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

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Hilton Head, SC

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If you have been accused and charged with a crime you are in need of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Hilton Head, SC. Having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key in order to protect your freedoms and to ensure that a proper legal defense is built to shield you. Dealing with legal charges in Hilton Head can be a highly distressing ordeal with even minor violations causing 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 alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has over 50 years of combined experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases, sexual misconduct offenses and murder cases, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we provide the best opportunity to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

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
  • 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 Hilton Head where we will educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps in our representation.

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 Hilton Head, 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 penalty of less than one year are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than one year 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 three categories: (1) Magistrate or Municipal Level Offenses; (2) General Sessions or Circuit Court State Charges; and, (3) Federal Crimes. Classifications are based on which prosecuting body has jurisdiction to prosecute a particular charge or offense. Regardless of which court your criminal charge is in, the Theos Law Firm has decades of experience protecting individuals from prosecution and assuring that the best possible outcome is achieved.

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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, and can result in punishment by incarceration up to one year.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes which are punishable by incarceration of more than one year. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentences of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release such as losing the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. These penalties make it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Hilton Head, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved without a trial through a plea deal. In order to assure that the best possible plea deal become available it is crucial for your legal defense to properly build your defense and prepare your case for trial. Deciding to represent yourself or not hiring the best legal team will likely result in exposure to unnecessary penalties, fines and jail time.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Hilton Head, 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. Our team of experience criminal defense attorneys can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes 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. It is critical that you engage an experienced attorney as soon as possible!


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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. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Hilton Head, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. If possible, consult with an attorney before answering any questions or participating in any discussions with law enforcement.


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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 you are accused or charged with committing a crime that you didn't commit defending yourself may seem straightforward but it can be an arduous task to see to it that the charges are timely resolved. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that anything you say or do can and will 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 your child has been accused of a crime it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could be destructive to your child's life, your family or result in a exposure to jail time. 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 Hilton Head and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Hilton Head, 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 Hilton Head 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 Hilton Head 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
Criminal Defense Lawyer Hilton Head, SC

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 Hilton Head, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Hilton Head 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 Hilton Head, 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 Hilton Head, 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 Hilton Head, SC

HOT PROPERTIES: Firm buys Hilton Head hotel

Hunter Hotel Advisors helped usher through the sale of Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn at Hilton Head Island.Hilton Head Hospitality LLC sold the property to an institutional buyer at an undisclosed price, according to a news release from Hunter. Trey Scott, senior vice president of Hunter, advised the seller. The new buyer intends to reposition the property as a Spark by Hilton, the news release said.Located in the heart of South Forest Beach, the Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn includes 63 rooms. The property is less than a mile ...

Hunter Hotel Advisors helped usher through the sale of Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn at Hilton Head Island.

Hilton Head Hospitality LLC sold the property to an institutional buyer at an undisclosed price, according to a news release from Hunter. Trey Scott, senior vice president of Hunter, advised the seller. The new buyer intends to reposition the property as a Spark by Hilton, the news release said.

Located in the heart of South Forest Beach, the Best Western Ocean Breeze Inn includes 63 rooms. The property is less than a mile from Coligny Beach Park, home to more than 60 specialty shops and local restaurants. Directly adjacent to the property is the 17-court Van Der Meer Tennis Facility. Numerous golf courses are nearby, including Harbor Town Golf Links, home of the RBC Heritage PGA Tour event.

Hunter Hotel Advisors is an investment advisory firm focused exclusively on the hotel industry.

Other recent commercial real estate deals include:

Robert Pratt of Re/Max Pro Realty represented the landlord, Sandlapper One Associates LLC, in the lease of 7,884 square feet of warehouse space at Building 100, 7641 Sandlapper Parkway, in North Charleston to Prism Specialties of SC & East Georgia. Hunter Hartley of Lee & Associates represented the tenant.

James A. Dingle of Coldwell Banker Commercial Atlantic represented the seller, Ganesh Gardens LLC, in the sale of office space at 2102 Otranto Blvd. in North Charleston for $935,000.

Taylor Sekanovich of Harbor Commercial Partners represented the landlord, Worksite Properties LLC, in the lease of 899 square feet of office space at 3404 Salterbeck St., Unit 208, Mount Pleasant to Sew Much Better.

Jenna Philipp of Palmetto Commercial Properties represented the landlord, Sandlapper One Associates LLC, in the lease of 10,103 square feet of industrial space at 7635 Sandlapper Parkway from MVS Industries Inc. Robert Pratt of Re/Max Pro Realty represented the tenant.

Brent Case and Jing “Julia” Donovan of Coldwell Banker Commercial Atlantic represented the landlord, Windsor Hill Flex LLC, in the lease of office/retail/flex space at Suite 4, 8210 Windsor Hill Blvd. in North Charleston to La Hacienda of West Ashley LLC. Hannah Kamba of Coldwell Banker Commercial Atlantic represented the tenant.

Hot Properties highlights recently sold or leased commercial properties in the Charleston region. Send in your transactions using our online form.

The cost of Idalia: How much damage did the storm do to Hilton Head?

Despite Hurricane Idalia making landfall near Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm, spinning across and arriving in South Carolina bringing record high tides bolstered by a blue super moon, Hilton Head and the Lowcountry were spared the worst of the storm’s wrath.Having weakened to a tr...

Despite Hurricane Idalia making landfall near Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm, spinning across and arriving in South Carolina bringing record high tides bolstered by a blue super moon, Hilton Head and the Lowcountry were spared the worst of the storm’s wrath.

Having weakened to a tropical storm by the time it tracked into Beaufort and Jasper Counties, Idalia’s mild passing was more conducive to hurricane parties and cocktails than an evacuation. Even a “mild” tropical storm brings wind gusts nearing 80 mph, however, and not everyone on Hilton Head was lucky enough to escape unscathed.

Much of the damage that was done came at the hands of powerful wind gusts toppling old, weakened trees or ripping away large branches. According to Hilton Head Island Building Official Christopher Yates, $135,000 of damage was caused by trees and limbs alone.

Power lines downed by trees and detached branches left 33,000 in the Lowcountry without power at one point.

The town recorded five homes across the island damaged by fallen trees. The severity of the damage varied, from one falling onto an islander’s front porch — a roughly $5,000 repair — to another smashing through a home’s roof, a repair estimated to cost $70,000.

Three other homes had trees fall onto their roofs without breaking through, still causing enough damage to necessitate $20,000 each in repairs.

Hilton Head Fire Rescue responded to 33 Idalia-related calls as the storm pushed across the island and back into the Atlantic. Of those 33, 31 were “tree down related incidents.”

That number pales in comparison to the estimated 120,000 trees that were downed by 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, and the 80 claimed by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Fire personnel were busier during Dorian as well, taking over 100 calls related to the storm according to data provided by Battalion Chief Christopher Osterman.

The island largely escaped Idalia, but residents may not have much time to catch their breath. Meteorologists have warned residents not to let their guard down with Hurricane Lee intensifying near the Caribbean.

It has already become a Category 1 hurricane, and is expected to grow into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm by the weekend. Its path is still uncertain, but the storm could approach Hilton Head from the Atlantic or spin up the coast, tracking northeast and dissipating at sea.

Most current models of the hurricane’s predicted path lean toward the latter, with Lee curving northeast toward Bermuda.

This story was originally published September 7, 2023, 11:16 AM.

Even dressed down after the holidays, real Christmas trees serve a purpose. Here’s how

There comes a time when you want that corner of your living room back. The one that’s been dwarfed by a towering Christmas tree, still aglow and out of place post-holiday.If it’s a real tree, a saccharine Fraser fir or innocuous white pine, the branches have drooped and too many needles have shed. Sure, once the tree has run ragged, its stint as a spruced-up Christmas staple is over. But its utility is far from gone.From the ...

There comes a time when you want that corner of your living room back. The one that’s been dwarfed by a towering Christmas tree, still aglow and out of place post-holiday.

If it’s a real tree, a saccharine Fraser fir or innocuous white pine, the branches have drooped and too many needles have shed. Sure, once the tree has run ragged, its stint as a spruced-up Christmas staple is over. But its utility is far from gone.

From the 350 million Christmas trees currently growing across the nation, 30 million are harvested and sold each year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Unlike its artificial counterpart that contains non-biodegradable plastics and cannot be recycled, real trees serve environmental purposes before and after the holiday season.

While they’re growing, the association said, those trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen. Once felled, for every tree purchased, farmers plant between one and three seedlings in its place.

“That means more trees to fight climate change and to provide more vital benefits for people and nature like clean air and water, wildlife habitat and healthy soil,” The Nature Conservancy said.

When the tree is past its holiday prime, recycling it can reap benefits. Once ground down, the bits can be used for mulch. Other parts of the country use shredded trees as a renewable and natural path material for hiking trails.

In Beaufort County, real trees will be accepted for recycling at all County Convenience Centers for those with decals, or they can be collected on pickup days, said county spokesperson Hannah Nichols. After the holiday, the centers will reopen Dec. 26, however, they will shutter on New Year’s Day.

Those without Convenience Center decals are restricted to the Shanklin Road or Simmonsville Road locations.

From Dec. 26 to Jan. 11 at two locations, Hilton Head Island’s Grinding of the Greens program will accept real Christmas trees and wreaths for recycling. The program will also collect holiday lights. The locations:

Before heading out to haul off a Christmas tree for recycling, remove all lights, garland and ornaments. Trees should be in yard waste bins.

All centers are closed on Wednesdays and New Year’s Day. Operation hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

Open Monday, Thursday and Saturday:

Open Sunday, Tuesday and Friday:

This story was originally published December 27, 2023, 6:00 AM.

Potential next problem storm for SC? Florida looks to send Hilton Head its troubles

Three weeks have passed since Idalia swiped the Lowcountry as a tropical storm and since then, the area has dodged other threats swirling in the Atlantic. But on Wednesday, meteorologists were watching two systems, one of which that will unequivocally impact South Carolina’s coast, a local weather official said.While Hurricane Nigel will come “nowhere near” the state, Severe Weather Liaison Frank Strait said, ocean swells from the storm could kick up the surf and increase the risk of rip currents beginning Thursday....

Three weeks have passed since Idalia swiped the Lowcountry as a tropical storm and since then, the area has dodged other threats swirling in the Atlantic. But on Wednesday, meteorologists were watching two systems, one of which that will unequivocally impact South Carolina’s coast, a local weather official said.

While Hurricane Nigel will come “nowhere near” the state, Severe Weather Liaison Frank Strait said, ocean swells from the storm could kick up the surf and increase the risk of rip currents beginning Thursday.

A tropical wave located off the west coast of Africa has environmental conditions that look as though it could form into a tropical depression late this week as it moves westward across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic between 10 and 15 mph, according to the National Weather Service’s Charleston Office. The chance of formation within the next week is 70%.

“Models seem to agree on eventual development of this feature but not on where it goes,” Strait said. “The longer it takes to get its act together, the further west it gets. It seems more likely to develop and move north out of the tropics early like Nigel did, but we’ll watch it.”

However, a stationary front near Florida is the one to watch.

Meteorologists predict a storm will form east of Florida on Thursday and move north. While the brewing system “looks to be” non-tropical, Strait said it may become semi or fully tropical as it spins over waters that are 3 to 4 degrees warmer than normal.

“Whether it’s a non-tropical gale or a tropical storm, it will affect SC,” Strait wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

While it’s unclear how strong or how far inland the storm will become, the state’s coast will “at minimum” get dangerous surf, high rip current risks and hazardous marine conditions, Frank said Wednesday.

The NWS Charleston Office said those impacts could be seen for portions of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States late this week and into this weekend. On Wednesday, formation chance of the system was 30% within the next seven days.

Strait shared one silver lining among the looming uncertainties: astronomical tides are going to be low this weekend.

Unlike the clash between the supermoon and Tropical Storm Idalia that made tides rise even higher and exacerbated flooding in the Lowcountry.

Earlier this week Strait reminded that September’s weather pattern is particularly precarious and is “ripe for sneak attacks” from tropical cyclones.

“The weather pattern for the rest of September will feature cold fronts pushing through the southeastern states and becoming stationary over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and southwestern Atlantic Ocean,” Strait said Monday. “Also, we’re coming to the time of year when weak low-pressure areas forming over Central America can spawn tropical cyclones; those can also spin up fast because waters are always very warm over the western Caribbean Sea.”

If the systems formed, the next two storm names on the list are Ophelia and Philippe.

This story was originally published September 20, 2023, 10:44 AM.

Actor-director Tyler Perry pledges new home for embattled Hilton Head resident

HILTON HEAD ISLAND — By any standard, it’s been a tough year for 93-year-old Hilton Head resident Josephine Wright.Wright was sued by Bailey Point Investment LLC in February in an action that claimed some of her property infringed upon their adjacent 29-acre parcel. This summer, a tree branch came down and damaged the roof of...

HILTON HEAD ISLAND — By any standard, it’s been a tough year for 93-year-old Hilton Head resident Josephine Wright.

Wright was sued by Bailey Point Investment LLC in February in an action that claimed some of her property infringed upon their adjacent 29-acre parcel. This summer, a tree branch came down and damaged the roof of her home. Earlier this week, Wright was released after a hospital stay.

Despite her recent health issue, Wright came to the door of her home in the Jonesville neighborhood for a moment before she had to leave for a doctor’s appointment.

“I’m feeling much better,” Wright said with a warm smile.

Amid the tribulations, there have been bright spots. Her David-and-Goliath-like struggle against the lawsuit filed by Atlanta-based Bailey Point Investment has captured the attention of admirers across the country. Donations to her GoFundMe account have poured in, and the account now boasts a balance in excess of $360,000. Basketball star Kyrie Irving chipped in $40,000 and rapper Snoop Dog donated $10,000.

Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry is one of the latest big names to offer his support.

“Ms. Wright, please tell (me) where to show up and what you need to help you fight,” Perry wrote on his Facebook and Instagram pages in late June.

Charise Graves, Wright’s granddaughter, recently confirmed that Perry has backed up his offer with action. He has pledged to build Wright a new home.

Asked and answered

Graves told The Post and Courier that Perry reached out to Wright in August and asked if there was anything he could do for her. She told him she wanted a home with a wrap-around porch and a swimming pool.

PORT ROYAL — Mayor Kevin Phillips pulled no punches when he addressed a letter to Safe Harbor Marinas enumerating a long list of concerns about the current state of development of the town’s port.

Safe Harbor purchased the 317-acre site along Battery Creek just over two years ago from the prior owner, Grey Ghost Properties, LLC. The purchase was completed in two transactions totaling $20.5 million, according to county records.

Phillips noted in his Dec. 14 letter that Safe Harbor’s purchase was announced with great fanfare and said residents viewed the transaction as a welcome change after years of wasted opportunity by the property’s prior owners. Plans were made to develop a first-class marina that included residential and commercial elements.

Since that time, the relationship between the town and developer/owner appears to have soured, at least for the moment.

“Despite the initial momentum, the town is concerned about the lack of quantifiable development and unequivocally opposes plans to develop the residential portions of the project as build to rent,” Phillips wrote in the six-page letter addressed to Peter Clark, chief development officer for Safe Harbor Marinas.

Shortly after he was sworn in as mayor on Dec. 13, Phillips moved the Town Council in executive session to discuss matters relating to development of the port. At the conclusion of the closed-door session, Council announced that a letter outlining their concerns had been authorized, but the contents of the letter were not made public until several days later.

“In the short term, the town needs an accurate assessment of the timeline for the marina development, as it impacts the surrounding properties,” Port Royal Town Manager Van Willis told The Post and Courier.

The property’s development plan exists between the town and Safe Harbor and requires residential development, which Safe Harbor does not do. To close that gap, they engaged a Charleston-based firm, The Beach Company.

A representative of The Beach Company presented its plan for the project’s residential component during an Aug. 9, 2023 Town Council meeting. It called for a build-to-rent neighborhood with 205 townhomes and 34 single-family homes.

“That took the council by surprise. It took the people by surprise. I haven’t met a single person in Port Royal that thinks the plan is a good idea,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to get this right.”

J.R. Darby of The Beach Company said at the time that the economics of the development necessitated the build-to-rent plan, adding that the infrastructure costs were high and the market was small. Driving some of that cost, he said, was the presence of contaminated soil on the site. According to the company, the state would only allow rental properties to be built on that soil, a position that the town has since challenged.

Phillips in his letter asked a number of questions trying to establish whether Safe Harbor had looked for other development options.

“We’re asking, ‘Why are you so wed to them in this plan?’ There are other developers out there. There are other plans out there,” he said.

Town Manager Van Willis said that concerns with Safe Harbor’s approach to date haven’t been limited to the members of the council.

“Our residents are clearly concerned about the build to rent concept for the bluff, so we want to understand if all potential avenues for development of this unique property were explored,” Willis said.

Other issues outlined in the letter include securing Safe Harbor’s cooperation for town projects planned in conjunction with the marina development. The projects include building a commercial dock, building a seafood processing plant and completing construction of the Spanish Moss Trail through the property.

Funding exists, Phillips said, for these projects, but progress has been hampered by inaction on Safe Harbor’s part.

For each of the issues raised, Phillips provided a date by which an answer from Safe Harbor is expected.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces to the development and every single one of them is important,” Phillips said. “So far, they’ve talked about the marina and this build-to-rent neighborhood.”

Reached for comment by email, Clark said that Safe Harbor and its partners are eager to continue development in Port Royal but require support from the town to advance the project.

Hilton Head

Phillips set Jan. 12, 2024 as a due date for several of the central issues detailed in his letter. Despite those concerns, his goal is a successful, cooperative relationship with Safe Harbor.

“This port will define Port Royal going forward,” Phillips said. “It’s massively important. We want it to be as good as it can be. That’s our position.”

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