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Holland & Usry, P.A.

Honest Criminal Defense Law 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 got pulled over for a minor traffic violation, but the police kept asking me stuff until I let them search my car for drugs. Can they do that?

    Maybe. But it’s a big maybe that can be the difference between possibly getting your charges dismissed, instead of your being convicted for the evidence they found in the search, like drugs or weapons.

    Searches after traffic stops can result when police keep questioning you about things unrelated to the stop, which can end up in police searching the car to find evidence of crime. Sometimes people even agree to have their cars searched in this situation. We call this “extending the traffic stop.”

    The real question is, what gives police the right to do that? And what happens if they violate your right against it? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

    Limits on the Police’s Authority at a Traffic Stop

    To paraphrase Yogi Berra, a traffic stop is over when it’s over. In a routine traffic stop, the officer can:

    • Request your license and registration,
    • Run a check of your driving and criminal records, and
    • Issue a ticket.

    That’s it. Once he tells you you’re getting a ticket, the stop is over and you should be free to go.

    Keeping you at the scene after that to ask you more questions is illegal unless the officer has reasonable suspicion of a serious crime. Note the exception. The officer can keep you for questioning unrelated to the stop for reasonable suspicion of another crime. The legal system struggles with a clear definition of “reasonable suspicion.” Basically, it means reasons, supported by facts, that he suspects you of another crime.

    But what if he has no facts and keeps questioning you anyway until you finally give in and let him search?

    The Consequences of Unjustifiably Extending a Stop

    It’s a game-changer: The entire search is void, even if you consented to it. All evidence of any crime is thrown out, including any statement you made—even if you confessed.

    The Stakes Are High and the Law Is Complex

    Our state Supreme Court describes extending a traffic stop as undetectable by ordinary folks like you. You’re no legal technician, so you don’t know whether you’re free to leave or not, especially faced with a man with a badge and a gun. And the law is very complex.

    You need a trained criminal defense attorney experienced in drug defense. No one wants to let somebody caught “red handed” go. You need a sharp criminal defense lawyer who can spot the facts because he knows the law, and who is able to present your side of the story convincingly to a skeptical prosecutor and possibly a judge. And the stakes couldn’t be higher for you. A successful argument here could be the difference between the stain of conviction—and even prison time—or thanking your lucky stars and moving on with life after a dismissal or a plea deal you can live with.

    Send us an email from where you are now so we can schedule a free meeting to start building your defense.


  • Can I get the no-contact condition of my bond removed? I got charged with domestic violence, but my wife and I are trying to reconcile.

    Possibly, but you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. 

    Until the no-contact condition gets lifted, DO NOT violate it. Doing so could cause your re-arrest and expose you to the possibility of staying in jail until your case is over. 

    Here’s how we try to get the no-contact bail provision lifted:

    • Spousal consent. If possible, we like some assurance that your spouse wants the condition lifted—a clearly worded letter or email, or a promise to tell the judge at the hearing will do. If your spouse won’t consent, forget it. You can’t expect a judge to lift a condition designed to protect someone if the protected person objects. 
    • File a motion to amend (change) bond conditions. In the motion, we list good reasons to justify the judge in lifting the no-contact provision. Reconciliation is an excellent one, as is help with child rearing. 
    • Present arguments at the hearing. We go before the judge to decide the motion. The state prosecutor will be there. Your spouse will be there. Expect the judge to ask your spouse if she agrees to lifting the condition, and if so, why. We present your arguments showing all the good reasons the judge should. 
    • The judge issues an order. Hopefully, it lifts the no-contact condition or allows some contact, like counseling or help with children. 

    Domestic abuse suspects who want no-contact provisions removed from bail orders face prosecutors who oppose them and judges who need to be extremely cautious in lifting these provisions. To give yourself the best shot at getting the provision lifted—not to mention winning your case—you need an experienced lawyer who is not afraid to stand up for you and point out how a so-called victim can change her mind, and how you both have the right to save your relationship even if it got a little rocky. There’s a whole lot more at stake than just your freedom—it’s your family. 

    At Holland & Usry, we are sensitive to your needs and how reconciliation can be best for everyone in the end. Call us at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 now to start building your defense and paving the way to reconciliation, if reconciliation's best for you.


  • I had a bad driving record when I was younger and my license has been permanently revoked. Is there anything I can do to get my driver’s license back?

    Yes. In some circumstances a person whose driver’s license has been revoked permanently based on a bad driving record can get his license back. It is not easy, but it can be done.

    A big part of the puzzle is that the person who had his license revoked must correct the behavior that led to the revocation. In order to get his license reinstated, he must show the following to be true:

    1. He must not been convicted for any alcohol or drug violations during the previous seven years…and not just in South Carolina, but in any state.

    2. He must not have been convicted of or have any charges pending for a driving violation during the previous seven-year period in South Carolina or any other state.

    3. He must have successfully completed the program provided by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services in South Carolina (ADSAP).

    4. His overall driving record, habits, character, and driving ability would make it safe for him to operate a motor vehicle.

    As you may imagine the first three are fairly easy to show. Either they have occurred or they haven’t occurred. It’s the last condition that is subjective. That is why one important part of the process is to have an attorney who knows how to present the evidence in a way that will best show that it is safe for you to have a driver’s license. This is an action that is filed in the Circuit Court, and is tried in front of a Circuit Court judge.

    No Easy Way to Restore A Permanently Revoked License

    If your license has been permanently revoked, there is no easy path to regaining your license. If you are eligible to apply, you must show seven years of “good behavior.” That’s difficult, but it can be done.

    If you would like to discuss your driver’s license problems or traffic-related charges with the attorneys of Holland & Usry, please do not hesitate to contact us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free, confidential consultation.


  • 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 Committed a Crime and Have No Defense. Can I Get Probation Without a 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’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 discharge.

    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.


  • Can I get criminal charges removed from my record?

    Possibly. South Carolina law allows criminal charges to be removed from your record under certain circumstances. The process of removing the charges from your record—and destroying all evidence of them in the public record—is called expungement.

    We’ll explore more specific examples of expungement in different situations in other articles in our website, but the following are generally eligible for expungement:

    • Charges that get dismissed or result in acquittal at trial. But be careful: charges dismissed as part of a plea bargain might not qualify.
    • Certain first offense convictions carrying a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a $1000 fine or both. Qualifying convictions include check fraud, criminal domestic violence, and simple possession of marijuana. But not DUI- another reason to fight that charge.
    • A conviction where you got sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA). YOA is open only to offenders under age 25, and only for certain offenses.
    • First offense failure to stop for a blue light.
    • Diversion programs. This includes pretrial intervention (PTI), alcohol education program (AEP), traffic education program (TEP), and conditional discharges, which can be available for some  drug charges and criminal domestic violence.
    • Certain juvenile convictions. Many, but not all, juvenile convictions in family court offer the chance to expunge your record.

    The easiest way to qualify for expungement is to win your case by dismissal or acquittal at trial. The next easiest is to qualify for a diversion program, like PTI. If you have multiple charges and might need to make a plea bargain, your expungement options should be considered. This complicates your case.

    The best way to give yourself the best shot at expungement is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the expungement law and can work to get you qualified even if you plead guilty or get convicted. As with any court process, expungement requires sending a proposed order to the proper authorities to get the necessary approvals to get your record erased. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you make sure you get it done right and fast.

    But the most important reason to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer is to win your case…because you might not be guilty.

    At Holland & Usry, we work to win and if we can’t, we work to make sure our clients suffer as little punishment as possible—with the hope they can qualify for expungement in the future. If you’ve been charged with a crime and wonder if you’ll ever get it off your record, call us at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to discuss your defenses and your expungement options.


  • I was recently pulled over and arrested. The police searched my car. Can they do that?

    Sometimes. When a police officer makes a lawful arrest of an occupant or the occupants of an automobile he may, at the same time of the arrest, search passenger compartments of the vehicle. He may also examine the contents of any container (such as a purse, backpack, or briefcase) found within the passenger compartment. But the police may do this only if the occupant who was arrested is within reaching distance of a passenger compartment at the time of the search, or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. Otherwise, the search may be unreasonable.

    If the search is unreasonable, it is a violation of your Fourth Amendment right to protection against unreasonable search and seizures. Thus, any evidence obtained during the unreasonable search should be excluded from your trial, meaning that evidence can’t be used against you. The suppression of evidence often leads to a dismissal of charges or a not guilty verdict.

    For example, consider a person who is arrested for driving under suspension. He is handcuffed and locked in a patrol car. At that point, he does not have access to his car to retrieve weapons or evidence any longer. Generally speaking, this would make any subsequent search of the automobile invalid. So, if this person was arrested and locked in a patrol car, and if the police search the pocket of a jacket on the back seat and find cocaine, the possession of such cocaine would be inadmissible in a trial, and thus the defendant would not be found guilty of possession of cocaine.

    If you have been charged with a crime and searched and evidence was seized, the search may have been unlawful. If the search was unreasonable, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to exclude that evidence from being used against you. This is helpful in reaching a dismissal, a not-guilty verdict, or a favorable plea bargain. If you wish to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers of Holland & Usry, P.A. at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for your FREE confidential consultation.


  • I was convicted of failure to stop for a blue light. I’m really worried about future employers seeing it on my criminal record. Can I get that charge off my record?

    Quite possibly. If your conviction is for a first offense with no great bodily injury or death, you may be eligible to have the charge wiped from your criminal record. This process is called “expungement.” South Carolina law allows expunging this charge just one time.

    To qualify, you must wait three years after completing your entire sentence and have no other convictions during those three years.

    The expungement process requires obtaining a court order. If you think you might be eligible, you should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in expungement to make sure the order is prepared correctly and submitted through the proper administrative channels. You should act the instant you are eligible to prevent the chance of any other conviction that could make you ineligible.

    At Holland & Usry, our criminal defense attorneys regularly handle expungement requests in Spartanburg and other nearby towns, so we’ve developed a system to get it done as fast as possible for low cost. If you are eligible or curious about expungement for this or any other charge, feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 to discuss your options.