What Does a Civil Lawyer Do And How Will They Help Your Civil Case?

What Does a Civil Lawyer Do And How Will They Help Your Civil Case?

Did you file a civil lawsuit? To better represent your case, a civil lawyer will help defend you. Here's what civil lawyers do and how they can help.

Keyword(s): civil lawyer; civil attorney, civil lawyers, civil case attorney, what does a civil attorney do, what is a civil attorney


The average American is familiar with the inside of a courtroom not through personal experience but through popular media. They hear and see the supposed theatrics of criminal courtrooms and associate them with justice.

Not all justice is criminal. In fact, civil cases are becoming a more popular way to settle disputes with U.S. district courts seeing a six percent rise in civil court proceedings in 2017.

Here's another strange truth: very few civil proceedings go to trial. Trials are time consuming, costly and unnecessary. A civil lawyer today isn't worried about preparing for court; they help ensure you get the settlement you deserve without a day in court.

Do you know what civil lawyers really do and how they can help you? Keep reading to learn how civil lawyers have changed the world and how they can change your case.

What Is a Civil Attorney?

Civil attorneys are more popularly known as litigators. These professionals work primarily on civil lawsuits filed in civil courts but they may also participate in arbitration and mediation processes. These trials and processes may take place aren't always found in the courtroom. They may take place in:

  • Administrative agencies
  • Foreign tribunals
  • Federal court
  • State court
  • Local court

Civil litigation often falls under one of the following categories of law:

Although criminal trials are most commonly represented in the media, some of the most famous court cases in U.S. history were civil cases.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was a Supreme Court case between Linda Brown and the Kansas Board of Education. The justices ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional because the practice was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution.

What Is a Civil Lawsuit?

A civil lawsuit is a private dispute between two parties. The dispute may include either two people or two groups. The lawsuit a court process that allows one party to hold a second party liable for an action, usually an action that wronged the first party.

For example, in the Brown v. Board of Education Case, the Topeka NAACP argued that segregation in Kansas schools was wrong because it violated the civil liberties laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

Civil lawsuits fall outside the government's criminal justice system. Judges in a civil court don't have the same legal powers as criminal court judges.

Both judges may compel an individual to perform reparations. However, while a criminal court judge may issue a jail sentence, civil court judges typically do not. The only jail sentences typically awarded during a civil suit are for contempt or disobeying a court order.

Choosing a Civil Procedure Even When the Wrong Was Criminal

Sometimes, a civil lawyer's role overlaps with the criminal justice system. Approximately 30 million Americans are the victims of a crime every year, but the criminal justice system doesn't always serve them well. In those cases, a plaintiff may choose to file a civil lawsuit.

Civil actions offer victims several benefits including the opportunity to:

  • Remain in control of their case
  • Receive greater compensation
  • Encourage crime prevention
  • Achieve greater justice and accountability

Civil litigation also offers another serious asset to those who've been wronged: a less stringent burden of proof.

Civil Lawsuits and the Burden of Proof

One of the biggest differences between civil and criminal proceedings beyond the venue is the burden of proof.

In a criminal case, a lawyer's task is to prove their case by using "proof beyond a reasonable doubt". In other words, it must be crystal clear to everyone that the accused is guilty through the evidence alone.

Civil lawsuits have a far lower burden of proof. They require only a preponderance of the evidence. One side must show that there's a 51% chance that the other party committed the wrong.

The differences in the standards of the burden of proof were on display in the O.J. Simpson trial. Simpson underwent criminal proceedings for the murder of his former wife and her friend. The jury in the criminal case found him "not guilty" of the charges because the burden of proof was lower than "proof beyond a reasonable doubt".

After the trial, both Nicole Brown's and Ron Goldman's family chose to file a civil suit against Simpson for "wrongful death". The judge in the civil case concluded that Simpson was liable for both deaths and mandated $33.5 million in damages with the ruling.

Why Hire a Civil Lawyer

Civil lawyers don't just work to right national injustices. They also work to right the ship on personal injustices. A civil lawyer most commonly works on cases involving:

  • Divorce
  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Contracts
  • Mortgages
  • Titles
  • Wills
  • Personal injury
  • Workers compensation

They're also involved in civil rights, business law, and personal injury law. In many other cases, lawyers are on hand to provide advice for those dealing with complex procedures.

How a Civil Lawyer Can Help

Civil lawyers perform essential functions in these cases. Their primary job is to gather the evidence required to present your side of the case to the opposition and in some cases the judge. They find evidence you may not even think of because of their experience in working these cases.

Their goal isn't just to prove what happened but to show why the event happened so that it never happens to anyone else.

Beyond evidence gathering, a civil lawyer listens to your side of the story and how you want to present yourself to the opposition. In this way, civil lawyers offer more than criminal attorneys or district attorneys. Those attorneys aim to punish wrongdoing rather than focus on your needs.

Ultimately, a civil lawsuit is aimed at justice for you - not just punishment for the other party.

Do You Need a Civil Case Attorney?

If you've been fighting an uphill battle to settle a dispute, then you may benefit from the services of a civil lawyer. A civil lawyer aims to help you find justice while encouraging the acknowledgment of a wrongdoing on behalf of the other party. Depending on your case, you may not even need to go to trial.

If you're wondering whether you have a civil case, contact us today.

What is a Litigation Lawyer and Do You Need One?

What is a Litigation Lawyer and Do You Need One?

Lawsuits are common and you shouldn't be surprised if you need to file a litigation claim. But what does a lawyer do during the process and do you need one?

Keyword(s): litigation; litigation lawyer, litigation lawyers, commercial litigation lawyer, define litigation, commercial litigator


Have you suffered an injury or monetary loss and considering suing the other party involved?

A lawsuit is a valuable tool used as a way to try to bring about a desired result under the law, but it can also be stressful and expensive.

In the United States, there are approximately 75 lawsuits for every 1,000 people - the fifth-most in the world. The American Bar Association reports that there are more than 1.1 million lawyers in the country.

But not every dispute between parties results in the need to file a lawsuit.

Read on to learn what a litigation lawyer is and if you need one.

Litigation Lawyers Defined

A litigation lawyer is an attorney who represents you in court after a lawsuit has been filed. They also represent individuals facing criminal charges after an arrest.

Litigation lawyers are those practitioners that you are familiar with because of watching TV shows or other legal dramas. The prosecutors and defense attorneys in a criminal case, or the lawyers in court during a civil trial.

But there is more to being a litigation lawyer than simply going to court. These lawyers must familiar with the rules of civil and criminal procedure in the jurisdiction where they are practicing.

The rules of court are important because they set forth the proper procedure the proper response(s) and the time period within which a party may do it.

Missing an important deadline can be fatal to your case and result in dismissal of your causes of action.

Experience in Litigation Cases

A litigation attorney should have experience in the area of law where you need representation.

While many of the lawyers you see on TV are battling it out in court, a large number of attorneys handle transactional matters or never litigate at all.

Transactional matters include tasks like helping to negotiate a contract, the sale of a business, or a real estate deal, to name a few.

Litigation attorneys must be able to think on his or her feet. That's because there is a lot of things that happen in court on the fly. For example, a judge may make an inquiry about a legal concept or a rule of court.

A litigator with experience can be a valuable addition to your side during a lawsuit.

An Advocate for Your Position

Litigators must be a strong advocate for your position in a lawsuit.

The attorney you hire should be able to identify the legal issues involved in your situation. Based on the legal issues posed by the facts of your case and the law that exists in your area, they will advocate your position.

This advocacy is a crucial element of the legal representation you receive from an attorney. That's because this advocacy extends outside of a courtroom. It is present in all elements of the attorney-client relationship.

Your attorney will represent your best interests in all conversations with opposing counsel. They will also do so during depositions with key witnesses, and in all discovery issues that arise in the lawsuit.

Navigating the Legal System Successfully

A dispute between two parties takes on a whole new meaning when a lawsuit is filed.

In civil court, where judges handle non-criminal cases, a lawsuit begins with the filing of a Complaint and the issuance of a summons. A complaint is served on a defendant or respondent, and the rules of a jurisdiction set forth the timeframe in which that party must respond.

After a defendant or respondent files their responsive pleading with the court, litigation can go many different ways.

Lawsuits can also go on for a considerable amount of time. In fact, complex civil cases with multiple issues can last for years, not days or months. A litigation attorney will help you navigate the legal system while also helping to explain how events that take place impact your position.

Understanding Discovery

Discovery is an important tool to help the parties in a lawsuit learn more about the facts and issues that exist in a case.

There is often discovery that takes place - both written and oral. Written discovery includes requests for production of documents or other items. Interrogatories are written questions are served on a party to learn more about a case. Oral discovery includes the taking of a deposition and other sworn statement.

Each case is factually unique and there are a lot of moving parts to litigation. A litigation attorney must be familiar with the legal system and how new facts impact your case.

They must also be able to apply the law to the facts to have a true sense of the strengths and weaknesses in your case.

Going to Trial

They should also recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a case and have a good understanding of when a case should settle or go to trial.

Going to trial may be tempting at first glance, but a closer look at the risks associated with a trial will help you to make the best decision.

According to a study by the U.S. Justice Department, about 97 percent of civil cases are settled or dismissed without a trial.

This means that taking a case all the way to trial is very rare but it happens. You need a litigator who has tried cases and will take your case to trial if needed.

Wrapping Up: Find the Right Litigation Lawyer

A litigation lawyer can be a valuable asset for you to have in your corner before suit is filed and during litigation.

But it's important for you to find the right lawyer for your unique situation. To do this, you should spend time learning about an attorney and their history. You should also meet with a lawyer before you decide to hire them.

This way you can do a preliminary discussion about your legal issues and ensure they are the right person to represent you.

At Reeves & Lyle, we are experienced litigators who are prepared to represent your interests through all phases of a lawsuit.

Contact us today to learn more about our areas of practice and how we can help you.

*This article is written for informational purposes only and not to provide legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.*

What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer in Columbia SC


Looking for in a Personal Injury Lawyer in Columbia?

If you're injured, it's important to have the representation you need. Check out these tips to learn what to look for in a personal injury lawyer in Columbia SC.

Every year, up to 80 percent of people involved in court cases choose to represent themselves. Often the reason for not hiring a lawyer is that people can't afford representation. Without the aid of a personal injury lawyer in Columbia, most people heading to court will lose their case.

Thankfully, most personal injury lawyers will work on a contingency fee. They will only be paid if they're able to win a settlement for you. This means that almost every person with a serious personal injury case should be able to get adequate representation for their case.

If you or a loved one has been injured, you should hire a personal injury lawyer in Columbia, SC. If you don't know what to look for in a lawyer, be sure your attorney has these 7 qualities before you hire them.

1. They Should Have Experience

A personal injury attorney with several years of experience will have seen everything under the sun. They'll be able to look at your case and very quickly determine whether or not you have a strong case.

Lawyers who spend lots of time dealing with insurance companies will be able to help you navigate the choppy waters of going back and forth with them. While you might be personally overwhelmed by speaking with an insurance company, they won't try to intimidate a lawyer the way they might try to intimidate you.

Make sure your potential lawyer has years of experience specifically dealing with personal injury cases. They will be best equipped to make sure that you win your case.

2. They Should Have Good Reviews

You should be able to find lots of testimonials about your potential personal injury lawyer in Columbia. Check their website to see what they've posted. Of course, you'll be dealing with only the best on their site, so be sure to dig a little deeper.

Check out Google reviews, Yelp, and any directory of lawyers and law firms. If you suspect you're dealing with a high-volume, revolving door kind of firm, be wary of how many resources they'll devote to you.

If you've gotten a referral through friends or relatives, ask detailed questions about their experience.

3. Look For Successes

Your lawyer should have a strong record of successes. If they claim to have gotten huge settlements for a variety of cases, they should be listed on the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Once lawyers have received multi-million dollar returns for clients, they'll be listed on this forum.

You should be able to find evidence for higher profile claims they've represented in the past. If your attorney is saying they've achieved something, double check online to make sure they're being straightforward.

4. They Need Resources

If you're aiming to work with a specific attorney or if you sit down with them, see how much time they'll be devoting to your case personally. If they say they're going to have their clerks or staff work on your case, you might not be getting your money's worth.

While great lawyers can hire a great staff, your lawyer should be upfront if they won't be getting their hands dirty on your case.

If you've been in an accident, ask about the kinds of expert witnesses they have access to. Your lawyer should be able to provide forensic scientists, medical specialists, and forensics experts to help make your case. The more prestigious the people they can get to appear, the more likely you'll win your case.

5. They Should Be Easy To Get Ahold Of

You should be able to speak to your attorney when you want to, point blank. If you call the number on their website and have a tough time getting through or scheduling a call, this should be a red flag.

Even if your attorney is busy, you should be told you'll receive a call back soon. You should get that call back before the day is over.

Can you contact their office any time of day, any time of the week? They should at least have an answering service to take your calls. If they value customer service, they should offer these features to their clients.

6. You Should Get A Free Consultation

It's customary for a personal injury lawyer in Columbia to offer a free consultation. Even if your first contact is just over the phone, you should be able to list the details of your case and get an idea of how strong your case is.

Ask in advance. If your law firm wants to charge a fee for your consultation, you should probably find a better law firm. If you have a case, they'll be making a significant amount of money so figuring out whether or not you have a case should be free.

7. You Should Feel A Rapport

When you're speaking with your attorney, you should get a sense that they're listening to you. They shouldn't seem distracted. In fact, you should feel like you'll get along.

You could conceivably be spending a considerable amount of time with this attorney, so you should feel comfortable being open and honest with them. If they spend the entire conversation using jargon and lingo they know is over your head, you should be able to ask them to explain.

If you can't communicate clearly and on an equal level, you might need to keep looking for a better lawyer.

A Personal Injury Lawyer in Columbia Should Be Fair

Your personal injury lawyer should make sure that you get a fair settlement, as you deserve. They should believe that your property and medical damages should be taken care of. A great attorney should have your interests in mind every time they step into the courtroom.

If you're ready to find a great personal injury attorney, contact us to find the perfect fit for your case.

7 Questions to Ask a Car Accident Attorney Before Hiring

Questions to Ask a Car Accident Attorney Before Hiring

If you're looking to take legal action after a car accident, you need the right car accident attorney on your side. Here are 7 questions to ask before hiring.

Have you or someone you know been in a car accident recently?

If so, you may need to hire a car accident attorney. This can make all the difference in getting you the compensation you need to help with medical bills, time off work, and more.

However, if you don't know the right questions to ask a car accident attorney, you might end up hiring the wrong attorney. Ask the right questions, and you can be confident that you've hired the right person for the job.

Wondering what those questions are? Keep reading to find out!

1. What's Your Contingency Fee?

Almost all personal injury lawyers, including car accident lawyers, charge based on contingency fees. This means you won't pay anything up front for their legal services, and if you aren't awarded any damages, you won't owe your lawyer any fees.

However, if you are awarded money damages, then you'll pay your lawyer's contingency fee, which will be a percentage of the award. The percentage usually ranges from 25 to 40 percent of the total award.

Although it's tempting to just hire the person with the lowest contingency fee, that isn't always the best idea. Pay attention to the attorney's qualifications. A better-qualified attorney with a higher fee is often a better choice than a less-qualified attorney with a low fee.

2. What Will I Pay if I Lose?

In addition to the contingency fee, you should find out if you'll owe anything if you lose the case.

Some car accident lawyers charge for out-of-pocket or case-related costs, too. It's important to find out if you'll be paying those costs in case you lose. Otherwise, you could get hit with a large bill that you weren't expecting.

3. Is This Your First Car Accident Case?

If you're hiring a personal injury lawyer, you'll want to be sure that they've handled car accident cases like yours before. However, your best bet is often to hire a car accident attorney who has lots of experience in the field.

Don't forget to ask about outcomes, as well as prior experience. All the experience in the world means nothing if they lose almost every case!

One of the best ways to find out about prior outcomes is to speak to past clients. Ask if you can have a conversation with references.

If they are reluctant to give you this information, it's not a good sign - they might not have had any successful prior cases at all.

4. How Much Time Will You Offer My Case?

As your car accident attorney for a realistic estimate of how much time they are willing to spend on your case.

You'll want to avoid lawyers that take on tons of cases at a time, and don't have much time to spend on each individual case.

When you've been in a car accident, it's important to get the case moving forward right away. You might be racking up medical bills, spending time away from work to recover, or struggling until you can get your car fixed or replaced.

A good car accident attorney will devote the time needed to get your case underway and start moving toward a successful outcome quickly.

5. How Long Before My Case is Resolved?

Legal cases are notoriously long affairs, and it can be hard to predict exactly how long a case will take.

However, an experienced attorney should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take your case to be resolved. They can clue you in on the different factors that affect the time it will take.

They should also tell you what they'll do to move the case along faster. Although there are some factors they can't control, they should want to get it resolved as fast as they can.

6. How Successful Are You at Trial?

First, ask if they think your case will go to trial at all. If they are certain that it will settle instead, you might want to find a different attorney. A good car accident attorney preps for every case to go to trial.

This preparation will help in the settlement negotiations because you'll have racked up a lot of evidence on the chance that your case will be tried. Even if it doesn't go to trial, you'll likely get a larger settlement if your lawyer prepared with the possibility of a trial in mind.

7. What's the Value of My Case?

Experienced attorneys will also be able to give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. If they've done this many times before, they'll have a rough idea of how much each case is worth.

They'll likely give you a range of numbers. However, they should also be able to explain the various factors that can affect where your case falls along that range.

If the estimate sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't hire the lawyer that gives you the biggest number - hire the lawyer that gives you the most information to back it up.

8. Who Will Be My Contact on the Case?

Be sure to ask a law firm which specific attorney will be handling your case.

Sometimes, a firm will advertise their senior partner as the person in charge of your case, but hand the case off to someone less experience as soon as you've signed the agreement.

Make sure to get a clear answer on who will be your contact when you have questions or information about your case. If they tell you a less-experienced attorney will be in charge, ask who their supervisor is going to be.

Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney?

Being in a car accident can be a terrible thing. Your health, finances, and peace of mind are all on the line after such a disruptive event.

However, a good attorney can lift the weight of worry from your shoulders, giving you the confidence to move forward. As long as you ask these questions and know which answers to look for, you'll be able to make the right choice.

Need a great attorney on your side? Contact us today - we have the answers you want to hear.

How to Find the Best SC Personal Injury Attorney

How to Find the Best South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

After a personal injury, the last thing you want is to hire an incompetent lawyer. Here's how to choose the best South Carolina personal injury attorney.

While there are a record number of people representing themselves, reportedly only 45% of them understand what they hear in a courtroom.

While you might think your personal injury case is straightforward and your evidence is clear, you don't know what you could be up against. If you're in South Carolina, a personal injury attorney could help to ensure you get the representation you need.

Whether you're suing another individual, an insurance company, or a corporation, you could be facing a powerful lawyer with a staff of dozens. Going into the courtroom unprepared is like showing up for war armed with a twig.

Once you start looking for lawyers, you might notice that a lot of attorneys make a lot of promises of the kinds of settlements you could get. Follow these tips to ensure you get the best South Carolina personal injury attorney for your case.

1. Expect A Free Consultation

If cost is the thing holding you back from finding an attorney, put that thought to bed. Most reputable lawyers will give you a free consultation to get to know you, your case, and see if you're compatible.

During your consultation, expect that you can lay out the details of what you hope to achieve and the settlement that you think you're entitled to.

Your lawyer should be able to then help you adjust your expectations higher or lower and what kinds of documentation you should start gathering.

This shouldn't come at a cost but be sure to ask in advance if they offer this consultation for free.

2. Ask About Their Experience

While there are plenty of great lawyers who can work a variety of types of law like malpractice, corporate, or estate law, it's hard to become an expert in all of them. Feel free to ask your lawyer about their experience before you hire them.

While you might get along well with someone who is an expert in entertainment or copyright law, they might not have the chops you need. In South Carolina, a personal injury attorney needs to know about law relevant to cases like yours.

Ask for examples of settlements and search for reviews online before you hire a lawyer.

3. Ambulance Chasing Is Real and Illegal

You may have thought it was just a turn of phrase or a stereotype, but ambulance chasing is real. There are lawyers who will send out letters or make contact with someone right after they get into an accident, even in the hospital.

If a lawyer has this much time to chase around clients, they probably don't have many cases to work on. You should think about why they're chasing down clients rather than the other way around.

Again, information about lawyers is often just an internet search away. Knowledge is power, especially when there could be tens of thousands of dollars at stake.

4. Sometimes You Can Skip The Trial

Even though it can take the threat of a lawsuit to get some insurance companies, corporations, or individuals inspired to pay up, they're not always necessary. Sometimes things can be settled without filing any lawsuits.

Getting your lawyer to send along the right information to an insurance company for the defendant can cause the case to be settled quickly. The defendant's insurance company might have moved forward with a lawsuit without realizing how strong your case is.

This is the quickest and least expensive way to get your settlement and move on with your life. If you're dealing with a car injury lawsuit, it's common to settle everything without a lawsuit.

5. Make Sure the Fees Are Clear

Just like any service, there will be costs associated and if you don't ask about them in advance, you could be hit over the head with costs at the end. Thankfully almost every South Carolina personal injury attorney will charge a "contingency fee."

In this scenario, your lawyer won't charge as they work, only if you win your case. This can ensure that they work hard to get a great settlement, because the larger the settlement, the larger their fee is.

You'll be able to get great representation without paying out of pocket up front. Have a frank discussion of all the fees associated and, most importantly, speak to several lawyers so that you can negotiate fairly.

Every region has a different percentage that is normal to ask for. If your attorney wants 20%, you need to know if they're taking you for a ride or whether you should jump on this deal. The larger your settlement could be, the lower you can talk them down.

6. Prepare To Win and Save Some Money

Your lawyer will likely charge you additional fees for expenses. This means that every email they have to respond to, every phone call they're on, and every conversation related to your case adds to your fees.

You can take several steps to streamline your case and lower your costs. Gather all the documentation that you can about your case in advance of speaking to a lawyer. Call both insurance companies and get all the information that you can in advance.

Get any police reports or other documentation. Get everything to your lawyer in an organized and efficient manner and not only will they be thankful, but they'll charge you less for making them do the work.

Most people think that all of this work is part of the job they pay lawyers for and get upset when they see the number of expenses at the end of the case. Smart clients prepare to win.

Your South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Should Be A Good Fit

The most overlooked thing about working with a lawyer is finding one that you get along with and who you feel comfortable talking to.

While you should always be efficient to keep costs down, you shouldn't feel rushed or like you're being rude for contacting them. You could be spending lots of time with this lawyer, so make sure you trust your gut as well.

If you're ready to find that perfect personal injury lawyer, contact us for some suggestions today.

A Comprehensive Guide on Car Crash Injuries from an Accident Lawyer

A Comprehensive Guide on Car Crash Injuries from an Accident Lawyer

Car Accident Lawyer

What You Need to Know About Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

What You Need to Know About Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Filing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Knowing your rights and feeling prepared is an essential part of filing a domestic violence restraining order. Click here to find out more.

Keyword(s): domestic violence restraining order


Every minute, 24 people become victims of domestic violence by an intimate partner.

Nearly half of all women and men in their lifetime have experienced some type of physical aggression from by an intimate partner.

It's scary when it happens to you. Domestic violence leaves many people feeling vulnerable, alone, and terrified.

But that's when it's imperative to take action by filing a domestic violence restraining order. Here's how.

Understand the Definition of Abuse

There are three forms of abuse for which one can obtain a domestic violence restraining order. They are sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

Under the law in South Carolina, domestic abuse is defined as abuse that causes physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the threat of physical harm, or a sexual offense.

Signs of Abuse

When it comes to abuse, part of the problem is that many of its victims don't realize they are actually victims.

Here are a few signs that you're in an abusive relationship. If you recognize these signs, it's time to get help and file for a domestic violence restraining order.

  • You're afraid of your partner
  • They shout at or humiliate you
  • Threaten to hurt or kill you or themselves
  • Forces you to have sex
  • Limits your access to family and friends

Feelings of shame can often prevent victims of domestic violence to reach out for the help they so desperately deserve.

They often feel they "deserve" to be treated terribly or that it's their fault their partner is behaving violently.

None of this is true. Please get help immediately.

Who Can File a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

In order to obtain a domestic violence restraining order, one or more of these acts must have been committed by the following.

1. Your husband or wife or former spouse

2. The parent of your child

3. A person of the opposite sex with whom you live with or used to live with

However, if you have been abused but don't fit into one of the above categories, you can still get help. It just may mean that you'll need to file for a restraining order in magistrate court.

Factors That Keep Many Abuse Victims from Taking Action

Besides feeling ashamed or embarrassed, often those victims who should be obtaining a domestic violence restraining order don't.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to domestic violence.

Victims often feel their abusive partner can change. However, the violence is due to emotional and psychological problems.

Until the perpetrator is willing to get help and take full responsibility for their actions and behavior, it will not stop.

Many victims believe they have the power to get their abusive partners to stop. Perhaps if they do everything for them.

This is caretaking, not helping. It won't stop the abuse.

It's also not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to care for yourself. Often, that means getting a domestic violence restraining order.

Victims often fear retaliation if they leave. If you believe that, find a safe house and call the police immediately.

Where to Get a Restraining Order

In order to get a domestic violence restraining order, you have to file for an Order of Protection in the Family Court.

However, there are regulations for which county you can legally obtain a restraining order in.

You may obtain one in the country where the alleged act happened.

You can also get one in the county where the petitioner lives. However, if the petitioner lives in another state, you can only file here but the case will need to be heard in another qualifying county.

The county where the alleged abuser lives with the exception if the abuser lives in another state.

You may also file in the county where both you and the alleged abuser last lived together.

How You'll Be Protected

A domestic violence restraining order will help protect you.

The alleged abuser will no longer be able to abuse, threaten to abuse, or even bother you.

They won't be allowed to contact you or communicate with you in any place the judge places in the order.

If you have children, you'll be granted custody of the kids you share with the abuser. The judge can either grant or deny visitation rights to your alleged abuser.

If you share pets or a car, you may ask for special permission to have them remain with you.

Whatever the judge decides, no matter what, your abuser must still pay child support for any children you have together.

You'll retain the right to stay in your home. Your alleged abuser must leave the premises.

They won't be allowed to destroy any personal property that either belongs to you or you share together. They also won't be able to sell or transfer any property that doesn't outright belong to them alone.

If the abuser needs to visit the shared home to gather their things, a judge may order a police presence while they are doing so. If you choose to leave the home but need to gather your belongings, a police presence may be granted for your safety.

Fees may be awarded to either person in the case that an attorney was used.

How to Get an Order of Protection

Your best bet for successfully retaining all your rights and being fully protected is to hire a lawyer. They can walk you through the process of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order.

Hiring a lawyer is also a wise idea for anyone who has a domestic violence restraining order placed against them. They can help you protect your rights.

In some cases, there may be a financial difficulty and you don't believe you can afford a lawyer. Should that happen, go to the Family Court Clerk of Court in one of the counties you can legally file.

Ask the Clerk for the appropriate forms and file a domestic violence restraining order right there. There is no fee to file.

Some counties also provide pro bono services. They can help you fill out the forms but be aware they cannot represent you during the hearing.

Once the proper paperwork has been filed, the judge schedules a hearing. Sometimes they're held as quickly as 24 hours. That happens upon request if the judge believes an emergency exists.

At the hearing, you and your lawyer must prove by providing evidence that your alleged abuser did, in fact, commit a crime of domestic violence.

Don't Wait

No one deserves to be abused. The longer you wait, the worse it may get.

Don't wait. Contact us today.

Texting and Driving in SC: What You Need to Know

Texting and Driving in SC: What You Need to Know

Texting and Driving in SC: What You Need to Know

The dangers of texting and driving in SC are real. And the penalties against those who do it are increasing. Read more about this dangerous offense here.

Keyword(s): texting and driving in SC


As you drive down the road, you hear the text message "ding" you've been waiting for all day. You reach for your phone to use it, but the next thing you know, your car has dinged the automobile in front of you -- not exactly the "ding" you wanted. A feeling of gloom comes over you as you wonder what consequences you'll face for texting and driving in SC.

Research shows that the use of a cellular phone causes more than one out of four accidents in the United States.

It's a growing issue that has sparked increasing penalties against those who use their cell phone while behind the wheel.

We've compiled a guide on what you need to know about texting and driving in SC.

Buckle up. Let's get started!

Texting and Driving in SC: What the Law Says

In South Carolina, it is not legal to write, send or read a text message while driving.

In the same way, you are not legally permitted to handle emails, instant messages or social media site messages while behind the wheel.

And the type of device you use to compose or read these types of messages doesn't matter. Whether it's a cell phone, PDA or laptop, you can get into major trouble for breaking South Carolina law.

However, you are allowed to use hands-free electronic devices. These are devices that allow you to communicate with others wirelessly without having to hold them in your hands, due to having attachments or internal features that make this possible.

In addition, you can use your GPS -- including your phone's GPS -- while operating a car in South Carolina. So, don't worry: You can still get navigation assistance or obtain road or traffic condition information without violating the law.

Texting Another Driver

So, maybe you're not currently behind the wheel, but you can't wait to text someone who you realize is driving at the moment. Is this illegal?

The answer to this question is a maybe.

Here's why.

A New Jersey appeals court was the first U.S. court to rule that a third-party texter may be held responsible for a car accident related to texting.

In the New Jersey case, a teenage girl texted a teenage boy -- right before the boy's truck left the roadway and ended up hitting a motorcycle-riding married couple. Unfortunately, both the wife and the husband lost one leg each in the crash.

At that time, the court determined that any third-party texter -- for instance, the teenager in the above case -- may be held financially responsible for an injury or fatal accident if the texter knew that the recipient was driving at the time.

It's not clear if the court in South Carolina would make the same determination in such a case. But it's safe to say that since the state is cracking down on texting and driving in SC, it very well may adopt this approach as well.

What Else You Need to Know

A couple of other important things to know about texting and driving in SC: First, you can text if your car has to come to a stop or if you are lawfully parked.

So, if you're trying to pass at a red light, go for it!

Second, police cannot legally take your cell phone during a traffic stop. If they try to do this, they're crossing the line, and you have the right to fight back legally.

Consequences of Texting and Driving

If you end up being convicted of texting and driving in SC, you will face a $25 fine. However, you are not labeled a criminal, as texting while behind the wheel is not deemed a criminal offense.


On top of that, don't worry -- the department of motor vehicles won't include this violation on your record, and your car insurer won't receive a report about it, either.

Double whew.

But not so fast. If you have a texting and driving conviction, police might have a reason to pull you over in the future.

Translation: You'll have an annoying target on your back. And that may lead to more serious consequences if you find yourself in any of the following situations:

  • Illegal contraband is present in your car
  • You're driving while impaired
  • You're driving while your license is suspended
  • You have a warrant that is outstanding

If you cause a serious accident, the consequences could be even more severe. For instance, you may end up with a vehicular homicide charge on your criminal record if you kill somebody in an accident during which you were texting and driving in SC.

Waiting for a few minutes to respond to a text message vs. Waiting for several years to get out of prison: It's a no-brainer.

Waiting until you have stopped -- or using a hands-free device -- is the best move you could make to protect your future and your freedom.

How Things Could Change in South Carolina

Right now, you're facing a $25 if you are convicted of texting and driving in SC. That may not seem intimidating -- just a couple of movie tickets.

But one lawmaker in the state -- Representative Bill Taylor -- was pushing in December 2017 for a penalty of four times the $25 amount.

That's equivalent to almost your entire monthly cell phone bill.

If the legislation is passed, a first offense will lead to a fine of $100, and a second offense will lead to a $300 fine plus a couple of points on the offender's driver's license.

In this scenario, too many texting and driving instances will eventually lead to the suspension of your license.

We'll learn more about whether this legislation will pass in 2018.

How We Can Help

If you have suffered an injury in a car accident stemming from someone's decision to text and drive, we can help you to pursue monetary compensation to address our losses.

In addition, if you are accused of causing a fatal accident due to texting and driving, for instance, you are not legally guilty unless the government can prove that you are. We can defend you vigorously at trial.

Contact us to find out how we can assist you in pursuing the most personally favorable result following an accident involving texting and driving in SC.

6 Tips for What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Columbia, SC

6 Tips for What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Columbia, SC

Were you recently arrested for a DUI and need advice? Are you unsure of how to proceed? We're here to give you 6 tips on what to do after a DUI arrest.

Your recent DUI arrest is something you'd rather forget but probably won't be able to. Getting pulled over and then hauled into the local station for anything is an embarrassing, humiliating experience.

It's made worse when you don't know what to do after a DUI.

After your first arrest, it may be tempting to ask friends and family who've been in the same boat for advice. Following advice given by anyone who isn't a barred lawyer is a mistake.

In the past several years, DUI law has grown increasingly more complicated. Procedures and protocols have changed.

The only people who are required to keep up with the changes are DUI lawyers and law enforcement officers.

Let's cover six tips for what to do after a DUI.

1. Take A Chemical Test

In South Carolina, you are not bound to do a field sobriety test. These tests consist of using a breathalyzer to gauge the amount of alcohol you've been drinking.

If you do refuse the field sobriety test, the officer will likely order you to take a chemical test at the station. The chemical test will measure either your blood or urine to determine how much alcohol you've consumed.

It is important to note that if you refuse to take the field sobriety test, you absolutely must take the chemical test. Not doing so will hurt your case in court. Plus, it will almost definitely be required by the officer who brought you in.

South Carolina law requires arrestees to take the field sobriety test within two hours of arrest. Chemical tests must be taken with three hours after the arrest.

2. Write Down What Happened

There is an old saying that goes, "The devil is in the details." The outcome of DUI cases is based on the details given in court.

You may think, "What does the judge need to know besides the test results?" The test results aren't the only thing the judge will take into consideration when ruling.

To examine the details of your case, write down everything you remember from your arrest. Where and at what time were you pulled over? How did you respond to the officer?

But don't just think about you. Think about the officer.

Why did he say he pulled you over? If he gave you the field sobriety test, what did the breathalyzer look like? Were any other field sobriety tests (such as walking or balancing) administered?

A mistake on the part of the officer could cause your case to be thrown out.

3. Get Witnesses

Search high and low for anyone you were with before, during, and after your arrest. Ask them if they would be willing to testifying on your behalf during your hearing.

Witnesses can be crucial to winning a DUI case. That holds true even if they can't testify to exactly what happened at the time of your arrest. They can still attest to your high morals and character, especially if this is your first DUI.

4. Maintain A Private Online Presence

It is a fact that police agencies use social media and tracking software to monitor potential criminal activity.

The means don't have to be sophisticated, either. Some officers start fake profiles using stock photos and add those whom they're monitoring to their friends list. That way, they have full access to your profile and know when you post something you shouldn't.

After you get a DUI charge, you should go to great lengths to make your online presence private. Make sure all information is set to friends-only. Delete anyone you don't know in real life.

And above all, delete any incriminating posts and pictures, including old ones. Photos from a party two years ago where you got smashed could be used to portray you as a serial drunk in court.

Additionally, don't make any new posts about your DUI charge or anything related to it.

5. Hire A DUI Lawyer

Lawyers specialize in different areas of the law. The kind of lawyer you need is one who specializes in DUI law. Hiring a DUI lawyer ensures the lawyer is up-to-date on DUI law and proceedings.

Bear in mind that not all lawyers are created equally. Read reviews of any lawyer you're thinking of hiring and gauge whether or not they're competent with DUI law.

If you can't find adequate reviews of the lawyer in question, try a local referral center. They may know of a local lawyer who fits the bill.

Additionally, you can ask friends, family, and neighbors if they know of a lawyer who can help you.

Be aware that some DUI lawyers specialize in plea deals while others specialize in trials.

When you find a lawyer you may want to hire, arrange a meeting. While in the appointment, check their credentials and experience. Gauge how they advise you on what to do after a DUI.

6. Make Better Choices

Everyone is human and bound to make mistakes.

However, some mistakes are more condemning than others. And one of those mistakes is getting a DUI.

In the future, you should take better precautions when you drink. When you go out, don't drink if you plan on driving. If you do drink, have a friend or taxi drive you home.

You don't want multiple doors to close on you because of one mistake.

Still Not Sure What To Do After A DUI? Contact Us!

How you handle a DUI can have a huge impact on your future. For that reason, you should consult the best DUI lawyer you can find.

At Reeves and Lyle, we understand your situation. We know people make mistakes. And we've represented, advised, and supported many clients who've faced DUI charges.

If you're still unsure what to do after a DUI or you need representation, feel free to reach out to us.

Your future depends on it.

Worried young driver

Suspicion of DUI: 5 Tips You need to Know

Being pulled over on suspicion of DUI is already a bad sign. Here are 5 tips to make interaction with the police and your trial easy to handle.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is illegal everywhere in America. And if your driving habits or behavior suggest you're intoxicated, you're likely to be pulled over under suspicion of DUI.

Drunk or intoxicated driving is a big deal! The CDC tells us that over one-third of all traffic-related deaths are from drunk driving. That's over ten thousand people every year.

A suspicion of DUI, if it happens to you, is a major threat. A lot of consequences will come of that moment, so you should make the wisest decisions and be educated on how to respond.

Below, we've put together a list of 5 pieces of advice about a suspicion of DUI and how to handle it.

1. Don't Drink and Drive: The Penalty is Heavy

You will never want to be responsible for death or damage because of drunk driving. Beyond any legal or lawful circumstances, the guilt of killing or even severely injuring another person will last forever.

It may only be a single drink that sets you over the limit, a single drink for a lifetime of guilt. And that's before all the legal stuff starts kicking in.

If you're pulled over under suspicion of DUI, there are at least two charges you could face:

  • A charge that you were driving with a blood alcohol level of over .08%, and
  • A charge acknowledging that you were too impaired to drive because of drugs and/or alcohol

Obviously, the law is a lot more complicated than that, but it should give you an idea of the some of the consequences.

What Consequences?

For starters, if you're convicted of a DUI, you will be losing your license. For how long depends on the offense and the state. Chances are, it'll be at least a year of no driving after being stopped by an officer.

There's a big chance you could go to prison for about a year and/or have to pay fines of thousands of dollars. Insurance will be canceled on your vehicle, and future insurance rates are very likely to go sky high.

And if you damage property or hurt anyone while under suspicion of DUI, things get a lot worse. Fast.

The best advice out there is not to drink and drive in the first place.

2. When You Should Refuse The Breathalyzer Test

There is no magical rule of thumb that will let you know when to take the test or not. It all depends on the situation, previous convictions, present standing with the law, etc.

The breathalyzer test, or Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), will gauge the amount of alcohol in your blood.

The legal limit for driving is .08%, and should you cross that, consequences are severe.

If it's an option, you should always talk to your attorney first. Understand, though, that refusal or accepting to take the breathalyzer test can be used against you in court.

However, there are some extreme examples where refusing the breathalyzer test might be your best option:

  • You have been pulled over for suspicion of DUI before or have been arrested for it;
  • You likely have a BAC of .20% or higher;
  • or, you were involved in an accident that caused someone else serious injury or death

At that point, getting in touch with your lawyer is your safest bet.

If you have been drinking recently and are beyond the legal limit for driving, using the breathalyzer is cause for immediate arrest.

3. Refusing the Coordination Test

The coordination test might include things like standing on one foot or walking across a straight line. These actions test the driver's coordination, which, if they're driving, should be good enough to walk a straight line.

Just as refusing the breathalyzer, refusing the coordination test might seem to officers like you're guilty. But considering circumstances, you might refuse the test to talk with your attorney first.

Again, speaking with your attorney is the surest way of avoiding jail time. Know that refusing a test could be used as evidence in your trial.

4. How to Respond to Questions From Police

Citizens don't have to answer any questions that are meant to be incriminating. It would be wisest to request to speak with your attorney if stopped for suspicion of DUI.

The police, in certain circumstances, may not permit you to contact your attorney until after declining testing.

They might ask you things like:

  • What were you doing before you got in your car?
  • How many drinks and how much food did you have?
  • Do you have any physical inabilities?
  • Where are you heading?

These are normal procedures for police officers trying to keep the roads safe. If you truly only had a beer or two, then this shouldn't be incriminating. It might help to mention you had a drink if the smell of alcohol is on your breath.

5. What to Do if You're Arrested

In the event that you are arrested, you need to build up enough evidence for your attorney to make a case. Even having someone you know testify at the police station about your intoxication can be used.

Don't rely on first test results, either. It might be a good idea to offer to take a second test. This could help to remove unfavorable or incorrect results.

Sometimes this means posting bond first. Again, your attorney will know how to best leverage your situation. Contact them as soon as possible, and definitely if you're arrested.

Be Prepared in Case of a Suspicion of DUI

Far from assisting those who would endanger the road, we advise that every citizen know their rights and be prepared. A DUI or even just the suspicion of DUI is a serious and scary ordeal.

Be in touch with your lawyer in case such an incident should arise. The best advice we can give is not to drink and drive in the first place. Safety, for everyone, should always be a priority.

If you do get into a DUI or DWI situation, make sure to contact your lawyer as soon as possible.

Looking for more insightful law advice? Do you need an attorney? Contact us at Reeves and Lyle and let us know today!

Photo by AlexRaths/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by AlexRaths/iStock / Getty Images

Columbia, SC