment, and the answer is usually no.

    The law states that only certain reasons—called grounds—will allow a marriage to be erased so thoroughly. The grounds for annulment in South Carolina are very, very limited.

    A spouse may be able to get an annulment if he or she can prove any of the following reasons applies:

    Failure to consummate by cohabitation

    If the marriage has not been consummated by the cohabitation of the parties, the Court may declare the marriage void and grant an annulment. Cohabitation is living together as husband and wife. It does not necessarily require sexual activity by the parties. Spending one night together likely makes a party ineligible for an annulment on this ground.

    Duress

    A marriage can be annulled where either party entered into the marriage without his or her consent. South Carolina law has said the duress, or being forced into marriage, must be so great that the person was unable to act as a free agent and the party being forced into marriage must have great fear of bodily harm.

    Fraud

    One may be entitled to an annulment if he or she can establish that the person to whom they are married lied about something essential to the marriage. There is only a handful of examples that courts have found to be fraudulent representations. Those cases include misrepresentation about a person’s sanity or insanity (this does not include treatment for mental illness); not being truthful about known impotency; not being truthful about known sterility; and inclination to have children when prior to the marriage it was agreed not to have any. Many examples are considered insufficient, such as misrepresentations about wealth, social standing, or a person’s character.

    Affinity and Consanguinity

    The terms affinity and consanguinity refer to close relationships as relatives. Some people are so closely related that they would be entitled to an annulment if they asserted this ground after having been married. For example, if a man were to marry a woman whom he later found out to be his sister, he or she would be entitled to an annulment. First cousins are not so close in relationship that they would be entitled to an annulment. There are other unusually close relationships that entitle a person to seek an annulment, such as a man marrying his daughter, granddaughter, mother, and so on—and a corresponding list for a woman who marries a relative just as close.

    The odds are if you are married, you are probably not entitled to an annulment; it will require a formal divorce to end your marriage. In rare cases, some grounds do allow an annulment. If you believe that you may be entitled to an annulment, please feel free to contact our family law attorneys at Holland & Usry, P.A., by calling 864-582-0416 or toll-free at 888-230-1841. Each case is different and we will be happy to talk to you about your case.

     

  • I got hurt when another driver ran a red light and hit me. Who pays?

    You might be surprised. Even though everyone is required to carry car insurance, most folks don’t know how it works until they have no choice—like when they get hurt in a Union car accident.

    In a nutshell, this is how insurance coverage can work to help you recover for a serious car wreck.

    Primary Source of Recovery

    The at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy is the primary source for paying for your losses after a traffic accident.

    Auto liability insurance is required to protect folks like you who get hurt by other drivers. You’ll soon be contacted by an adjuster, who is a representative of the liability insurance company. You need to remember no matter how nice he is, his basic job is to do one thing: to cheapen your claim any way he can. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums from policyholders, not by paying generous settlements. The insurance adjuster is going to use every trick he knows to whittle down the money you collect.

    If the at-fault driver has no insurance, you can recover from your own policy under your uninsured coverage.

    All these coverages have limits, so if your claim exceeds them, you’re probably stuck with the limits of the policy, since most at-fault drivers don’t have assets to pay a huge claim. The minimum insurance limit in South Carolina, carried by many drivers, is just $25,000, so hopefully you already have the most important insurance coverage in South Carolina, discussed below.

    Paying Medical Bills: Use Your Own Coverage If You Can

    Use your own health coverage. The at-fault driver’s policy will not pay medical bills as they come in. If you have health insurance, use it. It may help your case in the long run. Later on, you may have to pay back your health insurance company from any insurance settlement you receive (in a legal claim called “subrogation), but it is often at a discount from the actual cost of your medical bills.

    Your auto insurance policy may have a type of insurance called “personal injury protection,” (PIP) or MedPay. This automatically pays your medical bills up to its limits, usually $1,000 to $10,000. You can still use it if you have health insurance. Just remember your health insurance will probably make a subrogation claim as discussed above. Take a look at your policy and see if you have any. If you don’t, call your agent; this coverage is usually extremely cheap and can provide needed financial relief if you’ve been in an accident. Usually, all you do is set up the claim with your own insurance company and send it copies of your medical bills. Your insurance company will send you a check to reimburse you or, if you request, will send it directly to the provider. The at-fault driver’s liability insurance gets no discount or benefit from your bills being paid by PIP.

    The Most Important Car Insurance in South Carolina

    It’s called “underinsured motorist coverage,” underinsurance, or UIM. It protects victims hurt in serious accidents by drivers who don’t have enough insurance. This vital part of your insurance policy kicks in to pay the rest of your claim, or at least compensate you more fully when the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover it. Even better, if you've got this coverage on other cars in your household, it can be stacked to pay you more.

    Sadly, South Carolina law does not require this coverage, but it must be offered a very specific way by your agent. If you reject the coverage but your agent failed to offer it properly, South Carolina law allows you to get that coverage on your policy to cover you anyway.

    If you want more information, check out our free report on South Carolina car accident claims.

    It’s bad enough when you get severely hurt in a wreck, but it can be made worse by all the complications of medical bills piling up and adjusters harassing you about your claim or not returning your calls. If you’ve been seriously hurt and need help managing the insurance for your claim, send us an email or start a live chat. You can always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.

     

  • I got hurt in an accident, and now medical bills are piling up. Can I use my health insurance to pay for accident Injuries?

    Absolutely! In fact, you should- beause that's exactly what health insurance is for.

    After a serious accident—even if it was someone else’s fault—the bills for your medical care will start to pile up.

    Whether you suffered a broken leg in a Greer car accident, injured your spine by falling in a Boiling Springs grocery store, or have been given the wrong medicine at a Greenville hospital, the other side’s insurance company won’t pay your medical bills as you get them. This is true no matter how nice the insurance company representative is, and even if you tell providers to send bills to the wrongdoer.

    Paying the bills remains your responsibility. Providers expect you to pay right now, and may send your account to bill collectors—an action that can damage your credit, despite all your honest assurances you’ll pay them once the case settles. So here’s one of the most important tips we give any injury victim: If you have health insurance, use it.

    Your Health Care Coverage Can Relieve Bill Pressure

    You’ve paid for your health insurance, and this is exactly what it’s for. Using your own health insurance will keep you from being worried about mounds of bills and the stress of being hounded by bill collectors.

    • If you did not immediately file your bills with your health insurance, it may not be too late. You should still ask providers to file it. Almost all medical bills have a section you can fill in with your insurance information.
    • Don’t let a provider strong-arm you into not filing on your health insurance: the provider agreed with your insurance company to take it.

    A Hidden Benefit of Health Insurance Might Help Your Case

    Health insurance pays your bills in full at a discount. But evidence of health insurance payments is inadmissible in court. The reason is that wrongdoers do not get credit for your good sense or good fortune in having health insurance. For purposes of your case, the value of your medical bills is the amount of the bill without any insurance discount.

    Here’s how it can help you: Say your health insurance company has negotiated a discount and pays only $500 to settle your $2,000 medical bill. The wrongdoer’s insurance should consider that a $2,000 medical bill, which ought to get you a higher settlement than a $500 medical bill.

    Your health insurance company will probably notify you of its claim to get part of your accident settlement to reimburse the medical bills it paid. This is called subrogation. In many of our cases involving subrogation, we are able to convince the health insurance company to let our client pay it back at a discount. This makes sense, as we did their work for them, keeping the health insurance company from paying someone else to recover the money owed. Our clients keep the extra amount.

    If you’ve been hurt in an accident in GreenvilleSpartanburg, Cherokee, or Union Counties and have questions about how insurance can help you, check out our free report on South Carolina car accident claims that may answer other questions you have. Feel free to start a live chat or send us email. We will be delighted to meet with you for free to discuss your options. You can always call at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.

     

  • Where does the money come from to pay an accident settlement? My daughter was bitten by a neighbor’s dog in Gaffney and the doctor says she needs plastic surgery. If I make a claim against my neighbors, will they have to pay for it out of their pocket?

    Probably not. Personal injury cases rarely involve going after someone’s personal assets. Victims usually recover from an insurance policy held by the one who hurt them, especially in traffic wrecks, slip or trip and fall cases, nursing home injuries, and medical malpractice cases. That’s what liability insurance is for—to help protect your personal assets when you are careless and hurt someone.

    Dog bites are no exception. Many home owners, including landlords, have a homeowner’s or general liability policy to cover these injuries. Your neighbors or their landlord has probably paid thousands of dollars over the years to an insurance company, which basically got free money. Now it’s time to use the policy as intended.

    Free pointer: you may have insurance to help you pay while waiting for your claim to be settled. If you have health insurance, use it to pay for the medical care related to your accident. You’ve paid a lot of money for this policy and you should still use it for these injuries. Doing so won’t hurt your case, and it could help it. Plus the liability insurance won’t pay for your treatment as you get it.

    At Holland & Usry, we are sensitive to the fact we’ve all got to live together. But part of that is expecting neighbors to look after those who get hurt on their property. We always seek to recover first (and almost always last) from a liability insurance policy. If your neighbor is a good one, he’ll understand he is using his insurance as intended, to help an innocent child and the good family who cares for her to recover for injuries she suffered at his home. Don’t sacrifice what is right for your child in the interest of not starting trouble. You didn’t start it, and it’s never “trouble” to do right by your child.

    If you are worried how to handle an injury claim you might have, you don’t even have to call us. You can start a live chat or send us an email from this website. We will be delighted to arrange a free meeting to discuss whether you have a case and whether we can accept it. You can always feel free to call us toll free at 888-230-1841 or 864-582-0416 to arrange a free meeting to discuss your case, including how we can figure out whether insurance exists to help cover the injuries.

     

  • I got arrested for DUI in Spartanburg and the officer took my license. Why should I bother contesting it?

    There are many reasons to contest your DUI/DUAC arrest suspension, called an “administrative license suspension.” The officer suspends your license on the spot for a DUI/DUAC arrest if you refuse the test or blow .15 or more. If you’re not a resident and still have your license, you’re not out of the woods. The officer can still suspend your privilege to drive in South Carolina, which gets reported to your home state’s DMV, often resulting in license suspension there.

    To contest the suspension, you must request an administrative hearing within 30 days of your arrest.

    Here Are the Major Reasons to Contest Your License Suspension:

    • It gives you a better driver’s license option until after the hearing. Once you request an administrative hearing, you have the right to a temporary alcohol license, allowing you to drive anywhere until after the hearing. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a route-restricted license, meaning you can only drive certain places, usually work, school, and your Alcohol Drug and Safety Action Program (ADSAP).
    • It could prevent you from having to take ADSAP. ADSAP is called “drunk driving school”—you have to go to classes. It’s expensive, costing from $500 to $2500 (we expect $500 for a DUI/DUAC first offense). You don’t get your regular license returned after your suspension until you’ve signed up and paid.
    • It could prevent you from having to get an ignition interlock. For arrests on or after October 1, 2014, you can end this suspension if you get ignition interlock, a costly device installed in the ignition system of your car that gives you a breath alcohol test before your car will turn on. Interlock is required a minimum of three months, even if less than three months remains on the suspension when you get it. You also still have to pay for ADSAP.
    • You might win! The administrative hearing requires the State to prove several things, as we have discussed in other articles on this website. The officer might be unable to prove his case. Also, officers sometimes don’t show up for these hearings. If so, your lawyer can get this part of your case dismissed.
    • It’s a battle that can help win the war. The officer’s testimony at the hearing could help your trial strategy, even if you lose. The administrative hearing testimony provides a glimpse of his trial testimony, which can help your lawyer prepare ways to attack it. The real war will be the DUI/DUAC criminal trial still to come. Also, because the administrative hearing often takes place months after your arrest, the officer may not remember the details. If he overstates his case, a talented DUI/DUAC defense lawyer can inflict extreme damage in cross-examination at the criminal trial by showing his testimony doesn’t match up with the video, i.e., the truth. This would damage the officer’s credibility and could increase your chances of victory.
    • Peace talks. It’s a chance to discuss reducing the criminal charge with the officer, if that’s a strategy that will help you.

    If you’ve had your license suspended for a DUI/DUAC first offense for refusing the breath test or blowing .15 or over, the administrative hearing can be critical to your case defense. Doing it right, like so many other aspects of DUI/DUAC cases in Spartanburg, can be a little tricky. Because a legal deadline looms over you, you owe it to yourself to discuss requesting an administrative hearing with an experienced DUI/DUAC lawyer who regularly handles these cases.

    At Holland & Usry, we don’t just limit cases to Spartanburg. We also defend DUI/DUAC cases in Cherokee, Union, or Greenville County. You can always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting or start a live chat or email right where you’re sitting. We’ll be delighted to give you a free meeting to discuss your rights and potential defenses.

    For more information about South Carolina DUI/DUAC license suspensions, you can also download our free report.

     

  • My uncle got seriously hurt in a tractor-trailer accident in Union. I know we can hold the truck driver accountable because the crash was his fault. But can we hold the trucking company accountable too?

    Yes, assuming the trucker is legally considered an employee of the trucking company. The company may claim he's an "independent contractor", a legal technicality that gets the company out of responsibility. That defense can be defeated with the right evidence, but you'll need a sharp, experienced trucking attorney to find it and convincingly present it to win your case.

    There are two ways the trucking company can be held responsible. First, the trucking company is already responsible because South Carolina law holds an employer liable for the acts of its employee. Since the trucker caused the crash, his employer—the trucking company—will also be held accountable.

    The second way the trucking company might be held accountable is a little more complicated. Stated in general terms, the second way is called negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention, entrustment, and maintenance. It can be an important part of your case because South Carolina law considers this a separate liability, meaning you may be compensated for these claims in addition to compensation for the crash itself. The basic legal principle behind this is that trucking companies are responsible when they knew or should have known their driver or their truck created an undue risk of harm to the public. At Holland & Usry, we would say this is not just a legal responsibility, but a moral one. Briefly, here are some facts we can develop to help prove these claims:

    Negligent Hiring

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to:

    • Perform a proper background search of the driver, especially his driving and criminal record, that could have revealed him legally ineligible to drive an 18-wheeler in the first place;
    • Adequately check qualifications to drive a big rig, like making sure he could pass a tractor-trailer driving test as required by federal regulations.

    Negligent Training

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to properly train the trucker to:

    • Safely operate the tractor-trailer;
    • Know and obey laws and regulations regarding the operation of tractor-trailers;
    • Be consistently taught safe driving practices to protect the motoring public, by a company-sponsored safety program.

    Negligent Supervision

    Holds the trucking company accountable for:

    • Failing to monitor the trucker’s driving record and driving performance during employment to be sure he drove safely once employed;
    • Committing what I call “the worst deadly sin”: allowing the trucker to drive excessive hours and ignoring logbook violations. Federal regulations strictly limit the amount of hours a trucker can drive. We all shudder at a 30-ton mammoth machine hurtling down the interstate at 70 miles per hour with the driver asleep at the wheel. Log books—also required by federal regulations—keep truckers honest by forcing them to document they rested as required by law. But cheating occurs, and companies sometimes look the other way.

    Negligent Retention

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to discipline and even fire the trucker for a pattern of dangerous driving.

    Negligent Maintenance

    Holds the trucking company accountable for failing to properly maintain the tractor-trailer involved in the crash.

    Negligent Entrustment

    Holds the trucking company accountable for giving its tractor-trailer to a trucker who’s unqualified, inadequately trained, or just plain incompetent to drive it.

    If you look back at these factors, you’ll realize they have two things in common; they are designed to make trucking companies help keep us safe, and violating them is a choice made by the trucking company. Violations may be proven by showing the trucking company did not have policies and procedures to prevent them, or that the trucking company did have policies and procedures in place but ignored them. We might also hold the trucking company liable by proving it ignored federal regulations.

    At Holland & Usry, we take severe injuries from South Carolina tractor-trailer accidents seriously, whether they occur in Spartanburg, Greenville, Cherokee, or Union counties, or anywhere in our state. If you’re the victim of a South Carolina semi-truck crash, you owe it to yourself and your family to speak with an experienced attorney to explore your rights and develop a case against the trucking company for breaking safety rules designed to keep you safe.

    Sometimes, we’ll hire a trucking industry expert to help us prove what both the trucker and the trucking company did wrong to maximize your compensation for severe injuries or the death of a loved one. You can also check out our free report on South Carolina auto accidents, which includes a chapter on tractor-trailer accidents. If you’d like a free meeting with us to discuss your tractor-trailer wreck case, we can come to you if you’re too hurt to come to us. Feel free to start a live chat or send us an email. If you prefer, you can simply call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free 888.230.1841 for your free meeting to begin evaluating your case and preserving your rights.

     

  • My uncle broke his arm at work in Union and got a $30,000 workers’ comp settlement. I just broke my arm at work in Spartanburg. Am I guaranteed the same amount?

    No. In fact, your case might be worth more, but it could be less. South Carolina workers’ comp cases are like the people they help: every one is unique. The settlement amount depends on a variety of factors. This gives us a great chance to discuss the basics of a typical workers’ comp settlement.

    The Starting Point: Your Average Weekly Wage

    Your average weekly wage sets the dollar amount to value your settlement. It’s usually based on your wages for the last four quarters before you got hurt, excluding the quarter you got hurt. If you worked for a shorter period than that, it’s based on the time you worked, as long as it’s fair both to you and the employer.

    Weekly check amount. Your average weekly wage is also the amount of your weekly temporary total disability (TTD) check if you miss more than eight days of work due to your injury.

    For this example, we’ll imagine your average weekly wage is $500. Now we move to the next factor in valuing your settlement, which is a bit odd.

    Typical Settlement Limits and the “Scheduled Loss” Law

    It sounds strange, but South Carolina's workers’ compensation law lists the body parts most often hurt at work, along with a limit in weeks for each. This sets the maximum value for a total loss of that body part.

    In your case, the maximum value for the arm is 220 weeks. To get the highest settlement amount for the total loss of your arm, we multiply your average weekly wage of $500 by 220 weeks to equal $110,000. But since you won’t lose your arm, we go to the next factor—what we at Holland & Usry call the “wild card.”

    The Wild Card: Impairment and Disability Ratings

    The workers’ comp system usually requires a percentage of loss of use to reach a settlement amount. This percentage is based on a permanent impairment rating given to you by the doctor. That percentage is then used to arrive at a disability rating. Here’s how those two ratings work:

    • Medical impairment rating generally measures permanent loss of mobility and strength caused by your injury.
    • Workers’ comp disability rating reflects how your medical impairment hurts your ability to work. The disability rating accounts for lost ability to do your job caused by medical impairment. Disability should be higher than the impairment rating.

    We call this the “wild card” because disability is different for everyone depending on what job they do. For instance, if you’re a brick layer who lifts, carries, and reaches up with heavy loads at work, a 25 percent impairment rating to your arm is a much higher work disability than an office worker with the same rating, because it’s much harder to do your job with a permanently damaged arm.

    This is the hardest part of your case to value. It’s also the part that has the greatest potential to maximize your compensation. But before settling, there may be another major factor: whether to protect your rights to future medical treatment.

    Medical Treatment: Keep It Open or Walk Away?

    There are two basic options for future medical treatment in the typical workers’ compensation settlement:

    • Keep your options open. Keep your right to medical treatment open for one year after the full payment of your settlement. But beware! Not going to the comp doctor for over a year likely forfeits this right, too. This is called a Form 16 settlement for the form signed to do it.
    • Walk away: the clincher. A clincher means you give up the right to comp insurance paying for future treatment for your injury. This usually gets you more money, because you take the risk of paying for future treatment, and the insurance company will pay extra to get off the hook.

    Even a basic workers’ compensation settlement can be complicated. It requires thorough knowledge of your medical diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, and knowledge of workers’ compensation law. It’s only harder if you’re hurt really bad or just don’t feel like dealing with all the phone calls and the tiny details to protect you and your family under comp law.

    At Holland & Usry, we can take that pressure off you, and work with you to arrive at a proper settlement amount. We can help you in front of the workers’ compensation commission if the insurance company won’t pay the fair settlement. If you want to discuss your options or need help with your Union or Spartanburg workers’ compensation claim, feel free to send us an email, start a live chat on our website, or call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.

  • Will I have to testify in my criminal trial?

    The honest answer: Maybe. In our years defending criminal cases at Holland and Usry, we’ve found few things generate more fear in an accused person than taking the stand in their own defense. We’ll address those emotions in a minute. But first, set them aside so you can focus on what guides our decision. This is not a lofty notion but three bedrock FACTS:

    • To convict you, the government must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • The accused always has the right to remain silent.
    • The jury cannot hold your silence against you. The judge must instruct the jury they cannot even discuss your not taking the stand in their deliberations.

    Because it’s all up to the government to prove your guilt, we’re not going to do their work for them. If your testimony would remove all doubt of your guilt, you’re not testifying. But even if you’re innocent, you still might not take the stand.

    Some Good Reasons to Not Testify Even If You’re Innocent:

    It’s unnecessary.

    The classic example is a DUI: if there is a video of you, the way you look on the video already establishes whether you were impaired. By the way, if you’re worried about how you did on those field sobriety tests, check out our free report on DUI cases, which has a chapter that should relieve your anxiety about that.

    It hurts our strategy.

    If we put up any evidence, we lose the last closing argument. That means the State gets an extra shot to talk to the jury about everything they think is wrong with our defense. The last voice in the jury’s ears will be the prosecutor who wants to condemn you. Sometimes it’s just better for them to hear what we have to say last.

    Your emotions overwhelm the necessity of your testimony.

    Unlike anyone else in the courtroom, you’re the only one whose life and reputation is at stake. On the stand, you might feel like the verdict is in your hands alone. This can be overwhelming, and you’re justified feeling afraid and nervous. Fear and nerves create mistakes—you need only look at the world of sports where many games are decided on missed field goals, free throws, or short putts. And this is no game.

    When You Do Testify: the Antidote for Fear and Nerves.

    If your testimony is necessary, we counter your fear and nerves with the best antidote: preparation. This does not mean memorizing speeches or dishonestly twisting facts hoping to fool the jury. On the stand, your best friend is honesty, even admitting things that hurt you a little bit. Remember if your testimony hurts a lot, you’re not doing it. We work with our clients to develop their testimony so you’ll feel prepared when you take the stand to defend yourself. You’ll know:

    • The facts of your case so you don’t get tripped up.
    • Honest, meaningful explanations for things that hurt you. Sometimes admitting dumb mistakes—like prior convictions—and taking responsibility for them helps the jury understand your innocence in this case. It also takes a lot of gas out of the prosecutor’s cross-examination.
    • How to respond patiently, respectfully, and honestly even when you’re getting grilled. Our goal is to keep you calm on the stand so the jury views you as a reasonable person. You might get a little seared by a very talented prosecutor, but not burned to a crisp.
    • How to use cross-examination as a way to repeat your defense. While questions are generally designed to be answered yes or no, you can explain in a way that continues to help your case: “Yes, I was there when the car got stolen, but I never touched it and the only fingerprints officers found were someone else’s.”

    If you’ve been charged with a crime and want to discuss your options, including whether you’ll have to testify, do contact us by phone at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841, email, or start a live chat and we’ll get in touch with you.

     

Live Chat