Assault and Battery in South Carolina

The law has continued to expand on elements of assault and what constitutes criminal charges for bad behavior. If you’ve been handed an assault charge recently, here are some questions you might have and an idea of what you can expect:

What is assault?

Most people think that assault charges only apply to an aggressive person who was willfully and intentionally injured another person. However, assault charges are broadly applied to any type of behavior that may seem threatening to another individual, such as lifting up a fist to attack them and causing them to flinch. Whether or not you actually come into physical contact with that person, if they feared you might have had the intention to harm them, they may bring charges of assault against you. Other types of assault, such as intoxicated assault, can be applied to intoxicated drivers that harmed another person in a car accident. Even though the injury was brought upon by an accident instead of a something like a bar fight, the assault charge is still a felony.

What is assault and battery?

Some states may distinguish between these two charges, but not in South Carolina. Assault and battery is a single charge that can be distinguished as high and aggravated nature, 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree charges, and each one has its own requirements and punishments. 2nd and 3rd degree assault and battery charges are only misdemeanors, while HAN and 1st degree are classified as felonies.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is different than sexual harassment because it includes an element of physical contact, such as unwanted kissing, groping, or any form of sexual activity. However, like other forms of assault, the most important aspect is the perception of the victim. If they feel as though they were placed in a threatening or compromised position where the attacker could have continued with their sexual assault, then physical contact is not necessary to press charges.

Extenuating Circumstances

Assault charges can become complicated, especially when there is a history of conflict between the defendant and the plaintiff. When tempers boil over, things can quickly escalate, leading to a various charges of assault and battery. To address this complexity, the courts assign varying degrees of seriousness to each type of charge. If the assault occurred during another criminal act, such as a robbery, then the charge is much more serious. This is also true for premeditated acts of violence, such as staging an ambush for the victim. Charges that result from an intoxicated fight may be reduced to a lesser sentence if your attorney can prove that the act was a crime of passion. If you were driving a car while intoxicated and caused a serious accident, the charge may be increased to more severe penalty. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult with a legal professional as soon as charges of assault are brought against you. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will help protect your rights.

The Pros and Cons of Oversharing on Social Media

Social media is a great avenue to express yourself through stories and photos. It’s a great way to connect with colleagues and publicize information about good news or ask for support. However, some users and most social media platforms provide the option to “privatize” yourself from certain groups or people in your life. Whenever someone gets is in the middle of a criminal defense case, what role does social media play? Can the information you write online be used against you in a court of law? What role should you take in publicizing or privatizing?

Every year, millions of users share numerous links, photos and articles with the world through popular social media platforms like  Facebook and Instagram. As one would expect, that information can be used against them in a court of law. The evidence may be as simple as a conversation or as complex as a multitude of images and videos of the actual crimes taking place. It is simple for authorities to come across such evidence, and can command the platforms to hand over whatever evidence they have. However, if you are a criminal defendant, it’s a different story.

According to the article on Cal Lawyer, a California lawyer resource website, a defendant looking for information that is saved on social media sites faces a lot of obstacles. The Stored Communications Act has rules for companies like Facebook that keep them from providing the user’s information to others without the owner’s permission. Challenges to this have been brought to California federal courts. Facebook argued that it was unconstitutional and that they were denied the right to confront the witnesses that are being used to corroborate the case. They believed that the stored communications act does not give the defendants access to important information that could help their case. Unfortunately, they did not win their battle in appeals court, which denied the defendants’ argument. Another court case, Number One v. Superior Court, may bring some light on the subject and give criminal defendants hope of obtaining social media information from third parties. Unless a criminal defendant succeeds with a challenge based on Juror Number One’s compelled consent rationale, the plain language of the SCA leaves criminal defendants’ pretrial ability to obtain critical exculpatory social media information in the sole discretion of the government.

It may be safe to privatize your account if you have charges against you or to delete content as soon as possible. It is important to be careful when it comes to what you post on social media. While we are sharing it with others, this information is not entirely publicized and questions the rights of what we put into the virtual world. In most cases, social media posts can frame or injure people by claiming these “drunk photos posted on social media” reflect the person’s declining behavior and reasons why they are irresponsible and guilty. It’s important to be sure you are not oversharing on social media, in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

Leftover Bread Brewed Into Craft Beer?

Craft beer is finding its way into many streets and cities as part of recreational drinking and apartment buildings. Companies like Growler Chill are even helping private residents keep their beer from going bad quickly with personal countertop taps. Festivals now celebrate craft beer festivals and competitions. In the United Kingdom, nearly 1.1 million tons of bread are wasted on an annual basis, which, if stacked together would equal almost three Empire State buildings!  Toast Ale is a new brewery that is looking to end the bread waste by turning the loaves that would have otherwise gone to waste into delicious craft beers. 

According to How Stuff Works, there is approximately one slice of bread in each and every bottle of beer.   Since their launch in the UK in 2016, Toast Ale brewmasters say that they have used 11 tons of bread that would have otherwise been wasted in landfills. This past July, Toast Ale has made the decision to expand to the US where estimates show that nearly 40% of all food that is processed and packaged eventually finds its way to the trash. By next year, Toast Ale will save about 12 tons of bread per year in New York City alone. Their mission is to prevent all food from being wasted, which will be a difficult process.

The team at Toasted Ale found inspiration after a trip to Belgium, where they discovered a beer made from bread, based on a 7,000 year old practice. The idea of using bread that would otherwise be wasted appealed to the team, and they set forth a plan to put in sustainable environmental practices and social solutions to their new beer-making business. They wanted to make sure to put an entire slice of bread in every bottle and also ensure that their product was top-of-the-line when it came to quality. The brewmasters at Babylone (the beer that they discovered in Belgium) quickly agreed to partner with Toast Ale, and they were not afraid to share their recipe with their new partners. The difference between their recipe and normal beer? The bread that is put into the recipe replaces one-third of the malted barley that is usually used in the brewing process.

Because bread can quickly go stale and flour is relatively cheap, bread is often wasted by grocery stores, manufacturers, and consumers. Because day-old bread does not sell and can easily be replaced by a fresh loaf, much of the bread that is baked goes to waste in landfills. Excess bread may go to chickens or the homeless, but it is often wasted and thrown away.

 

While Toast Ale has a great message in mind, I think it helps remind beer enthusiasts to be mindful of what they eat or buy. While it would be near impossible to stop production and demand of bread, Toast Ale would no longer be in business if people wasted less bread. Would this be effective in truly having people be more conscious about their food wastes?

Policy Holders can Legally Hold an Insurance Company Responsible for its Bad-Faith Actions

Policy Holders can Legally Hold an Insurance Company Responsible for its Bad-Faith Actions

Hurricanes are among the most destructive natural calamities in the U.S. These have five different categories, depending on its wind speed; the stronger the wind, the more severe the damage these can cause, and, though no one would want to see the fruits of his/her hard labor damaged or destroyed by anything, when a hurricane strikes, there is no telling what may be affected and how much the damage can be.

Repair or replacement of damaged properties is usually begun after those affected receive the cash benefits from property insurance provider. Insurance firms, on their part, would send independent adjusters to claimants’ homes to assess property damages, sometimes a day or two after the disaster – a time when even property owners will not be able to correctly asses their own losses. Many of these adjusters, however, are new to the job or untrained and already content in making their evaluation of the damages from where they stand on the ground. Thus, it is not surprising that the estimations they come up with are often incorrect: undervalued assessment of damages, which means low amount of financial benefit a property insurance provider will have to pay.

Unknown to policy holders, sending new or untrained adjusters is actually just one of the strategies employed by many insurance firms to save themselves from making big pay-outs. Other insurance providers would even deny claims outrightly, using technical error as the reason for denial of claims. The fact is, this so-called technical error is nothing more than a skipped box or a missed signature.

Insurance providers are legally obliged to provide policy holders genuine commitment or the duty of good faith and fair dealing, especially in paying claims. Under the common law this duty is spoken of as the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” Unfortunately, many providers transact business with dishonesty or fraud at the back of their minds. They enter into an agreement with policy holders with no real intent of living up to the terms of the policy they sell, while others intentionally twist the meaning of what is contained in a policy sold. This fraudulent act is what legal experts call “bad faith,” and there are different tactics employed by insurance firms to commit this act in ways hard to detect, like: failure to investigate a claim promptly and thoroughly, unreasonable denial of claim benefits or delay in the payment of claims, and so forth.

According to Anderson Cooper, the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°, tactics employed by insurance firms may be identified as the three “Ds”: delay, deny and defend. Delay the handling of a claim; deny that a claimant is hurt or show that damages are minor; and, defend their decision even in lengthy court battles.

In certain instances, a claims adjuster would offer as little as $50 dollars. This is based on Insurance firms’ training manual’s instruction to pressure claimants until they accept “smaller walk-away settlements.” The sad thing is, many poor people take the offer rather than get nothing at all. Insurance firms bet that victims will neither wait nor sue, but would rather take whatever they can get and walk-away, not realizing that they are walking away from billions of dollars firm are able to keep for themselves.

According to the law firm Smith Kendall, PLLC, “when an insurance company denies or delays payment of a policyholder’s home or commercial property insurance claim when it knew, or should have known, its liability on the claim was reasonably clear, the carrier may have acted in bad faith. State courts know that a special relationship exists between an insurance company and its clients, and the former’s duty of good faith and fair dealing towards all of its clients. In some states, a policyholder may have both common law (i.e., law created by cases) and statutory (i.e., law from statutes or regulations) bad faith claims.

An experienced and aggressive attorney may be able to help you navigate this challenging area of the law and make sure that the insurance company is held responsible for its bad-faith actions.”

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a Repetitive Motion Injury

If your occupation requires repetitive hand motions, awkward hand positions, strong gripping, vibration, or mechanical stress on the palm, you may be susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Common occupations associated with carpal tunnel include: mechanic, assembly-line worker, janitor, tailor and carpenter. According to Mayo Clinic, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway, located on the palm side of your wrist, which protects a main nerve to your hand and the nine tendons that bend your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by that nerve being pinched, which causes numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. While the condition can be caused by a variety of factors, such as the anatomy of your wrist and underlying health problems, it can also be a result of repetitive patterns of hand use, as in the occupations we described above. This is what makes carpal tunnel syndrome a repetitive motion injury.

Repetitive motion injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries, are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments or tendons caused by doing to same motion over and over. Repetitive motion injuries are common in the workplace. Because they usually form over time, after many repetitions of a motion, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how and when the injury occurred. In spite of this, it is still important to treat these injuries just like any other workplace injury.

According to Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, employees who are injured while working are typically required to notify their employers of their injury. Injured employees should also seek medical treatment for their injury, so they can get the treatment needed for a full recovery. The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries will usually involve some sort of rehabilitation. According to the website for Johns Hopkins Medicine, rehabilitation programs may include occupational therapy, exercise programs, heat or cold applications, the use of braces or splints and pain management techniques. If you suspect that you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to your employer and seek medical attention.