Charged with a Crime in South Carolina?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local South Carolina criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in South Carolina?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. On an important note, some crimes in South Carolina are not given misdemeanor classification. These crimes have their own possible penalties as detailed in the individual laws. However, the general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in South Carolina are:
- Class A Misdemeanor. Can result in incarceration for no more than three years, and/or a fine up to $2,500. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, vandalism, third offense in 10 years, use of threats of physical violence by a gang member against a minor, and communicating of seeing messages to others without consent.
- Class B Misdemeanor. Can result in incarceration for no more than two years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, making false statements about income to obtain public housing, assault or intimidation on account of political opinions or exercise of civil rights, and enticing a child from attendance in school.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Can result in incarceration for no more than one year, and/or a fine up to $1,000. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, vandalism (second offense in 10 years), falsifying or altering a transcript or diploma, and disturbing religious worship.
Additionally, South Carolina recognizes a misdemeanor class known as “exempt crimes”. Each exempted misdemeanor crime not given a specific classification has its own associated penalties associated that aren’t necessarily the same as those associated with the specified A, B, or C. For example, the crime of making a false claim is a misdemeanor punishable by no less than one year in jail and a fine of at least $500, but has not been classified either A, B, or C. Other “exempt” misdemeanors include carrying fire on lands of another without a permit, destruction of sea oat or Venus flytrap plants, and first-offense vandalism.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in South Carolina?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In South Carolina, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Class A Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 30 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, and attempted murder.
- Class B Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 25 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, failure to stop a vehicle in an accident when death occurs, second-degree arson, and second-degree assault and battery by mob.
- Class C Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 20 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, sexual exploitation of a minor, carjacking, and attempted armed robbery.
- Class D Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 15 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, manufacturing or distributing methamphetamine or cocaine, first offense, third-degree arson, and second degree burglary.
- Class E Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 10 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, causing harm to a child, reckless homicide, and first-degree sexual misconduct.
- Class F Felony. May result in imprisonment for not more than 5 years. Crimes in this class include, but aren’t limited to, illegal conduct at elections, sale or possession of counterfeit cigarettes, and stalking.
In addition to incarceration, if you are convicted of a felony in South Carolina, you may also be sentenced to pay a fine. Unlike prison terms, felonies do not have a set, associated fine. Instead, each criminal statute states a fine, range of fines, or leaves it up to the court to impose a fine it deems appropriate.
Need a South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a South Carolina criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.