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Greenville South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog

Police can usually access digital data without probable cause

Online privacy is a hot-button issue in South Carolina and around the country, and technology companies have been dragged over the coals by the media when they have sold confidential information to unscrupulous third parties or allowed malicious hackers to gain access to it. However, the ease with which law enforcement agencies can obtain personal information from social media companies and online service providers has prompted little in the way of outrage.

Technology companies have sometimes paid a heavy price for placing civil rights over public safety. In 2016, Apple faced a barrage of public and media criticism for refusing to help the FBI gain access to an iPhone owned by one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino mass shooting. Technology companies hoping to avoid such a problem may feel that turning over data quietly is far more prudent. Lawmakers have also been quiet on this issue. Police are only required to obtain a search warrant to access personal data in California, Utah and Washington.

Can a federal drug conviction impact financial aid eligibility?

South Carolina residents facing federal drug charges can potentially face a wide range of penalties, should those charges ultimately lead to convictions. Some of those penalties can have far-reaching effects on their personal and professional lives. If you are among those facing a federal drug charge and you are also a current recipient of financial aid, it is critical that you understand how a federal drug conviction could affect you.

While a federal drug conviction can leave you facing time in jail, steep financial penalties and other serious repercussions, it can also impact your ability to get financial assistance for schooling. This is also true of drug convictions that come at the state level, and both types of drug convictions can potentially hinder your academic and professional future.

Eyewitness identifications are often unreliable

Juries in South Carolina and around the country tend to find eyewitness testimony extremely persuasive, and this is especially true when witnesses are able to identify criminal defendants with confidence. However, the way that police departments conduct suspect lineups and the inner workings of the human brain can sometimes make witnesses seem far more confident in court than they were when they made the initial identification.

Researchers who have studied eyewitness identifications discovered that the conditions in which lineups are conducted can greatly influence their outcome. Lineup conditions are considered pristine when the officer conducting the lineup does not know who the suspect is and the suspect does not stand out from other members of the lineup in any meaningful way. These conditions can be extremely difficult to replicate in a busy police station, and conducting a pristine lineup may be impossible if the suspect has a distinctive appearance.

How testing can fail in a crash involving marijuana use

Let us say that law enforcement arrested you on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, specifically marijuana, after you T-boned another vehicle at an intersection.

You are a college student, and this is your first offense. You do not know what to expect or how a conviction will affect your future.

What is insurance fraud, and could you be guilty of it?

There are many kinds of fraud and they are classified as a white collar crime.

One example of this sort of criminal activity is insurance fraud, which is on the rise in South Carolina. What exactly is insurance fraud? Could a judge find you guilty of such a crime?

Over 3,000 freed from prison under First Step Act

South Carolina residents may be interested to learn that over 3,000 individuals will be released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons starting in late July 2019. The release is meant to comply with the conditions of the First Step Act, a criminal reform act passed by Congress in 2018.

Most of those who will be released have been in halfway houses across the United States and were convicted of drug-related crimes. An estimated 900 individuals who are set to be released may be detained by immigration officials or local authorities. An additional 250 people who are terminally ill or elderly are also set to be released into compassionate-release programs that allow home confinement.

Man admits to Walmart shooting during bond hearing

A 33-year-old man told a judge that he shot and killed a man inside a South Carolina Walmart store because a third individual wronged him. The admission was made during a July 6 bond hearing when the victim's father asked the man why he had killed his son. The man was denied bond and is being detained at the Greenville County Detention Center.

According to media reports, Greenville County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to the Walmart store located on White Horse Road in Berea at approximately 1:30 p.m. on July 5. When they arrived at the scene, deputies say that they discovered a man near the store's entrance who had been shot multiple times in the head and torso. Bystanders are said to have told deputies that two men who appeared to know one another were involved in a dispute before the shooting started.

What to do about a warrant for your arrest in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a judge may issue a warrant for your arrest if someone accuses you of committing a crime. A judge needs probable cause to grant an arrest warrant, protecting your Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful arrest.

Having a warrant out for your arrest can be frightening and confusing. How you handle the warrant can make a big difference to your future. Do not panic. Seek professional help to defend your rights. Start here, with a few general tips on how to handle an arrest warrant.

Law enforcement forces suspects to release passwords

When police arrested a Florida man for marijuana trafficking violations, they allegedly discovered possibly incriminating information on the defendant's cell phone. Since the phone was locked, officers demanded that the defendant release his password, but the defendant refused. While police are required to get a warrant to search a cell phone, it's not clear whether or not they have the power to force someone to give up their password. There varying rulings in jurisdictions from South Carolina to California.

Several days after the defendant in Florida was released on bail, a warrant was put out for his cell phone and password. When confronted by police, the defendant again refused to give up his password and was subsequently arrested for contempt of court. He served 44 days in jail until most of his charges were dropped for a minor pot misdemeanor. Many people would not spend time in jail to avoid giving up a password, but others are refusing to let law enforcement invade their private lives.

What is ineffective assistance of legal counsel?

The American judicial system is complex. In fact, most U.S. lawyers go to school for at least seven years to become proficient in the law. If you face criminal charges, though, you must think about the quality of your legal representation. 

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives criminal defendants the right to legal representation during virtually all parts of the criminal process. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, the government covers many legal fees for you. Before you hire an attorney or ask a judge to appoint one for you, you should know a few things about ineffective assistance of counsel. 

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William G. Yarborough Attorney at Law
308 W. Stone Avenue
Greenville, SC 29609

Toll Free: 800-469-3658
Phone: 864-326-3026
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William G. Yarborough Attorney at Law