SC Law Blog

Welcome to the South Carolina Law Blog where there is open discussion through feedback on hot legal topics in this state. Feel free to comment and/or suggest a topic to address.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Representation you can trust in a DUI case

Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed about your DUI arrest?  You are not alone, in 2010, it was reported that 1.41 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Based on this statistic from MADD, you can infer that there have been similarly situated people who have had to cope with the same feelings of embarrassment or shame that you are currently experiencing.

DUIs affect a wide range of people: young, old, white, Hispanic, African American and so on. Take for example, DMX, a famous rapper. He has been arrested on multiple occasions over the last several years. Just recently, he was picked up in South Carolina and arrested on DUI charges. You might think a famous rapper like DMX would have called a cab or a limo for that matter. But, even famous people make mistakes and drunk driving is a common mistake. For more information on the DMX case, visit:

Whether you are a blue-collar worker, or a famous celebrity, your life can significantly be impacted by a DUI. You need a lawyer you can trust and Daniel Selwa is the best man for the job. Don’t let the mistake of drinking and driving ruin your life. If you go unrepresented, without competent counsel, you may end up facing the strictest punishment for the crime. Conviction of a DUI can include: fines, probation, jail time and suspension of your driver’s license. Furthermore, a DUI conviction can affect your personal relationships, as well as business relationships. A DUI conviction could prevent you from obtaining your dream job or maintaining it.

You will want to hire an experienced DUI attorney, who is familiar with traffic laws, and motor vehicle laws.  DUI cases often involve breathalyzer tests, blood tests and other field sobriety tests. You need an attorney who is familiar with these tests and knows how to successfully challenge the results of these tests. Equally as important is hiring an attorney who is a local to the area where the arrest occurred. A local attorney will be familiar with locations and the court system, which will put you at an advantage.

Emotions often run high in DUI cases and you need an attorney you can trust. Contact Daniel Selwa today for a consultation regarding your DUI case. Daniel Selwa is a reputable and trusted criminal defense attorney in the Grand Strand area and he will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in your DUI case.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hiring an Experienced DUI Myrtle Beach Attorney

In Myrtle Beach, especially during the summer time, many people hire an attorney for one thing and that is help with their DUI case. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney is critical in fighting your DUI charges. Hiring attorney Daniel Selwa can mean the difference between fines, losing your license, and imprisonment. An experienced attorney can help minimize or avoid the severe penalties that accompany a DUI conviction.

The world of DUIs is quite different than other areas of law. You need an attorney that knows the state specific traffic laws, police procedure, and the problems associated with field sobriety tests. By hiring an attorney well versed in the area of DUIs, your attorney will be able to challenge the charge by challenging the evidence against you. This includes reviewing the on-site roadside field sobriety tests (if performed) and  challenging the results of the breathlyzer test (if given).

You should also hire an attorney you feel comfortable with; always trust your gut. In order to best represent to the best of his or her ability, your attorney is going to need to know every little detail about your case. Quite often, people facing DUI charges feel ashamed or embarrassed, naturally so, but it is important to remember your attorney is fighting for you and will not judge you based upon the information you give him, he will simply use it to your advantage in the courtroom. Become familiar with the attorney you hire, ask him questions about his background, his legal experience, and specifically his knowledge and experienced in the area of DUI law.

Don’t fight your DUI charges alone, hire attorney Daniel Selwa today. A DUI conviction can result in hefty fines, suspension of a driver’s license, and imprisonment. You can open a book and learn all about DUI laws and the possible outcomes of a DUI conviction. However, you can’t learn how to represent yourself from a book. An experienced attorney not only has the knowledge that you can obtain from a book but he also has the courtroom experience that can lead to a victory. As the old adage goes, those that represent themselves in a court of law, have a fool for a lawyer.  Call today for a free consultation.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Aaron Hernandez and the Criminal Process

New England Patriots’ starting tight end Aaron Hernandez is facing murder charges. The news that he was suspected of killing semi pro football player Odin Lloyd came as a shock to many.  He was just given a $40 million dollar contract to continue to play football for the Patriots. But, perhaps you wouldn’t be so shocked that he was facing these charges if you knew his history. You might just know Aaron Hernandez as a star football player for the Patriots. But, dig deeper into his past and you will see he has been questioned about his possible involvement in prior crimes.

Aaron Hernandez is currently being sued civilly for allegedly shooting a man in the face several times. He is also being investigated in a 2012 drive by shooting that left two other men dead in Boston. It has also been reported that in 2007 he was questioned about a shooting following a Florida Gators football game. Does this background information change the way you feel about Aaron Hernandez? Perhaps you no longer feel shocked by the fact that he is suspected of killing Odin Lloyd.

Under American law, the suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor bears the burden of proof and the prosecutor must show the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt under criminal law. After the prosecutor pleads his case, the defendant will have the opportunity to present a defense that raises doubt about whether he committed the crime or should be excused of the crime. The most common defenses a defendant will raise include: denial of committing the crime at all, evidence of an alibi witness which raises doubt as to whether you could have committed the crime, self defense, and the insanity defense. Whether you are on the prosecution side or the defense side, a good attorney can develop the best trial strategies for your particular case. The prosecutor has the ability to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the particular crime while the defense attorney has the ability to raise doubt as to whether the defendant committed the particular crime.

In a criminal trial such as this one, the jury will weigh the evidence from both sides and decide Aaron Hernandez’s fate. The judge always gives specific instructions to the jury on the law and the jury must take the facts of the case and apply them to the law. This is a highly publicized case since it involves a famous football player. It is likely the trial will not be open to the general public as many trials are. The jury will be told to avoid media both in person and on television. Also, the jury will be instructed not to discuss the case with others outside the jury room. Would you want to be a jury member on a high profile case such as this one?

Much like the OJ Simpson case, this case will likely keep media attention for quite some time. Much of what people know about criminal law they learn from television. But, criminal law is not all about the theatrics you see displayed in the courtroom on television. As you can see from this post, criminal law is much more complicated than what you see on television. The complications presented by the reasonable doubt standard in criminal law shows the importance of hiring an experienced criminal law attorney. Contact your experienced criminal law attorney Daniel Selwa today to discuss your case.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Police Powers: Detention Process

So if you know anything about police powers or you have ever been arrested, you are probably familiar with the detention process. If you are not familiar with the detention process, detention is the process whereby the police or an agent of the government removes your freedom of liberty. When the police detain you to question you about your involvement in a crime, they are required to give you the Miranda warnings.  The person detained and interrogated must be made aware of their right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney, the right to have an attorney present during questioning and if indigent, the right to have an attorney appointed to you.

When a suspect is detained on criminal charges, part of the police procedure is to fingerprint the suspect. The police have the power to fingerprint you and this is something you can’t refuse. Now, a recent Supreme Court decision has made it legal to take DNA samples from the detained suspect. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority decision and explained that DNA swabbing is just like fingerprinting and photographing and he called it “a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the fourth amendment.” For more information on this recent Supreme Court decision, check out:

DNA evidence has come a long way over the years and has become the most reliable method to identifying criminal suspects. It is often used at criminal trials as key evidence. Now, in 28 states, DNA samples can be taken upon police detention.

It is important to consult your criminal defense attorney immediately. You are entitled to have an attorney by your side throughout the criminal process. The law is constantly changing and your attorney knows better than anyone else the ways to avoid criminal punishment. Attorney Daniel Selwa is available for a consultation on your criminal case. Contact Daniel Selwa today to discuss your case.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Disorderly Conduct

Reese Witherspoon, the Hollywood celebrity that is best known for her roles in Sweet Home Alabama and Legally Blonde was recently arrested on disorderly conduct charges. Police arrested her after she would not cooperate with their requests for her to remain in the vehicle while they conducted a field sobriety test on her husband. As you can see from this local WMBF news article, celebrities are subject to the same laws as ordinary citizens.

It’s easy to imagine how a spouse or friend could get upset when the police are questioning a loved one. But by sometimes any involvment with the police while they are investigating a crime can get you arrested.....police officers often don't care whether you have a right to express your opinion or not and the police will often arrest you if you annoy them during their shift.  The catch-all charge they use to accomplish this is disorderly conduct.

South Carolina defines disorderly conduct as being at a public highway place, or gathering in a gross intoxicated condition or conducting oneself in a disorderly or boisterous manner in public or use of obscene or profane language at any public highway, place, or gathering or in hearing distance of any schoolhouse or church or discharging a firearm while upon or within 50 yards of any public road or highway while under the influence or feigning to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor, without just cause or excuse. As you can tell from the Reese Witherspoon case, it doesn’t take much to get arrested on disorderly conduct charges. She essentially talked back in a disrespectful manner to the police and refused to cooperate and she got arrested because of it.

A disorderly conduct charge is a misdemeanor charge and can carry a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. In deciding whether someone was engaging in disorderly conduct, the trier of fact takes into consideration the time and place of the utterance. They will also consider whether the conduct was in a public place. A public place is one that is so situated that what passes there can be seen by a large amount of people if they happen to look. It is a place exposed to the public and where the public gathers together or passes by. The content of the speech is also considered when determining if someone is guilty of the crime of disorderly conduct. Language, which is intended to put a police officer in fear or to intimidate or impede him in the discharge of his duties, is not constitutionally protected.

Lately, a very unhealthy trend has emerged with police officers.  This trend is to stop you from recording them.  This conduct is illegal but the best course of conduct is to see an attorney after the incident to address the police officer's conduct in a court of law. There are also defenses that are available to fight a disorderly conduct charge. For available defenses, contact your local experienced criminal defense attorney Daniel Selwa.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Use of Marijuana in SC

Medical marijuana usa
Medical marijuana usa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although marijuana use is still illegal in South Carolina, multiple stores along the Grand Strand carry marijuana substitutes that are supposed to produce the same effects as marijuana.  Many users of marijuana or marijuana substitutes use it to experience a particular feeling, referred often to as a “high.” But much like other drugs or substances, the use of marijuana or marijuana substitutes can carry harmful side effects. The harmful health effects have been reported to be similar for both marijuana and synthetic marijuana substitutes and they may include nausea, delusions and headaches.

While some people choose to purchase legal substitutes for marijuana, others still purchase and use marijuana. While some states are leaning toward legalizing marijuana, it doesn’t seem to be the case here in South Carolina. Increasingly so, the legal penalties are becoming similar for the possession/use of marijuana and synthetic marijuana substitutes.  For instance, just recently, the South Carolina legislature made the purchase and/or use of the marijuana substitute, K2 and bath salts illegal in Columbia, South Carolina.

The criminal penalties will vary based upon the amount of marijuana you are in possession of. The following penalties show the differentiation the law makes between possessing a small amount versus a large amount of marijuana. For simple possession of marijuana, (no more than 28 grams), or hashish, (no more than 10 grams), the penalty carries jail time of up to 30 days or a fine ranging between $100 and $200. A second or subsequent offense carries up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1000. If you are charged with carrying more than 28 grams of marijuana or more than 10 grams of hasish the penalties can reach up to 15 years of jail and/or up to $25,000.  If you are facing a subsequent charge for possession of more than 28 grams or more than 10 grams of hasish the penalties can include jail time of up to 30 years and up to $50,000.

While there are many local smoke shops along the Grand Strand and there was a big event just recently for 04/20, the use and/or possession of marijuana is still illegal in the state of South Carolina. If you or someone you know is facing charges for your involvement with marijuana, contact your local attorney Daniel Selwa.