Ryan Schwartz Gets a Not Guilty

A Berkeley County jury acquitted a man last week of most charges that stemmed from a woman’s claims she had been sexually assaulted on the side of a dark, rural road by two men who pretended to be law enforcement officers.

Darrien Jermain Walker, 23, of Otranto Road in North Charleston, was convicted of impersonating an officer but was found not guilty at trial of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, Berkeley County court records show. His co-defendant, Brandon Gibson, 24, also of Otranto Road, remained jailed Tuesday awaiting trial on the same charges.

“My major concern with this case was a serious lack of physical evidence linking my client or the co-defendant to the crime,” Walker’s attorney Ryan Schwartz said.

The alleged victim gave a statement to investigators saying two men had followed her from a bar in Goose Creek to Moncks Corner before assaulting her around 2 a.m. Sept. 14, 2013, Schwartz said. He questioned the woman’s credibility, saying the version of events she initially provided was inconsistent with testimony she gave while on the stand.

Brandon Gibson, 24, faces charges of impersonating an officer, kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, Berkeley County court records show.
Enlarge Brandon Gibson, 24, faces charges of impersonating an officer, kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, Berkeley County court records show. Provided
An incident report released by sheriff’s deputies alleged Walker and Gibson flashed red and blue lights on a cellphone to pull the woman over on Whitesville Road.

Both men claimed to be working undercover and accused the woman of appearing suspicious, she reported to investigators. One searched the woman’s car while another patted her down, “feeling every part of her body,” the report stated.

At one point, one leaned into the woman’s car, placed his hand on the seat between her legs and told her she was attractive, according to the report. He asked for the woman’s number, which she refused. He then grew angry, the report said, ordering her out of the vehicle and wrapping his arms around her so she couldn’t move.

“All she could do was scream,” the report said, prompting one man to place his hand over her mouth. He asked the other to retrieve a gun from their vehicle as he attempted to force her inside and take off her pants, the report said.

The woman fought back and the men eventually let her go, she reported.

Deputies pulled over a vehicle that matched a description provided by the woman shortly after the alleged assault. A gun was found in the car, deputies said, and the two men were placed under arrest after the woman identified them.

Walker had attended Brevard College on a football scholarship and transferred to Charleston Southern University shortly before his arrest. He was taken into custody a week before he was scheduled to begin classes there, Schwartz said. He remained jailed until his acquittal Thursday, he said.

Walker was sentenced to a year with credit for time served on the impersonation charge, court records show. He faced a maximum 30-year prison sentence if convicted of the kidnapping charge alone, Schwartz said.

“Thirty years is a significant, life-changing amount of time. … You never know what’s going to happen when you go to a jury, but I felt confident that we had exposed issues in the state’s case and that the jury would see through the smoke and mirrors,” Schwartz said.

Ninth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Matt Ozment, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment on the trial’s outcome.

All rights given to Christina Elmore and the Post and Courier.

Link to article: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150127/PC16/150129451

Criminal Defense Attorney Dorchester County DUI Lawyer

When you consider the possible outcome for non-representation, the benefits of having a Dorchester County criminal defense attorney become apparent. There are numerous advantages to employing the use of a criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer in Dorchester county when you find yourself needing legal representation. In Dorchester County, there is no need to face the complicated judicial system unprepared and alone.

In South Carolina, DUI laws are meant to deter irresponsible drinking whenever there is a need to engage in driving activities. This encompasses the social drinker who makes the mistake of having a drink and winding up behind the wheel. Officers are allowed to initiate a drunk-driving arrest, simply on the basis of suspicion of being impaired.

If you are pulled over for suspicion of being under the influence, you may be instructed to take a breathalyzer test. This test will determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusing to submit to the test could result in a civil action, and the state may seek to suspend your driver’s license. But taking the blood alcohol test and failing it will also have negative consequences. This is why you need a Dorchester County DUI lawyer to come to your defense. If your BAC is over .08, you will likely be on your way to the police station.

Criminal and Civil Charges

There is no doubt that there could possibly be severe consequences if you are charged with driving under the influence in the county of Dorchester. There could actually be criminal and civil penalties to pay, following the outcome of your legal case. Without a good DUI and criminal defense attorney, you could easily find yourself facing large fines, jail time, or both. However, the right Dorchester County dui lawyer can help you win your case, or at least receive less severe penalties. Mandatory substance abuse treatment or community service may not be the most desirable sentences, but they are much better than the alternatives.

Depending on the circumstances of your case (and the level of BAC), it is actually possible to still lose your license, even though you win the DUI case. This fact alone is reason enough for you to seek out a good Dorchester county criminal defense attorney and dui lawyer. Notice the possible consequences that can result from a DUI charge or conviction.
Possible Consequences Include:

* Suspended driver’s license
* Revoked driver’s license
* Related violation and legal fines
* Increase in auto insurance premiums
* Loss of job
* Incarceration

Benefits of Representation

As you can see from the information previously discussed, there are many benefits of having legal representation, especially when dealing with a DUI case in Dorchester county.

They can help you when you are first arrested and continue fighting in your behalf, right until the end. You won’t have to be in the dark about the charges you are facing, and the possible outcomes, both favorable and not so favorable.

The DUI or criminal defense attorney on the case will help point out the best options for you, and work hard to plan the best strategic defense. After a thorough examination of the details of your case, you may be surprised to learn that your attorney can help you achieve a better outcome.

One strategy that your attorney might recommend after reviewing your case is to have the DUI charge challenged. This means going to court and having a jury trial. Your counsel will be there to use all the legal knowledge they have, to get you an acquittal. Clearly this is the most desired outcome.

Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County DUI Lawyer

Being an accused in a criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean your conviction. While it may cause both physical and emotional exhaustion on your part and on the part of your family, you should not give up and fight for your own rights. If you are in need of direction and support upon notification of criminal charges filed against you in Berkeley County, finding a good criminal defense attorney Berkeley County should be your first step.

Tips in Finding Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County

Here are some essential tips to help you find a good lawyer who can defend your case and help you obtain reasonable judgment:

1. Look for experts
Just as other professionals, lawyers are experts in their own chosen field of practice. While some lawyers are very effective in defending civil cases, they may not be as good in defending criminal cases. Hiring criminal law experts as your defense lawyer in Berkeley County is a major advantage in increasing your chances of obtaining a fair and good judgment.

Among the most common charges filed against citizens is driving under the influence or commonly known as DUI. By hiring an expert Berkeley County DUI Lawyer, your rights are better protected during prosecution and you can obtain better support with the issue regarding suspension of your license.

2. Know more about the lawyer
Upon visiting websites of Berkeley County criminal defense lawyers, you can find a portion for live chats. Opening the site and going for live chats can help you know more about your case, including charges, expenses and other essential matters. Live chats can also help you determine whether the lawyer can be someone you can work with for the settlement of your case or not.
Lawyer’s websites also provide pages for client testimonials. Taking some time to read these pages can help you know more about the lawyer and whether you should hire him or not.

Benefits of Hiring a Good Criminal Defense Attorney Berkeley County

Finding a good lawyer is a must for the following reasons:

1. Effective representation
A lawyer serves as a client’s spokesperson in court. This means that your lawyer speaks on your behalf when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It is very important for you to hire a criminal lawyer you trust for effective representation. By having a good relationship with your lawyer, your voice can be heard more effectively in court.

2. Protection of rights
As an accused in a criminal prosecution, you are afforded constitutional rights which must be protected at all times. With the help of a good criminal defense lawyer, you can be assured of a sufficient protection and support.

3. Long-term relationship
Working with a good Berkeley County criminal defense lawyer helps establish a relationship that can last for a very long time. With a good working relationship, you can always have an advocate in the halls of justice.

There’s no better person who can help you fight for your rights under the law than a good criminal defense attorney Berkeley County. Find one today.

Gun Laws In South Carolina

Gun laws in South Carolina can be confusing.  I get frequent questions from friends and family about them so I’m going to explain them as best as I can in this blog.  Violations of gun laws, even innocent ones, can bring hefty fines, confiscation of the gun, jail time and a blemish on you record.  Because each state has different gun laws, when you travel between states, it is hard to know what is legal and what is not.  It should be noted that no other states recognize the South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) so when traveling to other states you need to be aware of the local rules.  The purpose of this post is to assist South Carolina Residents or people who are passing through our beautiful state in better understanding the laws so that they don’t fall on the wrong side of the law unintentionally.  Ignorance is not a defense!  It should be noted that there are many exceptions for law enforcement officers, constables, gun dealers, off duty and reserve police officers and various others.

 

Who Is Prohibited From Possesing A Firearm In South Carolina?

  • People who felons, a violent crime, criminal domestic violence, or under a domestic order of protection, also known as a restraining order, by Family Court, are all forbidden from possessing a firearm or ammunition at any time. 
  • Drug addicts or users, illegal aliens, a veteran who has a dishonorable discharge, an alien under a non-immigrant visa, or a fugitive from justice may not possess a firearm or ammunition at any time. 
  • Even if you have not been convicted of a felony but are awaiting trial for felony charges you may not possess a firearm.
  • If you have a domestic order of protection and it expires, you may be able to get your gun rights back.  If you are convicted of criminal domestic violence but it has been expunged, you may be able to get your gun rights back. 

I Don’t Have A CWP, Where Can I Carry My Handgun In My Car?

This is a question that we get asked frequently so I will try to lay out the rules in a clear manner.  You may carry a handgun in your vehicle if it is secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and being transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle.  The exception to this is that you cannot bring the gun to a school or college.

The term internal fastener creates some ambiguity and it is somewhat unclear what the South Carolina legislature meant when they used that term.  To be safe, we suggest that if you are using a container to transport a handgun that it is something lockable with either a snap or latch.  This means a shoebox or a backpack won’t qualify. 

“Luggage compartment” also causes some ambiguity, but the law provides a definition.  It means that the trunk if the car has a trunk.  If the car doesn’t have a trunk, like a station wagon or a sports car with a hatch, it means “the area of the motor vehicle in which the manufacturer designed that luggage be carried or to the area of the motor vehicle in which luggage is customarily carried.”  In a station wagon, van, or SUV the term “luggage compartment” would be the area behind, but not under, the rearmost seat.  In a truck, the luggage compartment would be the area behind the rearmost seat but not under the front seat. 

Motorcycle riders must secure the handgun in a closed saddlebag or another similar closed accessory container. 

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you allowed to carry the gun under your seat, in your pocket, on the floor, or anywhere not specifically mentioned above. 

I Have a CWP, Where Can I Carry In My Car?

All the above mentioned places in the previous answer as well as “on your person.”  This term is vague.  To be safe, we recommend that that you carry it holstered and concealed on your person.  While we would argue that under the driver’s seat or between the seat and console would suffice if you had a CWP, this falls into a gray area of the law which may be construed by the police as a violation of the law.   

Where Can A Concealed Weapons Holder Walk Around With A Gun In South Carolina?

It is actually easier to explain where the CWP holder cannot carry a handgun in South Carolina.  Everywhere else is okay, as long as it is CONCEALED.  Unlike some states, South Carolina is not an “open carry” state.  The gun must be concealed and the holder must have a CWP.  The CWP holder can carry the gun everywhere except the following places:

  • Police stations, Sheriff’s departments, jails or prisons or other law enforcement facilities.
  • Restaurants that serve alcohol by the glass UNLESS you are not drinking
  • Courthouses and courtrooms
  • Polling places on election days
  • School or college athletic events not related to firearms
  • Offices or meeting places of government entities
  • Daycares and preschools
  • Places where firearms are prohibited by federal laws
  • Churches or religious sanctuaries unless permission is given by the head of the facility
  • Hospitals, medical clinics, doctor’s offices or other places where medical services are rendered unless given permission by the head of the facility
  • Homes, apartments, or other dwellings unless you have the express permission of the person living at the residence
  • Business or other establishments that post “No Concealed Weapons Allowed” signs or that otherwise express that they do not want concealed weapons on their premises 
  • If you do bring a gun to a school or a college of any kind, don’t carry the gun on you.  It must be in the closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle
  • Homes, apartments, or other dwellings unless you have the express permission of the person living at the residence
  • Any person may carry a concealed weapon from their automobile to a hotel room that he has rented

What about my business?

If you are a business owner or the person who is in control of the business, you may carry a handgun at your business.  If you are an employee, you may ONLY do so if you have a concealed weapons permit AND you have permission of the owner. 

How to keep concealed weapons out of my business?

To keep out concealed weapons you must post a sign that is clearly visible from the outside of the building.  It must be at least eight inches wide and at least twelve inches tall.  It must state “NO CONCEALED WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black, one-inch tall all capital letters at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign.  It also must have a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle.  It must be placed between forty and sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.  If the place does not have the doors, then check with a lawyer to make sure the size and other requirements are met. 

Hunting in South Carolina

Hunters and fisherman who are hunting or fishing or going to or from their places of hunting or fishing, while in a vehicle or on foot, are allowed to carry a handgun. 

Selling a handgun in South Carolina

You cannot sell, offer to sell, deliver, lease, barter, rent, exchange, or transport for sale into this State any handgun to people convicted of violent crimes, fugitives from justice, habitual drunkards, drug addicts, or people who have been adjudicated incompetent, a person who is a member of a subversive organization, people under the age of eighteen (with certain exceptions including members of the Armed Forces or R.O.T.C.), people who have been adjudicated unfit to possess or carry a firearm by order of a circuit judge or county court judge, and illegal aliens.  It is also illegal for those mentioned above to carry or possess a hand gun. 

Finally, if the serial number has been removed or obliterated, you can’t buy, sell, own, or carry the handgun, and you should probably contact an attorney to decide on how to dispose of it. 

If you are selling a handgun, it is recommended to hire an attorney to draft a bill of sale so that the transfer is documented.  This protects you as the seller if the gun is used in a crime down the road.  This allows you to show that the gun legally left your possession and went to someone else. 

Other Weapon Crimes in South Carolina   

There are numerous weapons laws in South Carolina, and if you have any specific questions, you should always consult with an attorney.  Some of the more common offenses dealing with weapons are: You can’t own or possess an automatic weapon, sawed off shot gun, short barreled rifle with out a Class III weapons permit from the ATF.  You can’t bring to school any weapons which include knives with more than a two inch blade, a black jack, a metal pipe or pole, firearms, or any other type of weapon, device, or object which may be used to inflict bodily injury or death.  The exception is that a concealed weapons permit holder may carry the weapons inside an attended or locked vehicle and is secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle. 

Also, you cannot point a firearm at another person, fire into a building or any structure that could be occupied by people, or at a car, boat, or aircraft. 

Do Other States Recognize South Carolina CWP’s and Vice Versa?

Reciprocity means there is an agreement between states to recognize each other’s laws.  South Carolina has reciprocity with certain states regarding concealed weapons permits.  This means that if you hold a CWP in South Carolina, various other states will recognize it, but you still must comply with the state’s laws while you are in that state.  The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has a list of states that have reciprocity with South Carolina.  The states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho (Enhanced only), Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

General Thoughts On Handgun Laws in South Carolina

Many South Carolinians own guns and use them for recreation, hunting, self defense and many other fun and lawful purposes.  If you are a gun owner or you are thinking about buying your first gun, you should familiarize yourself with the laws in South Carolina so that you don’t get caught unknowingly violation a law.  Concealed weapons permit classes required to obtain a CWP in South Carolina give a brief overview of the laws in our state and we encourage everybody to take the class and obtain his CWP.  Practice common sense when dealing with any firearms and as always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact Thrower & Schwartz. 

This article is written as a brief overview of gun laws in South Carolina.  It doesn’t address every law nor does it address any specific legal situation or crime.  If you have specific questions regarding guns, carrying a gun, CWP, selling a gun or you have been charged with a gun crime, call the attorneys at Thrower & Schwartz to discuss your rights and options. 

 

 

 

   

Top Tips From Charleston DUI Lawyer Ryan Schwartz

Driving under the Influence, also known as DUI, is an offense that occurs when a driver operates a motorized vehicle (car, truck, boat, or motorcycle) with a breath alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher or if the motorist is under the influence of alcohol, chemical or controlled substances to the extent that his normal abilities to operate a motor vehicle are impaired. A DUI in Charleston can even occur when a driver takes some types of medicines that affect how he operates a motor vehicle.

DUI First is charged as a misdemeanor, but in some instances, the accused driver may face felony charges. When a driver is charged with felony DUI, it may be due to previous DUI-related arrests and convictions. DUI can become a Felony DUI when an accused driver injures or kills someone in a DUI-related car accident. Felony DUI comes with serious fines as well as jail time.

Being charged or arrested with a DUI of any type is a serious situation that will demand much attention from a professional and knowledgeable DUI attorney. Thrower & Schwartz are prepared to take your case, be it a DUI 1st all the way to a Felony DUI. Many times a DUI case involves field sobriety tests, breath tests or blood tests. DUI cases can be highly technical with many legal requirements that an officer must follow in each and every DUI stop/arrest. It takes an experienced DUI lawyer to know all the ins and outs of the law and how to best use them to your advantage. Thrower & Schwartz will thoroughly investigate your case to make sure that the police property administered these tests by the rules and guide you through the process, making sure you understand both your rights and your options.

Our Goal is to pursue a complete dismissal of criminal charges when the client has been falsely arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our firm strives to provide ethical and reliable representation to each of our clients. Attorneys Bill Thrower and Ryan Schwartz handle each case with the intensity and professionalism.

DUI convictions can lead to significant and damaging penalties that can haunt you later in life. Not only can you lose your license but you could face substantial fines, significant jail time, a criminal record and increased insurance rates or even lose your job. You must find a lawyer who you can trust to protect your best interest with a skilled defense and representation.

If you are facing a DUI charge in any of the Lowcountry areas such as Charleston, Goose Creek, Awendaw, Moncks Corner, Summerville or anywhere else in the Lowcounty then it is important to contact our office for a free DUI lawyer consultation and case evaluation so that we can closely examine your situation to see the best options for assisting you. Thrower & Schwartz have experience with everything from first time DUIs to multiple DUIs. A drunk driving charge can affect you and your family for years to come, it is important that you have an effective lawyer to defend your case.

The 3 Categories of South Carolina Drug Offenses / Crimes

Drug offenses are probably the most commonly prosecuted charges in the Lowcountry. A drug, per South Carolina law, is any substance classified in Schedules 1-V. Not all drug offenses are the same, however, and the punishment for different charges ranges from fines to lengthy prison sentences, depending on several factors. In South Carolina, drug charges are also enhanceable. This means that an accused may face harsher penalties if they are caught a second or more times with drugs. Depending on the prior history of an accused, charges can vary. Drug charges fall into three categories: Simple Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) and trafficking.

Simple possession is not always so simple. Being in possession of a quantity of a substance listed in one of the Schedules I-V without a valid prescription is a crime in South Carolina. A crime of simple possession carries a penalty of up to thirty days in jail for a first offense with less than an ounce, or 28 grams, of marijuana up to ten years for a third offense of possession of less than a gram of cocaine. These offenses carry varying fines that substantially increase with subsequent convictions and could stay on your criminal record forever if convicted of certain offenses.

Another issues to look out for with simple possession charges is if you are visiting our beautiful state and are charged with simple possession. States such as Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania to name a few will take away your driver’s license for certain drug convictions. It is absolutely important that if you are an out of state resident on vacation or passing through South Carolina that you hire an attorney if you are charged with a drug crime. Failure to protect your rights could have grave consequences in your home state. The last thing you want to happen is to be found guilty of simple possession in South Carolina only to find out that you will be losing your license to drive in your home state. Drug convictions can also affect your ability to get federal school loans, affect your professional licenses and other unintended consequences for what seems like a minor charge. Before you go it alone, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Thrower & Schwartz for a free case consultation to protect your rights.

Manufacturing, distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) carry higher penalties than simply possessing drugs. You can be charged with PWID even if you don’t have more than an ounce of marijuana on you if you are caught with the drugs bagged in individual baggies or with other paraphernalia that lends the law to believe you are possessing the drugs with the intent to sell them. Manufacturing, distribution and possession with intent to distribute can carry signification jail time and heavy fines. If you have been charged with PWID or distribution or manufacturing call Thrower & Schwartz for a free criminal lawyer consultation to discuss your options and rights.

Trafficking is a charge that is based on the total amount of drugs that are confiscated. A trafficking charge often carries significant jail time, many times with a mandatory minimum jail sentence if convicted. A conviction for trafficking drugs may constitute what is known as a “strike” and can lead to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.