J. Taylor Bell
“Criminal defense attorneys are the shield that protects the individual from the almighty government machine,” he says. “It doesn’t care about feelings. It doesn’t care about individual circumstances. It’s a machine and it wants to roll. If you get caught in it, you just get run over unless you have somebody who’s going to stand up for you.”
Bell has focused his work on representing criminal defendants ever since his student days at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 2011. During law school, he clerked at the Richland County Public Defender’s Office in Columbia and then continued to work there as an attorney after getting his law license.
He remained in the Public Defender’s Office for six years, handling a broad range of criminal defense cases — from the most serious felony cases to the full spectrum of misdemeanors. He tried numerous jury trials, in both General Sessions Court and Magistrate’s Court, and was one of the lead defense attorneys in the first human-trafficking case ever investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury.
In 2015, Bell received intensive additional training in the art of jury persuasion at the National Criminal Defense College Trial Practice Institute.
A North Carolina native who grew up near Charlotte, Bell received a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2007. After working in the financial services industry for a year, he decided to go to law school because he realized he wanted a bigger hand in helping people.
He joined The Jeffcoat Firm in October 2017 and is continuing to concentrate his practice on criminal defense while adding a new dimension: professional licensing defense. In those cases, he defends licensed professionals before various licensing boards.
“I enjoy seeing people through hard situations,” he says. “I like to help people when they’re feeling hopeless or being accused of something they didn’t do. It happens; it’s just an unfortunate truth of this world.”
In his years of doing criminal defense work, Bell has seen how finger-pointing can sometimes spin out of control when something bad happens.
“When there are serious allegations, everybody wants to be able to blame somebody so that everybody feels safe that they’ve caught the person who did whatever it is,” he says. “I think that plays a big role in law enforcement today, as opposed to truly recognizing what actually happened and whether this person actually did it, or if they’re just coming up with the easy target.”
Many times, Bell is able to convince a court that the actions of the government are unjust. He has achieved dismissals and sentence reductions as a result.
Bell is active in the South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association and serves his community as a wrestling coach at River Bluff High School, where he has helped three teams win multiple state championships.
He lives in Lexington with his wife, Kiersten; son, Tanner; and rescue dog, Brodie. When he’s not working or spending time with his family, Bell can be found fishing for big stripers in South Carolina waterways.