Reckless Driving

The winter weather swept the coast recently, snow accumulations ranged from 1.5 inches to 2 inches of snow in the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee areas. I am not at all familiar with snow and I realized last night just how difficult it is to drive while it is snowing.  The forecast shows the cold temperatures are to continue this week and there is a chance of snowfall as well. The conditions on the road will be wet and visibility may be impaired due to the weather as well. Along with the chilly conditions, the tourist season is quickly approaching and law enforcement is letting their presence be known along the Grand Strand and surrounding areas.

Your cautious driving may alert law enforcement and you could be pulled over. The police might mistakenly charge you with reckless driving. Most states carry reckless driving charges that prohibit a driver from operating a vehicle in a manner that shows a reckless disregard for the safety of others. The South Carolina statute specifically provides, that “any person who drives a vehicle in such a manner as to indicate a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Examples of reckless driving may include: swerving on the roadways, traveling over the posted speed limit, and crossing a double yellow line to pass another vehicle.

The offense of reckless driving requires the conscious failure to exercise due care. The burden is on the state to prove you possessed the requisite intent to be convicted of this traffic offense. Consider, where a motorist passes a school bus without stopping but he does so ignorantly or unthinkingly. The motorist does in fact drive slowly while looking out for school children. In this example, the motorist could not be charged with reckless driving. Consider, instead, a motorist who continues to drive consciously disregarding the fact that is sleepy and cannot keep his eyes open while driving. This motorist has shown a reckless disregard for the safety of others and therefore, can be guilty of reckless driving.

If you find yourself facing reckless driving charges, contact your local attorney Daniel Selwa today. You could be innocent of the charges if the police officer was mistaken or there may be another legal defense that justifies your conduct.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Driver License, SC DMV, Traffic Tickets | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burglary in Myrtle Beach

Burglary is not an uncommon occurrence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Check out this recent WMBF news article involving two men in the local area facing multiple counts of burglary charges: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/21087009/2-men-charged-for-several-burglaries-in-murrells-inlet. Are you facing burglary charges? Burglary is a felony charge and could carry a life imprisonment sentence. It is critical that you don’t sleep on your rights, and you contact Daniel Selwa right away to discuss your case if you have been charged with any degree of Burglary.

At common law, burglary is defined as the breaking and entering of the dwelling of another at nighttime with the intent to commit a felony therein. However, many states have modified the common law definition so that the breaking and entering includes businesses as well as dwellings and most states have eliminated the nighttime requirement. South Carolina in particular does not require that the crime of burglary be committed in the nighttime. In order to be convicted of the crime of burglary, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  If your defense attorney can raise the slightest bit of doubt, then the jury is likely to acquit.

Burglary is a specific intent crime, which means you must have intended to commit a crime upon the breaking and entering of the premises. Therefore, the burden will be on the prosecution to prove you possessed the requisite mental state when you committed the crime. Specific intent crimes carry additional defenses that general intent crimes do not and one of particular importance is voluntary intoxication. Voluntary intoxication is a defense because your intoxicated state may have affected your decision and thus, it may negate the element of crime for the crime of burglary. Another defense specific to this crime involves consent, if the defense can show you had consent to enter a dwelling or business, then that can negate the element of a breaking. Other potential defenses include insanity, and entrapment.

Your best course of action when facing burglary charges is to consult with attorney Daniel Selwa. A defense attorney will be able to anticipate what the prosecution will argue and from there, the defense attorney will be able to discuss with you, your best defenses to beat the prosecution’s argument. Remember that this offense is a felony and can carry a life imprisonment sentence. Don’t wait another minute and call Daniel Selwa today.

Categories: Burglary, Criminal Defense | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Legal Process of DUIs

superbowlThis NFL season was full of surprises ranging from the referee lockout to rookie talents like Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III, to quarterback changes like Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. What did you do celebrate the end of this NFL season along with Superbowl XLVII? In the Myrtle Beach Area, a lot of local bars advertised their Superbowl specials like Louie’s at Broadway at the Beach. Did you go out and partake in the Superbowl activities at a hot local spot? Hopefully, if you did, you made to it to the bar and home safely without any negative encounters with law enforcement. But if you didn’t, your local attorney Daniel Selwa is here to help you.

As you may know, a traffic stops begins with law enforcement’s reasonable suspicion that a law has been or is being violated. If the police officer stops based on reasonable suspicion that a person is driving under the influence, he will likely conduct a field sobriety test. For more information about the basics of a DUI, visit my earlier blog entry: https://sclawyersnet.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/arresting-officer-how-much-have-you-had-to-drink-tonight/.

But what happens after you are arrested on DUI charges? After the arrest, you are usually taken to the police station and booked. Booking includes the process where law enforcement takes your personal information, your photograph, your fingerprints, information relating to the arrest and other pertinent information.  After the booking, you will likely be placed in a holding cell or jail. Then, you will be given a pre-arraignment release through a bail proceeding. The bail proceeding allows the DUI suspect to post money in exchange for his release on the condition that you will attend all upcoming court proceedings regarding your case.

After the arrest, the booking, and the bail proceedings, arraignment takes place.  During arraignment (only applicable to 2nd offenses and above), you will be placed in front of a criminal court judge and you will be confronted with the charges against you and advised of your right to an attorney. During this stage, you may choose to plead guilty to the charges and at that point the proceedings will cease. But, you might choose to plead not guilty if the evidence against you is weak and you have a viable defense. It is also possible at this stage that a plea bargain may be available that would be favorable. Attorney Daniel Selwa can help you determine whether it is in your best interests to plead guilty or not guilty at this stage and whether you should pursue defending against the charges further.

As you can see, the legal process can be a lengthy process, but with an attorney, the legal process may end rather quickly with a positive result for you. Imagine only having to serve probation time when you were facing prison time or imagine the DUI charges being dropped against you completely.  You might wonder what if you don’t take advantage of your constitutional right to counsel, don’t wonder what if, and speak to Daniel Selwa today.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, Traffic Tickets | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Assault and Battery

Were you involved in a fight and subsequently charged with assault or battery? Perhaps you were fighting in self-defense or fighting in order to protect another from harm.  For example, perhaps a stranger approached you, started shouting obscenities at you and threatening to use force against you while shaking his fists. You were cornered and in your escape, you hit the stranger in order to get by him. In this example, you were acting in self-defense. On the other hand, perhaps you were walking out of a bar and saw your friend in a struggle with a stranger. The fight was quickly escalating and when you saw the stranger pull out a knife, you lunged at the stranger and made physical contact in order to pull the knife away from the stranger. In this example, you were acting in the defense of another.

Assault and battery are perhaps two of the most recognized criminal offenses and often the two are linked together. Assaults and batteries frequently take place in bars or nightclubs. But, there is a key difference between assault and battery: assault involves the apprehension of an immediate physical contact while battery involves the actual physical contact. Generally, assault is defined as the creation of an immediate apprehension in the mind of another by a wrongdoer.  Battery is generally defined as the unlawful application of force to another.

Punishment for the criminal offenses of assault and battery can carry fines and/or imprisonment. You may also have to pay damages to the other party if you are found guilty of assault or battery. The penalties for such crimes depend upon the severity of the act, the person injured, the criminal record of the offender, and whether a weapon was involved.

In a crowded nightclub, one could easily become involved in a bar fight. But the criminal offenses of assault and battery can occur anywhere. You could find yourself in a situation involving assault or battery while you are walking home from work or even where you are sitting on a park bench waiting for a ride. No matter where you are, just remember Daniel Selwa. Daniel Selwa is a local criminal defense attorney who has a lot of experience fighting assault and battery charges and successfully winning those cases.  Contact him today for a consultation.

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Do you need a lawyer?

Often times, people are unsure or nervous about contacting an attorney. More times than not, people think that attorneys aren’t approachable. It’s easy to forget that attorneys are people just like you, they engage in the practice of law to pursue their lifelong passion and support their families. The media has a lot to do with how attorneys are portrayed and since they do indeed have such a big role in our society, they are often talked about in news coverage or shown as characters in television shows.

But, I am here to tell you, most attorneys pursue law because they want to make a difference in the area of law and they truly do care about their clients. The practice of law isn’t something you can just pick up and do, it requires an undergraduate degree, a juris doctorate degree and admission to a state bar. The necessary school and training on average takes about 7-8 years. That’s a lot of time to dedicate to something if you aren’t really in it for the right reasons.

Most importantly when evaluating whether or not you should hire an attorney and who that attorney should be, make the decision that feels best to you. Trust your gut. There are varying levels of competent attorneys just as in any profession. Some attorneys are just in it for the money, some are in it for themselves, and others are in it to help others. Talk with several attorneys and make an informed decision.

I found a great article that covers a lot of the basics about attorneys. It discusses what attorneys do, yes it’s true, they don’t just represent clients in the courtroom and it also discusses the qualifications a attorney must possess in order to practice law. For more information about attorneys go to: http://hirealawyer.findlaw.com/do-you-need-a-lawyer/lawyer-faqs.html

I hope you will feel more comfortable about contacting an attorney after reading this entry as well as reviewing the link posted above. Attorneys take an oath to support the Constitution and the Constitution guarantees you your rights. Attorney Daniel Selwa is committed to the practice of law and he will do whatever he can to help you win your case. Daniel Selwa practices all over Horry County and will be happy to speak with you today.

Categories: Attorneys | Tags: | 1 Comment

Be careful what you write! How a Facebook Post could lead to Charges against you.

Recently, an Oregon teen by the name of Jacob Cox-Brown posted an incriminating statement on Facebook. His Facebook post read: “Drivin drunk…classic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle I hit I am sorry :P.” There is an important lesson to be learned here, and that is, to think twice before you write something down, whether it be on paper or on the internet via a social media website like Facebook.

This young man is facing two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver due to his comments on Facebook. He might have escaped punishment had he not admitted to his actions online. Perhaps instead, he said nothing at all. Imagine, he had just told someone he was involved in a hit and run instead of writing his confession down. It is much harder to prove that someone is guilty of a crime based on what they said to another person. The case would have been much harder to follow up on based upon the statement of another person. But, in this case, the Facebook post gave the police a legitimate lead because it came directly from the teen himself and it wasn’t long before they discovered the damage on the suspect’s car matched the damage to the victim’s car. Although there may still be evidence against him without his confession on Facebook, there would be less, which could mean the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict.

The details about the case against Jacob Cox-Brown can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/jacob-cox-brown-facebook-post-drunk-driving_n_2410163.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing6%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk1%26pLid%3D253245

Likewise, many are communicating via web services such as Facebook and Twitter; more so than they are communicating in person. This has made it so much easier to have an action filed against you for something you said that was defamatory about another person. If you watch court TV shows at all, like Judge Mathis or Judge Judy, you have probably heard a defamation action. In order to be successful in a defamation suit, one must show that the communication is a defamatory statement which is typically an untrue, derogatory statement and essentially damaged to your reputation  In most defamation case, you must prove actual damage. This tort cause of action is a heavily litigated cause of action in the civil litigation arena. Now, much of this is due to popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

So, as you can see, your written comments whether it is regarding a crime you were involved in or whether it is about someone you don’t like, can be used against you in a court of law. If you are facing a criminal or civil lawsuit due to your comments that were posted on Facebook or Twitter, you will want to contact an attorney immediately to discuss your defenses. Contact Myrtle Beach attorney Daniel Selwa today.

Categories: Civil Litigation, Criminal Defense, Defamation | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

What to do if you are involved in an automobile accident

One week before the South Carolina Bar Exam, my friend was struck by another car driven by a drunk driver. At the time of the accident, the roads were very wet due to the steady flow of rain. She told me how the impact of the hit and the slippery roads caused her car to slide several feet. A sense of panic and fear overwhelmed her as her car slid closer and closer to oncoming traffic. The sense of relief was even greater when finally; her car came to a halt. Soon after, she pulled over and so did the other car that struck her. The woman driving the car that hit my friend stumbled out of her vehicle.  Unsteady and shaky, my friend went on to tell me that she dialed the police immediately. The woman proceeded to plead with her to let her pay and leave. Quickly, my friend became aware that there was a strong possibility the woman might flee the scene of the accident. As she was talking to the police on the phone, she had the forsight to take down her tag number and noted the make and model of her car. So what was the outcome? Long story short, she didn’t flee, the police showed up, wrote a police report, searched her vehicle and arrested her.

Based on my experience and the law, I want to give you some advice regarding what you should do if you are involved in a car accident. First and foremost, don’t leave the scene of the accident. You can face criminal punishment for leaving the scene of an accident, particularly where injury is involved. Note, however, if you are involved in a car accident and you are in a remote area, proceed cautiously. It may be best to drive to the closest police station or public area to call the police.

Next, make sure to check on all the drivers and passengers. If someone is injured or trapped in a vehicle, you want to call for medical attention immediately. If everyone is okay, call the police.  It is important to obtain a police report of the accident so that if you have to be appear in Court, you have proofof the accident. It would also be wise to exchange information from the other driver and passengers involved in the accident. But, when conversing with the driver and passengers, be sure not to say too much. You don’t want to apologize for anything, if you do, that information could be used against in a Court of law.

Pictures, pictures, pictures! If you are able, take pictures of the damage at the scene of the accident. These pictures can serve as significant proof of who was at fault in the accident and how the injured party should be compensated.

When a police report is filed, insurance companies are usually contacted immediately. If you are the at fault driver, consult an attorney before you contact your insurance company or provide statements to any other insurance company.  Likewise, if you are not the at-fault driver, it would be advisable to contact an attorney to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.  Remember one thing, whether your interest in this information is for criminal defense purposes or for personal injury purposes: Insurance companies are in business to make money, not help people.  Money is priority number one.

If you are injured in the automobile accident, it is extremely important to keep track of your medical treatment. You should keep a diary containing notes of all your doctors’ visits and referrals. You should also keep an itemized list of all the medical expenses you have incurred.

Lastly, don’t give up. Law enforcement and insurance companies alike may give you a hard time in pursuing your case. But, remember, you do have a case, if your property or person was injured at the hands of another or if you are being charged with a criminal driving offense, Daniel Selwa will work hard to help you.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Insurance Companies, Personal Injury | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intoxication Manslaughter: Dallas Cowboys

There are almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving every day.  Every day in ImageAmerica, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. Interestingly enough, in those fatal drunk-driving accidents, the driver often survives while accompanying passengers do not. But still, there are circumstances in which people do survive these horrific accidents but they survive with life altering injuries sustained from the accident. If the driver survives, he has to live with the guilt and pain caused by his actions of getting behind the wheel after drinking. In addition, the driver has to face the criminal law system for his actions, his actions could lead to suspension of his driver’s license, probation, community service, and worst of all, significant jail time.  The drunk driver who causes death to another will most likely face involuntary manslaughter charges and all of the above criminal law penalties could result if he is convicted

The most common charge for death resulting from a drunk driving accident is felony DUI, however sometimes jurisdictions at the behest of that jurisdiction’s prosecutor can charge involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another without malice aforethought. Malice aforethought means the actor did not intentionally cause harm to another but the harm resulted from his recklessness or negligence. The state of South Carolina may charge you with the equivalent of involuntary manslaughter and that is reckless homicide.  The elements of the crime are basically the same; it is defined as the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others that results in the death of the victim. This is a felony and penalties could reach up to 10 years of jail time, fines of up to $5,000 as well as a revocation of one’s driver’s license for 5 years.

You might remember the Nick Hogan case; Nick Hogan was 20 years old when he was involved in a drunk driving accident that nearly killed his best friend John Graziano. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and his best friend was riding without his seatbelt as a passenger in Nick’s car. Subsequently, Nick was charged with reckless driving involving serious bodily injury amongst other charges. After serving just under six months in jail for his crime, Nick was released early for good behavior. But, Nick must still serve out his 5 years of probation and 500 community service hours. The accident left John Graziano, a war veteran, in a semi conscious state. John Graziano will require around the clock care for the rest of his life. Perhaps equally as sad, Nick Hogan must live with the pain and guilt for the rest of his life. In an interview, following his release from prison, Nick tells Good Morning America that “some mornings it is hard for him to wake up” and “it’s hard to be positive every day when there’s something so horribly devastating.”

Today, America mourns the loss of Jerry Brown, a Dallas Cowboys practice squad linebacker. He was tragically killed on Saturday morning around 2:00am when the vehicle he was riding in hit a curb and flipped at least once. Teammate Josh Brent was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred.  Josh Brent was intoxicated at the time of the accident and this wasn’t his first run in with the law involving drunk driving. Josh Brent is being charged with intoxication manslaughter. Josh Brent recently released a statement saying, “I am devastated and filled with grief.” He further commented by saying, “I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life.”

It seems apparent that both Nick Hogan and Josh Brent did not mean to cause any harm to their friends that were injured or killed in these accidents. Both of these drivers undoubtedly could have afforded a cab ride or even a limo ride. But, both of these drivers made the unfortunate and heartbreaking mistake to get behind the wheel and drive while intoxicated. Sadly, it happens all too often, and plenty of Americans are guilty of making this mistake at one point in their lives. It’s not to say it makes you a bad person, but that decision to drive while intoxicated could change your life. If you have made the same mistake, as did Nick Hogan and Josh Brent, you need a compassionate lawyer who will understand the unfortunate result of the accident. Daniel Selwa is an experienced criminal law attorney who is not only compassionate but also well equipped to handle your DUI case involving serious bodily injury to another. Contact Daniel Selwa today for your free consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI, Wrongful Death | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Open Container Laws in SC

ImageCheers! It’s the weekend and your weekend plans include alcohol and a night out on the town. The pregame party has begun, the music is bumping, the liquor is flowing and everyone is drinking but the designated driver. Ya’ll do the responsible thing by designating a sober driver for the night, but, there’s a catch, ya’ll also decide to drink in the car on the way to your local hotspot. You and all your friends figure that as long as the driver isn’t drinking and driving, all the passengers can drink in the car. You are the driver and the passengers in your car include two of your friends that are both 23 years old as well as another one of your friends who is 20 years old.

Although it is a smart decision to designate a sober driver, it is not a smart decision to drink alcohol in a moving vehicle because of open container laws. South Carolina law prohibits having an open container of beer, wine, or liquor in a moving vehicle of any kind except in the trunk or luggage compartment. A person who violates the open container law in South Carolina will face fines and may also face imprisonment. The passengers as well as the driver can face punishment for their violation of this law.

Furthermore, since one of the passengers is under the legal age to consume alcohol, the other passengers as well as the driver can face punishment for serving alcohol to a minor. The punishment for this crime will include fines and may include imprisonment as well.

There are always exceptions to the rule, which means, you may have a valid excuse under the law that will allow you to escape punishment. But, there are few exceptions, so the best way to protect yourself is to follow the black letter law. However, if you feel law enforcement has unfairly targeted you and has cited you for any crime you have not committed, or if you feel you have a valid excuse that justifies your behavior, contact attorney Daniel Selwa.

Have a great, safe weekend.

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Traffic Ticket Consequences

Remember that heart pounding feeling you experienced when you saw the blue lights rapidly approaching your vehicle?  Chances are, most everyone you know has experienced this same feeling. More than 90% of people over the age of 16 are licensed to drive which means millions of traffic citations are issued each year. Traffic laws and regulations were put into effect in the early 1920s with the goal of protecting you and your loved ones on the roadways. Research has shown that most people obey traffic laws because they do not want to run the risk of receiving a traffic citation. Although most people obey traffic laws, there are always slip ups where someone loses focus and accidentally makes a left hand turn without a blinker, or even intentional acts where someone runs a red light because they think they can go unnoticed by law enforcement.

Most traffic tickets are issued for “strict liability offenses”, which means no particular criminal intent is needed to convict a person of the offense. Examples of strict liability offenses include: speeding, failure to yield, failure to use turn signals, turning into a wrong lane and driving a vehicle with burned out headlights or taillights. Most traffic tickets are also considered minor infractions and as such are handled in the lower courts. However, traffic tickets that involve injury to a person or a person’s property often do go through the criminal court system and allow the defendant to hire an attorney if she so chooses. Examples of traffic tickets that carry felony punishment include: a hit and run accident, driving under the influence of alcohol, and failure to stop a vehicle when signaled by law enforcement.

Traffic tickets can carry consequences including: license suspension, car insurance increases, fines, and even jail time.  You can face license suspension where you have received multiple traffic tickets or where your offense was accompanied by bodily injury to another or involved drunk driving. Your attorney could present evidence that shows you have taken corrective measures such as taking a safe driving class or attending alcoholic anonymous meetings to address your behavior. If the judge is convinced he could opt not to suspend your license. The crime of a hit and run can carry jail time ranging from 30 days to 25 years depending on whether minor injury, serious injury or death results from the hit and run. You are entitled to put on a defense to explain your actions. Your defense could mean the difference between fines and jail time. For every traffic citation you receive, you receive points that reflect negatively on your driving record. In turn, the points could lead to higher insurance premiums. By hiring an attorney, you may be able to avoid points and higher insurance premiums.

Even careful safe drivers can make a mistake and receive a traffic ticket as a consequence. Contact attorney Daniel Selwa to assess your case and fight your traffic ticket.

Categories: Criminal Defense, Driver License, DUI, Points Suspension, Traffic Tickets | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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