When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florence, SC

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If you have been accused of a crime, the only thing standing between your continued freedom and harsh legal penalties is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Florence, SC. That may seem harsh, but in this time of turmoil and uncertainty, having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key. Because the truth is that dealing with legal charges in Florence can be a highly distressing ordeal, with even minor violations causing a considerable impact on an individual's personal and work life. The repercussions of having a criminal record can be severe, leading to loss of employment, severed relationships, and even alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm, we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has years of experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and can move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases and sexual misconduct offenses, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we have a much better opportunity to achieve the best possible client outcomes.

Service Areas

We help clients overcome criminal charges in a wide range of cases, including the following:

  • Homicides
  • Drug Crimes
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Misdemeanor Offenses
  • Federal Offenses
  • More

If you are facing one or more of the charges above, it's imperative that you establish contact with a legal advocate ASAP. At Theos Law, you can rest easy knowing our phone line is always open. When your future is up for grabs, let our team of criminal defense lawyers fight for your rights. It all starts with a free consultation at our law firm in Florence, where we'll educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps ahead.

At this point, you probably have many questions in mind. Keep reading for more information on criminal law in South Carolina and some of our criminal defense specialties at Theos Law.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Florence, SC

Understanding Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, criminal cases are classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, offenses that carry a maximum sentence of three years or less are categorized as misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than three years in prison are generally classified as felonies.

State and Federal Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

Crimes in The Palmetto State are usually split into two categories: state crimes and federal crimes. Classifications are based on whether a crime violates state laws or federal laws. Ultimately, it's up to the prosecutor to decide which category to pursue charges under. State crimes generally include assault, robbery, domestic violence, theft, and rape. Federal crimes, on the other hand, may be more complex and can include computer crime, major drug trafficking, hate crimes, and money laundering. These types of crimes are often investigated by agencies like the FBI or IRS.

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The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in South Carolina

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime can be challenging for someone facing their first charge. Misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, resulting in fines or a short stay in a local county jail. Trials and plea deals for these cases move quickly due to their nature.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes classified by degrees, with first-degree being the most severe and sixth-degree being the least. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentence of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release, making it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Florence, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved outside of court through a plea deal. This allows the defendant to acknowledge their guilt on one or more charges without the need for a trial. Both your criminal defense lawyer and the prosecutor collaborate to come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement, which helps avoid the uncertainties and dangers of a trial. By accepting a plea deal, you may receive a lighter sentence and avoid the anxiety that comes with a lengthy legal battle.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florence, SC?

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At Theos Law Firm, we often receive questions from potential clients about when they should hire a criminal defense attorney for the charges that they're facing. Although each situation and client are unique, there are some common criminal situations to keep in mind. In general, it's always best to reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as you're charged or have been arrested.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide when it's necessary to retain a criminal defense attorney for your case in South Carolina.

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When You've Been Accused or Charged

Thinking about hiring a criminal defense lawyer when you're charged with a crime is a no-brainer for most, and for good reason. A defense lawyer can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes like retail theft and cyberstalking to more serious ones such as sexual assault and manslaughter. Regardless of the charges, navigating the legal system can be complex, and without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the situation can escalate rapidly.


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When Investigators or Police Question You

As you may have observed in movies or television shows, the police might request you to provide a statement, giving the impression that you are not under arrest. If they suspect you of committing a crime but lack sufficient evidence to detain you, they may aim to put you at ease and elicit information that can be used against you. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Florence, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage.


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When Authorities Search Your Residence

In the event that law enforcement officers arrive at your residence with a warrant, it indicates that a judge has determined there is reasonable suspicion that evidence related to a criminal offense is present in your home. Regardless of whether they discover and confiscate anything, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney to discuss the situation and receive assistance in determining any potential charges or locations they may investigate in the future.


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When You Are Wrongly Accused of Committing a Crime

Could you imagine being accused of something you didn't do? When law enforcement, a judge, or a prosecutor accuses you of committing a crime that you didn't do, it can be an arduous task to prove your innocence, especially if you have a prior record. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that your past mistakes should not be used against you. To increase your chances of being cleared of charges, it's advisable to have a defense lawyer who can support your innocence and fight for your rights. Criminal defense attorneys at Theos Law don't just listen - we act swiftly and always with your best interests at heart.


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When Your Child Is Involved

The legal system for juveniles in South Carolina is different than it is for adults. It comes with its own complications and hurdles to overcome. If you think or know that your child has been accused of a crime, it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could ruin their life or result in a longer-than-needed jail sentence.

Keep reading to learn more about just a few of the most common criminal defense cases we accept at Theos Law Firm.

Criminal Defense for DUIs in South Carolina

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In terms of common criminal offenses in South Carolina, DUIs top the list, especially regarding mindful drivers with clean driving records and no criminal history. Unfortunately for these drivers, a DUI conviction in South Carolina stays on your record and cannot be expunged. Even first-time offenses with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent can be costly. Your insurance premiums go up for years, you may end up paying almost $1,000 in fines and fees, and there's a good chance you'll have to perform community service or serve jail time.

If your breathalyzer test result is more than .15%, you refuse the breathalyzer, or it is recorded as a refusal, your license will be automatically suspended, which complicates matters further. Throw in the possibility of interlock device rental, and your life may never be the same. For those reasons alone, it is crucial to approach such charges with the help of a DUI defense lawyer. At Theos Law Firm, our attorneys have years of experience in successfully fighting these types of charges.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, there is hope. That's especially true if the accused has undergone a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve such tests are successfully beaten every day. At Theos Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your DUI case in Florence and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Florence, SC, may seek answers to many questions, including:

  • Was your DUI stop legal? If not, your case could be thrown out.
  • Is there enough probable cause or evidence for an arrest? If there is not, it's possible to file a pre-trial motion for your case to be dismissed.
  • Did officers explain implied consent rights? One of the most common errors police make is failing to take this step.
  • Did the police maintain your BAC and breathalyzer results? Breath testing often comes with inherent weaknesses. This can create doubt in a juror's mind.
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Criminal Defense for Drug Cases in South Carolina

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If you are dealing with drug-related crimes in Florence or another city in South Carolina, it is crucial for you to understand the potential penalties involved. Possession of a controlled substance may fall under the category of a misdemeanor, but many drug offenses are considered felonies. Even a minor drug offense conviction can result in long-lasting negative consequences. As such, it's always advisable to explore your options and seek the assistance of a Florence drug crime attorney. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help safeguard your rights and may help achieve a favorable outcome.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Theos Law is, "What does possession mean?”

Drug charges based on possession in South Carolina are divided into three categories:

  • Simple Possession
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking

However, the state also has other drug charges that are not based on the weight of the drugs. These include:

  • Drug Distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution Near Schools, Parks, or Playgrounds
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Possession-based drug charges in South Carolina are deemed "graduated offenses" with penalties that grow more severe based on the weight of the drugs. It's important to note that the charges can be based on either actual or constructive possession. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Florence, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Florence and other cities in South Carolina.

Some of the most common drug charges we see at Theos Law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD and Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription Pain Killers
  • Fentanyl
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Can I be Arrested for Drug Paraphernalia in South Carolina?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding "Yes.” Drug paraphernalia can refer to various items such as pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, grinders, and rolling papers which are linked to drug usage, preparation, storage, or hiding. Even though some of these items may have legitimate uses, like tobacco pipes or medical syringes, they can still be scrutinized by law enforcement if there is proof of illegal drug use or intent.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery Cases in South Carolina

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If you are facing assault and battery charges, it is possible that you haven't actually physically harmed someone. Many people associate assault and battery with brutal beatings, but that is just one example. There are other situations that are less severe than what people typically imagine.

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It's a common misunderstanding that physical injury is required for assault and battery charges. The fines, penalties, and jail time you may face depend on the severity of your charges and the number of offenses. Regardless of the degree of your charges, Assault and Battery is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, and as such, your criminal defense lawyer in Florence, SC, should work relentlessly to fight the charges being levied against you.

Though this list isn't comprehensive, here are some of the biggest factors that dictate the severity of your assault and battery charges:

  • Age of Victim
  • Severity of Injuries Sustained
  • Size and Weight of Accused vs. Size and Weight of Victim
  • Whether or Not the Victim Presses Charges
  • Whether or Not Weapons Were Involved
  • Whether or Not the Victim's Privates Were Touched

Understanding the Degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina

Third Degree

Causing harm to someone or threatening to do so with the ability to carry out the threat can result in a charge of third-degree assault and battery. This misdemeanor offense is typically heard in municipal or magistrate courts and may carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.

Second Degree

Causing harm or making threats to harm someone that results in moderate bodily injury can lead to charges of second-degree assault and battery. Additionally, touching someone's private parts without their consent can also result in charges of assault and battery in the second degree. This misdemeanor offense is heard in General Session court and can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

First Degree

Assault and Battery in the first degree can involve a number of actions such as inflicting an unlawful injury when kidnapping, touching a person's privates "with lewd and lascivious intent,” and much more. Contact Theos Law Firm for more info on the degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina.

Everyone Deserves a Reliable Criminal Defense Attorney in Florence, SC

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At Theos Law firm, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client's rights are not overlooked. Because unfortunately, the rights of everyday citizens are often trampled by law enforcement oversights and legal system failures.

That's why every criminal defense lawyer at our firm works hard to provide guidance and support throughout the legal process by keeping you informed of updates and as comfortable as possible during this trying time. Benefits of hiring Theos Law Firm include:

  • Thorough Knowledge of South Carolina Criminal Law & Procedures
  • Seasoned Legal Representation in the Courtroom
  • Years of Experience Structuring Plea bargains
  • Ability to Identify Due Process Violations
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients & Vigorous Representation
  • Skilled Negotiation Tactics Involved with Bail, Sentencing, Appeals, and More
  • Familiarity with Local Prosecutors

Unlike some criminal defense law firms in South Carolina, our team believes that everyone deserves a great lawyer when their freedoms are on the line. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in South Carolina, trust Theos Law to have your back without judgment.

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Latest News in Florence, SC

Free festival in Florence offers music, food from more than 25 countries

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquíApproaching the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., Trinity Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s International Food Festival in Florence is extending the celebration to include countries like India, China, and the Philippines.NEW: ...

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí

Approaching the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., Trinity Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s International Food Festival in Florence is extending the celebration to include countries like India, China, and the Philippines.

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The free festival is at Ebenezer Park Saturday, representing more than more than 25 countries.

No matter where you’re from, organizers said it’s a great opportunity to explore and celebrate each other.

“You’ll learn more about our roots, and also, all the community will have the opportunity to try Latin food, Asian food, and other countries!” Annette Diaz said.

RELATED: Bringing the 'fiesta' to the Grand Strand: Hispanic Heritage Month events

Organizers are excited about a parade during the festival, representing each country with their flags and music.

The festival is from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday, and they’ll also have hotdogs, popcorn and snow cones.

Florence grocery store owner selling shares to grow community

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — The owner and operator of the Save A Lot grocery store on East Darlington Street in downtown Florence is making a bold move to essentially help save his business and grow the community.Waters said he's selling 120,000 shares at $25 each."They can buy up to 200 shares. I am using two exemptions. Exemption 141 A for the federal. and I am using SC exemption 13-206 for the state. Talk to the attorney general Alan Wilson. They walked me through what I was doing. Here I am taking government money be...

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — The owner and operator of the Save A Lot grocery store on East Darlington Street in downtown Florence is making a bold move to essentially help save his business and grow the community.

Waters said he's selling 120,000 shares at $25 each.

"They can buy up to 200 shares. I am using two exemptions. Exemption 141 A for the federal. and I am using SC exemption 13-206 for the state. Talk to the attorney general Alan Wilson. They walked me through what I was doing. Here I am taking government money because this is what built the store. And taking it and giving it back to the people who we got the money from," said Waters.

Waters said he was able to secure $3.6 million dollars in grants to open a Save-A-Lot grocery store through his company Elijah Craig, LLC. He got a $300,000 incentive package from the City Of Florence to finally open the store in 2021.

However, he said since it's opened he's not getting the customers he needs to keep the business filled with groceries.

"There are some things that I have to do. And I’ve come to recognize that I need some help. I don’t want to wait 20 years to see my dream come true. And all of a sudden they just fade away. Because I was too proud not to ask for help or too proud not to seek help. And that’s what I’m doing now," said Waters.

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Waters is sharing the following information with those interested in buying shares:

"Cost of Shares: $25 per share, with a maximum of two hundred shares per person purchased at one time. Shares may be purchased in five, $5 dollar installments on a weekly basis in-store. This will allow low-income people to buy shares. Our store will be in the hands of the community forever. Shares are lifetime purchases to be passed to the next generation after generation.

Dividends: Dividends will be paid each quarter, based on the rate of return on the net profits from sales for that quarter. Our Board along with our CPA will develop the ROR, to be included in our welcome aboard package.

Shareholder Board of Directors: Shareholders will elect a five-member board to oversee all shareholder funds. Funds will only be used for inventory and working capital. We have obtained over 5.6 million thus far, however, I want to pass some ownership to our community.

This will allow the store to truly become a community store indefinitely.

Our audaciously inclusive initiative aims to provide an opportunity for residents of the state of South Carolina, especially Afro-Americans and low-income families throughout South Carolina, to become shareholders in Elijah Craig LLC dba Florence Save a Lot., fostering community empowerment, economic inclusion, and creating opportunities for generational wealth and prosperity.

The Florence Downtown Save a Lot is more than a grocery store. We are a community. By becoming an owner (also referred to as “member”) of Elijah Craig LLC dba Florence Save a Lot, you become a partial owner of our store and take ownership in our community. Your investment in the store allows us to make investments in local farmers and artisans, offering direct support to the sustainable, natural foods and products that they provide, along with the Save a Lot brand. As a community-owned grocery store, we are accountable to you, the members of our community who support and invest in us. We are committed to supporting the environmental, social, and economic concerns of our owners. I know that we need shoppers and others to invest in the store; therefore, I have decided to make the Florence Downtown Save a Lot store truly a community store. "

For additional information, you can contact Tim Waters by phone at 843-472 -7463 and by email at twaters003@gmail.com.

You can also visit the store at 310 North Dargan Street in Florence.

SC Dept. of Education sent letter to Florence charter school to cease all operations

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — The South Carolina Department of Education sent a letter to Palmetto Youth Academy on August 23 asking the school to cease all operations as a public school.In a recent affidavit asking the court to issue an order, Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley said the school was terminated effective June 30....

FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) — The South Carolina Department of Education sent a letter to Palmetto Youth Academy on August 23 asking the school to cease all operations as a public school.

In a recent affidavit asking the court to issue an order, Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley said the school was terminated effective June 30. This order came after a motion by the F1S Board of Trustees to not renew the district-sponsored charter school.

Florence 1 Schools said the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) closed PYA on August 1.

ABC15 obtained a copy of a letter the SCDE sent to PYA following a hearing last month when an administrative law court judge didn't grant PYA a stay to continue operating.

A portion of the letter reads:

“The immediate effect of the Court's order is that there is no legal means through which PYA can currently operate with public funds. If it has not done so already, PYA must immediately cease all operations as a public school. The SCDE expects Palmetto Youth Academy to fully and faithfully comply with the AL's order. The SCDE likewise anticipates that Florence One will be a willing partner in effectuating an orderly transition and ensuring that PYA's students are quickly enrolled in an appropriate school program. To this point, the ALC Order mentions that "the District appears ready to mitigate that disruption."

It goes on to say," The SCDE expects that appropriate action will be taken with respect to all state and federal funding related to PYA. PYA must provide a full accounting of all funds spent since the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year to Florence One."

S.C. Administrative Law Court Judge Sebastien Phillip Lenski presided over a hearing Monday involving a motion filed by Florence 1 Schools for an injunctive relief asking a judge to issue a restraining order, appoint a receiver and issue a Writ of Mandamus demanding Palmetto Youth Academy (PYA) to close.

Florence 1 Schools' lawyer said PYA is using funds from the district to continue operating the school.

Montgomery said right now there's no trust between PYA and Florence 1 Schools.

He told the judge that's why it's important for a receiver to be appointed to investigate how much money has been spent and on what.

PYA's Director Dr. Yvonne Brown Burgess spoke out and contradicted what her lawyer told the judge saying "The school is closed."

ABC15 found information on the S.C. Secretary of State's website that shows Brown-Burgess, as of May 13, has another business registered at the same location as PYA at 1209 North Douglas Street in Florence.

It's listed on the website as Palmetto Promise Academy.

The non-profit business is shown to be in good standing, according to the website.

ABC15 sent Brown-Burgess a couple of text messages asking about Palmetto Promise Academy and if PYA is still operating, but have yet to hear back from her.

At this time, there's still no decision on Florence 1 Schools' injunctive relief.

We will let you know when the judge reaches a decision.

Florence County considers $50 million bond for county-wide improvements

The bond ordinance passed its second reading by a unanimous vote of the Florence County Council on Oct. 19 and will be up for final approval at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 16. It will be paid using leftover money from the most recent one cent capital project sales tax, which was approved by voters in November 2020.County Administrator Kevin Yokim said on Oct. 26 that the county has not yet identified specific projects to use the $50 million on but that any project that uses the money will itself need to go before county c...

The bond ordinance passed its second reading by a unanimous vote of the Florence County Council on Oct. 19 and will be up for final approval at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 16. It will be paid using leftover money from the most recent one cent capital project sales tax, which was approved by voters in November 2020.

County Administrator Kevin Yokim said on Oct. 26 that the county has not yet identified specific projects to use the $50 million on but that any project that uses the money will itself need to go before county council for approval.

“Now, examples of things that I’ve suggested to council of what we’re going to spend the money on: probably the largest one is paving projects or related projects in the nine council districts. It will be up to each individual council member to figure out what roads or type projects they want,” he said.

Another chunk of the money will likely be used for economic development projects like buying land for industrial parks, improving existing industrial parks and other projects the county hopes will spur investment in the local economy and the creation of more jobs.

Around three years ago, Florence County took out a $22 million bond specifically for economic development projects. Yokim said that money is quickly being used up.

The county has bought a number of large tracts in the past few years to aid in economic development, but the upcoming $50 million bond may be used to buy land for another purpose: conservation.

It recently purchased the 500-acre Independence Farm to be the next county park. Yokim said the county will likely continue buying strategic parcels to strike a balance between the need for economic development and the need to preserve land for future generations.

Rural water infrastructure improvements are also on the list of projects under consideration for the bond.

Currently, a number of small towns in the county have their own water systems, but they do not connect. Since the systems are so small, any equipment failures or similar problems could have drastic effects for the residents, according to Yokim.

“You’ve got a small municipality. They might have three wells that service their whole municipality. What happens if a pump on a well goes out? Can they still provide it with the other two wells? And because of supply chain issues: one, can they afford to buy a pump? Two, if they can, with supply chain issues, how long is it going to take?” he said.

The county may help pay for water lines to connect the systems, each equipped with a master water meter, he said. These master meters would remain shut most of the time, but if one community was struggling, it could ask to buy water from a nearby system until it was able to fix the problem.

Funds may also go to pay for rural fire station upgrades. Many rural fire projects were already approved along with the sales tax in 2020, but costs have gone up since then and more money will likely be needed to make up the difference, according to Yokim.

The county has all of the funding it needs for the $120 million bond approved by voters in the 2020 sales tax referendum, and conservative estimates show that the county will get at least another $50 million from the tax before it ends in 2028, he said.

State law allows county councils to decide how to spend excess money gained from capital project sales taxes as long as all the projects in the sales tax referendum are complete or there is enough funding in place to do them.

“Because of COVID, because of the talk of a recession, the projections were conservative, as they should have been,” Yokim said about the $120 million bond approved by voters in 2020.

However, he said, Florence County never saw the dramatic dip in its tax collection that the projections included. The $50 million bond will allow the county to immediately use the extra money it expects to gain from the sales tax if it is approved at Florence County Council’s next meeting.

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