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Greenville Criminal Law Law Blog

South Carolina Amtrak crash appears to be human error

Two crewmembers died and 116 passengers and crew were injured in a tragic train accident in South Carolina on Sunday, Feb. 4. An Amtrak train ended up on the wrong track and crashed head-on into a parked CSX freight train.

The precise chain of events is under investigation. But an official from the National Transportation Safety Board said that available technology could have prevented this. "Positive train control" can spot problems ahead and slow or stop trains.

The consequences of underage DUI are harsh and long-lasting

Jail or loss of driving privileges may not even be the worst part of a DUI conviction. The long-term aftermath can be just as devastating.

This is especially true for students and young adults. A DUI on a young person’s record can affect their college plans and future employment, as well as their finances and social standing. It is critical to avoid a conviction if at all possible.

How are federal criminal charges different?

Criminal prosecutions can be brought in state or federal court. What is the difference between a state crime and a federal crime? What triggers federal charges? Is federal court any different than state court?

Yes, there are important differences. Federal crimes are almost always felony charges, with potentially tougher punishments. Federal court operates under different procedures, from rules of evidence to sentencing. If you are suspected of a federal offense, make sure your lawyer is experienced in that arena.

Oh, man. Even the computers are racist?

Recently we wrote about racial bias in plea bargains. For the same crime with no prior convictions, researchers found that white defendants, on average, had better outcomes than their black counterparts. (You get probation, but you go to jail.)

Along those lines, criminal justice gurus have tried to remove racial bias by taking humans out of the equation. They created computer algorithms to predict which defendants would re-offend. Judges could use that impartial score to give a fair sentence. But it turns out the computers may be just as racially biased – and sometimes more so.

When does theft become a felony in South Carolina?

Most states set a certain dollar amount to differentiate between misdemeanor theft and felony theft. South Carolina has one of the highest thresholds in the nation for grand larceny (felony) charges. This prevents filling our prisons with low-level offenders and people who steal to feed drug addictions.

However, any theft charges can lead to jail time, fines and restitution. Perhaps worse than the criminal punishment, a theft conviction can be a lifelong barrier to college and employment opportunities, housing or lending, even volunteering.

Are cellphones fair game for law enforcement?

Mobile phones were once the exclusive domain of business moguls. Today, even 10-year-old kids have cellphones. Increasingly, law enforcement is using that fact to track the whereabouts of suspects and obtain data about private communications.

But civil rights defenders and criminal defense lawyers are pushing back. In particular, they are challenging the use of cell tower simulators as warrantless searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has just taken up a related cellphone case that may have broad implications for those accused of crimes.

Before you respond to a letter from the IRS …

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a list of helpful tips for taxpayers who receive letters in the mail. Their “don’t panic” reassurances are hardly reassuring. Some of the advice is conflicting.

And one piece of advice is conspicuously missing from “Seven Things To Do When An IRS Letter Arrives.” The list does not suggest that you talk to an attorney. That could be a huge mistake if it turns out the IRS is probing you or your business associates for possible tax fraud.

Black defendants treated unequally in plea bargain process

 Much has been written about racial profiling by police. Much has been written about federal judges giving longer prison terms to minorities. New research shows that African-American defendants also face discrimination at several points between the arrest and sentencing.

The study suggests race plays a role in the severity of charges and what prosecutors offer in plea bargains. On average, white defendants end up with better outcomes, such as less jail time or no jail time. In fact, the disparity is greater for misdemeanor cases than it is for serious felonies. It underlines the need for needed reforms – and a skilled defense lawyer.

Is Your Door Lock Protected By The Fourth Amendment?

Seemingly good detective work sometimes crosses a line. Police must follow leads and clues and hunches to solve crimes, but they also must follow the law.

A federal appeals court recently ruled that police went too far when they inserted a key into a door to determine if their suspect lived there. The government argued that it was a lawful investigative tactic. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that trying the lock was an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment.

Failing To Report Side Income Can Be Prosecuted As Tax Evasion

There is a big difference between iffy tax deductions and failing to tell the IRS about thousands of dollars in income. The shift toward a gig economy – piecing together income from multiple sources – means more people are earning “off-book” money that the government doesn’t know about.

So-called “side hustles” are costing the U.S. Treasury an estimated $216 billion in revenue, according to a recent study. But if the IRS catches on, those citizens may find themselves on the hook for back taxes and steep penalties – and possibly facing federal prosecution for tax evasion.

Awards & Accolades Over my career, I have earned a number of honors reflecting my professionalism and commitment to my clients. These awards include:
  • 10 best 2016 client satisfaction American institute of personal injury attorneys | Ryan L. Beasley Has Been Nominated and Accepted as a 2016 AIOPIA’S 10 Best in South Carolina For Client Satisfaction
  • 10 best 2016 client satisfaction American institute of criminal law attorneys | Ryan L. Beasley Has Been Nominated and Accepted as a 2016 AIOCLA’S 10 Best in South Carolina For Client Satisfaction
  • rated by super lawyers ryan l. beasley superlawyers.com
  • legal elite of the upstate 2013-2015
  • nationally ranked superior dui attorney by the nafdd 2013

    Recognized as one of the top 75 DUI Attorneys in South Carolina by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense, LLC (NAFDD) 2013

  • america's most honored professionals ryan l. beasley
  • greenville business magazine 2015 legal elite of the upstate greenville's top attorneys
    • member of the national trial lawyers top 100 trial lawyers
    • For Ethical Standards & Legal Ability AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell From Lexis Nexis
  • client distinction award
  • Top Young Attorneys 2014 Rising stars selected by peer recognition and professional Achievement
  • national academy of criminal defense attorneys