Criminal Defense

If you find yourself in need of a criminal defense attorney, let us help get your life back on track. We are experienced criminal defense attorneys with proven results. At Grooms & Thomas Law Firm we handle criminal cases in a variety of areas, including:


+ Criminal Law

Being charged or investigated for a criminal offense can be a life changing event, but you do not have to go through the process alone. If you have been arrested or find out you are being investigated in connection with a crime, it is important to act quickly. Any charge whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony charge should be taken seriously as either conviction could potentially follow you the rest of your life. One of the first steps you should strongly consider is retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who truly has the experience you need can make all the difference in the ultimate outcome of your case.

My name is J. Stephen Grooms and my firm is in Myrtle Beach, SC. We represent people facing charges throughout the low county of South Carolina from drunk driving and drug possession to serious felony offenses. My background as a senior assistant prosecutor with the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and time spent in the private sector has provided me with the courtroom experience that can make a difference. I would invite you to contact our office, when you call Grooms and Thomas, LLC you speak to an actual attorney before deciding on representation. Please check out our reviews and background and then give us a call to set up a free consultation to see the difference.


DUI and DUAC in South Carolina Being charged with either DUI or DUAC in South Carolina should be taken seriously. If you are convicted of either of these or related offenses, there are serious consequences. If convicted you can be sent to jail, your license will be suspended, and your insurance will likely go through the roof for years to come. However just because you are charged doesn’t mean a conviction is inevitable, or even likely. Each case has a unique set of circumstances that could be the key to a favorable outcome. Here at Grooms and Thomas, LLC we take pride in the representation we provide our clients, both Attorneys J. Austin Thomas and J. Stephen Grooms have experience in criminal law, and in particular DUI and DUAC charges. Please check our reviews and background and then give us a call to set up a free consultation to see the difference.
The elements of DUI in SC that the prosecution must prove include: Driving

In order to prove a case of Driving Under the Influence the State must first show that there was actual driving in order to prevail. In that the vehicle is being operated and in motion as opposed to an occupant who is simply listening to the radio while stationary or enjoying the air conditioning. While Intoxicated Intoxication can include alcohol or any illegal or a legally prescribed drug that has intoxicating effect. For example, you can be charged with DUI in SC based on intoxication from:

  • Alcohol;
  • Marijuana;
  • Cocaine;
  • Prescription pain medications;
  • Sleep medications; etc.

However, simply takin a prescribed medication or having a beer isn’t necessarily enough for the prosecution to prove a charge of DUI, they must also prove that you were intoxicated to the point that it impaired your ability to operate a vehicle. The State must prove that Your Faculties to Drive Were Materially and Appreciably Impaired

The State will seek to prove that your faculties to drive were materially and appreciably impaired in several ways. For example, they will take testimony from the arresting officer regarding his observations as well as use any evidence the court allows against you such as a roadside sobriety test, urinalysis, blood test, or collected video footage of the alleged improper driving, etc. Having an experienced DUI attorney to know what to look for can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
DUAC – Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration in SC To be convicted of DUAC in SC, the prosecution only needs to prove that you were driving and that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08 or greater. However, even if you are charged due to a blood alcohol content as outlined above there are still defenses that may apply to your case and I would invite you to contact our office to go over your options.

+ Misdemeanor vs Felony Charge

In criminal law there are two types of offenses, the less of the two is a misdemeanor charge. A misdemeanor is the criminal law world is considered a minor offense, an example would be an assault and battery 3rd, or petty larceny. And while the misdemeanor charge may be the lessor of the two it still carries lasting consequences if convicted. The charge which typically carries up to 30 days or a fine will remain on your record indefinitely unless you otherwise have a clean record and wait a minimum of three years before applying for a costly expungement of your record. It is a much better to keep your record clean of all charges rather than simply taking the conviction and dealing with the consequences later in life. In contrast to the misdemeanor charge is a felony charge. A felony charge in South Carolina carries anywhere from a potential sentence of up to 5 years all the way up to a life sentence. In rare cases the death penalty is applicable. Any felony conviction will remain on your record the rest of your life unless you are able to secure a pardon which is a difficult thing to achieve.

Our attorneys at Grooms and Thomas have handled thousands of felony charges ranging from lower drug offenses to murder charges. The experience and knowledge that our attorneys can offer may be the difference maker in your case. I would invite you to check us out online, read reviews or newspaper articles and then give us a call to see if we might be the right firm to represent you in your time of need.

+ Drug Law Violations

As you are likely aware each State has their own set of laws when it comes to what is and what isn’t a legal drug. The fines, potential sentences, and how certain drug charges are prosecuted varies from State to State. In South Carolina our prosecutors take drug offenses seriously, as evidenced by very aggressive laws that in some cases mandate serious prison time as a minimum sentence regardless as to whether this is your first arrest.

While at the solicitor’s office attorney J. Stephen Grooms spent a considerable portion of his career assigned to the drug team, during that time he worked solely on drug related cases. This experience has given him the ability to know what the State must do in order to successfully prosecute a drug offense.

Whether it be a simple possession charge or a trafficking case, law enforcement must follow certain guidelines and must honor a defendant’s rights in order to have the evidence they need to prosecute the charge against you. For example, something as seemingly small as an improper search or a search warrant that left out key details can be the difference in a serious prison sentence or a dismissal of your charges. If you find yourself charged with a drug offense you should strongly consider hiring a criminal defense attorney who has the background to adequately and zealously represent you or your family.

+ First Time Offender

A lot of our clients are first time offenders, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to represent these people and be their guide to getting their lives back on track. Whether you are a college student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or simply someone who made a mistake we want to help. Regardless of how careful or conservative you may be, good people often find themselves in difficult situations. It is our goal to help you get through this difficult time as painless and as quickly as possible. When you call Grooms and Thomas you will be able to schedule a free and confidential consult with one of our attorneys, we want your business and we plan to earn your trust.

For any offender our goal is to get your charge dismissed, but even if that is not an option there may be another avenue to having your case resolved without a lasting conviction being levied against your permanent criminal record. Below I have listed a few potential diversion programs that may be applicable to your case.

Pretrial Intervention – or “PTI” is a great program that accepts clients upon a referral from the State, often times after negotiations are had with defense counsel. In this program you will be assigned a case agent who determines the steps that must be done in order to achieve a successful completion of the program. A few examples of required task would be community service, alcohol or drug related classes, counseling and in some cases where applicable there are random drug screenings. Assuming you complete the program and have no other arrest during that time your charge will be dismissed, and you will then be eligible for an expungement of the records related to your charge.

Conditional Discharge – a conditional discharge is essentially a guilty plea with a great caveat for the defendant. In South Carolina a defendant is eligible for a conditional discharge on certain drug offenses once in their lifetime. The defendant admits guilt, but the Judge allows them to complete either community service or drug test in order to have the charge dismissed and the guilty plea vacated after they successfully complete the court ordered requirements. Traffic Education Program – or “TEP” is a driving offense related program that requires a short defensive driving class and minimal community service. Upon successful completion the driving offense you are charged with will be dismissed by the court.

Drug Court – This program is for defendants with addiction issues, whether it be narcotics or alcohol drug court is an intense diversion program that has a near zero tolerance policy when it comes to substance abuse. Defendants only enter this program on referral and acceptance by the State, the defendant pleads guilty and his or her sentence is held in abeyance upon the completion of the program. If a person successfully completes then the guilty plea is vacated and the charge is dismissed, but if a person is unsuccessful then the drug court officials may terminate their spot in the program and the sentence previously ordered by the court will be immediately instated. Drug Court is a great program that has changed many lives for the better, but it is only for serious participants who are ready to make a change in their lives.

There are other programs available depending on the charge and jurisdiction of the alleged offense, we would invite you to contact our office for a free and confidential consultation. We want your business and plan to earn your trust.