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Rock Hill Criminal Defense Law Blog

Man charged with murder after woman's body found in fire

South Carolina officials reported that the body of a woman that was found after a fire that occurred on Oct. 10 showed that she had been shot to death before the fire occurred. The woman was identified as a 39-year-old and a 38-year-old man was charged with murder the same afternoon.

The fire occurred at a residence located in the 100 block of Crestmore Drive. The woman's body was found in the debris after the blaze was extinguished. An autopsy on the woman's body was completed, which showed that she had been beaten and strangled before being shot. It was not clear what actually caused her death, though all three were factors. The autopsy showed that she had died before the fire was set.

FBI crime report reveals a surge in nonviolent drug arrests

Opinion polls reveal that most people in South Carolina and around the country feel that the war on drugs has been largely ineffective and believe that the issue should be treated as a public health rather than a criminal problem. However, figures from the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that arrests for drug violations continue to increase despite public opinion and laws being passed in several states that either legalize or decriminalize marijuana.

According to the FBI data, law enforcement agencies across the country made in excess of 1.57 million drug arrests in 2016. This figure represents a 5.63 percent year-over-year increase and is higher than the number of arrests made for all violent crimes combined. More than four out of 10 of those charged with drug crimes in 2016 were taken into custody on marijuana-related charges, and the overwhelming majority of these arrests were for simple possession.

Controlled substances and penalties

South Carolina residents may know that a controlled substance is a drug designated as illegal by the federal government. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 breaks drugs down into five categories or schedules. These range from the most dangerous, listed under Schedule I, to the least dangerous. Some prescription drugs are considered controlled substances, but if a person has been prescribed and purchased the drug lawfully, having it is not considered a violation.

Examples of Schedule I drugs are LSD and heroin. These are considered to have no medical uses. Methamphetamine is a type of Schedule II drug. Schedule III drugs are considered to have a high risk for psychological addiction and include Vicodin and ketamine. Xanax and Valium are Schedule IV drugs, and the least serious types of controlled substances, Schedule V, include cough syrups with codeine.

Too soon to tell if rise in violent crime is a trend

Many parts of South Carolina might feel far away from big-city crime, but violent crimes have risen for the last two years across the entire country, according to FBI statistics. The swell in violence, including homicides, does not automatically indicate a crime wave. Crime rates had dropped to historic lows for several years preceding the rise, which means 2015 and 2016 might have only been bad years.

The nation's overall rate of violent crimes rose by 4.1 percent in 2016. According to FBI data, 17,250 homicides took place, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2015. Small towns were the scenes of more homicides than before. Increasing violence in rural areas still only represented 8.4 percent of the rise in crime. Large metropolitan areas accounted for 20.3 percent of the violent crime growth. Homicides in one Midwestern city alone contributed significantly to the rising numbers. Chicago reported 468 homicides in 2015 and 765 homicides in 2016.

Overcoming your conviction to get a good job

Some employers may be leery about hiring applicants with criminal records. However, this does not have to stop those with such convictions from obtaining quality work positions.

Along with organizations willing to assist citizens with past convictions, there are things formerly convicted citizens may do themselves. If you or a loved one has prior convictions, there are a few things to consider when seeking a good job.

Man and teen accused of murder and arson

On Sept. 21, it was reported that two South Carolina residents were taken into custody after they were accused of arson and murder. The two individuals were identified as a 22-year-old Hartsville man and a 17-year-old Hartsville teen.

In early September, the body of a man was found in a mobile home located on Persimmons Drive after the residence had been on fire. Officials accused the two men of shooting the man, putting his body in the mobile home and setting the residence on fire to cover the alleged murder. The 22-year-old man was taken into custody on Sept. 16 after he was found in Columbia. Authorities reportedly found in possession of illegal drugs. The teen was taken into custody on Sept. 19.

Man dies in stabbing incident

According to authorities, a 48-year-old man was taken into custody on Aug. 31 for allegedly being involved in a fatal stabbing that took place in South Carolina. Earlier in the day, a 33-year-old man was found dead just after 6 a.m. at the home of the man who was taken into custody.

The Spartanburg County coroner said that the victim had been stabbed multiple times. Officials say that the man who was taken into custody claimed that the victim had been assaulting a woman. However, authorities say that a statement given by the woman and other evidence at the scene of the incident did not match the man's version of events. An investigation into the matter is still ongoing.

Shoplifting turns deadly at South Carolina Sears

Two shoplifters stand accused of causing the death of an 81-year-old man. The victim worked as a loss prevention officer for Sears and confronted the men as they were attempting to take two televisions on Aug. 22. The men pushed the employee down, and he hit his head on a concrete floor. He did not recover from the blunt force trauma to the head and died later at Palmetto Health Richland.

Store surveillance video recorded the altercation. Witnesses informed police about the vehicle driven by the two men, who succeeded in leaving with one television. The sheriff of Richland County said that law enforcement found one of the men at a house on Ferrell Drive. A traffic stop on the 7800 block of Two Notch Road resulted in the arrest of the second suspect.

Restaurant shooting in Charleston

South Carolina residents might have heard about the fatal shooting that killed an executive chef at Virginia's On King in Charleston on Aug. 24. The shooter who also took a hostage was identified as a 53-year-old ex-convict who was fired from the restaurant the day before the attack.

The incident occurred when a man dressed like a kitchen worker came into the restaurant at around 12:15 p.m. and made those inside go to the back of the restaurant. Some people were able to escape through side doors while the chef was shot. The shooter went to the second floor of the restaurant with a hostage, and a member of a SWAT team shot the gunman at around 2:30 p.m. The shooter was taken to Medical University Hospital in critical condition.

3 handed drug charges after a bust

It has been reported that three South Carolina residents were taken into police custody in August on drug offenses. The drug bust occurred following an investigation and the execution of a search warrant at a Goose Creek residence.

During the search, authorities reportedly discovered about 11.1 grams of a substance that was determined to be methamphetamine. They also allegedly found four Suboxone pills, drug packaging materials and other drug-related paraphernalia.