The Woods Law Firm

South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer: Crimes Against People

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

Crimes against people include a broad array of offenses that involve bodily harm to a person. They are distinct from crimes against property , which typically involve theft or another offense that only affects a person financially. In South Carolina, laws regarding crimes against people can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Chapter 25.  Crimes against people include such offenses as domestic violence, assault, murder, kidnapping, and sex crimes.  Below, we explore the various crimes against people in South Carolina, the possible punishments and how a steadfast legal defense on your side can make the difference between decades behind bars or your freedom.

South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers Aggressively Protect the Rights of People Charged with Violent Crimes

Violent crimes are considered the most serious types of crimes in South Carolina. When you are accused of a crime of this nature, you can expect to feel the full weight of the government against you. To have the best criminal defense possible under the circumstances, you need the fervent legal support from The Woods Law Firm. We carefully analyze the case against you and work quickly to protect your legal rights and keep you out of jail. Our dedicated legal team assists clients in all 46 South Carolina counties who are charged with violent crimes such as those listed below.

What is the Definition of a Violent Crime in South Carolina?

Violent crimes in South Carolina are defined in South Carolina Code §16-1-60. Some of the crimes in South Carolina that are considered to be violent include, but aren’t limited to: murder, attempted murder, assault and battery, kidnapping, human trafficking, armed robbery, and carjacking.

What is Defined as Homicide in South Carolina?

The definition of homicide can be found in §16-3-5 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Homicide is defined as taking the life of a person without legal justification. In South Carolina, homicide includes both murder and manslaughter and it can be intentional or caused by reckless behavior.

What is First Degree Murder in South Carolina?

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another person. South Carolina doesn’t separate murder into degrees, so murder is considered to be one crime and the punishment is determined by aggravating factors that may be present. 

Under South Carolina Code of Laws §16-3-20, aggravating factors that make a murder more serious include:

  • The murder was committed by someone with a prior murder conviction
  • The person who committed the murder did so knowing there was a risk of death to more than one person in a public place by use of a weapon or device that would, under normal circumstances, be deadly to the lives of more than one person
  • The murder was committed to receive money or something of monetary value
  • The victim of the murder was a judicial officer, a former judicial officer, attorney, former attorney, or other officer of the court because of their official duty or of a family member of one of these officials that was committed with the intent to retaliate or impede the official.
  • The defendant caused or ordered someone else to commit the murder or committed the murder acting as an employee of someone else
  • Two or more people were murdered in one act or in one scheme
  • The murder was of a child aged 11 or younger
  • The murder was of a witness or potential witness and was committed during a criminal process with the intent of impeding or harming the prosecution of a crime
  • The murder was committed by someone who was found to be a sexually violent predator pursuant to Chapter 48, Title 44 of the SC Code of Laws

What is Second-Degree Murder in South Carolina?

South Carolina does not separate murder into different degrees. However, the presence of certain factors minimize the impact of a conviction for a murder such as:

  • The person charged with the crime has no meaningful convictions of violent offenses against others
  • The person was under the influence of drugs or was emotionally disturbed at the time of the killing
  • The victim consented to the act that resulted in death
  • The person charged with the crime was an accomplice and had a minor role in the death
  • The defendant acted under duress
  • The defendant was impaired or could not realize the criminal nature of his act
  • The defendant was young or a minor
  • The victim provoked the defendant
  • The defendant was considered mentally retarded at the time of the offense

What is the Felony Murder Rule in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, if, during the act of committing a felony such as robbery, a person dies without the defendant actually intending or causing this death, he can still be charged with murder under the felony murder rule. In the case of Gore v. Leeke, 261 SC 308, the felony murder rule went from a presumption to a rule of law. This rule states that in cases of inferred malice, the rule applies only to felonies that are inherent or when there is foreseeable danger to someone’s life.  If charged with the felony murder rule, a simple burglary or robbery charge will be elevated to murder.

What is the Legal Definition of Voluntary Manslaughter in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-3-50 defines voluntary manslaughter as a “heat of the moment” killing, so it does not involve the same intent and consideration as murder does. A manslaughter charge is considered a lesser offense in South Carolina but is still an extremely serious crime.

What is the Crime of Involuntary Manslaughter in South Carolina?

Involuntary manslaughter is a lesser crime than homicide and is defined as a person causing the death of someone else while engaged in criminally negligent behavior or conduct that shows a disregard for the safety of other people. This conduct doesn’t have to be illegal itself in order for the crime to arise.

How Is Kidnapping in South Carolina Defined?

South Carolina Code of Laws § 16-3-910 defines kidnapping as the abduction, confinement, detention, or carrying away of a human being without legal cause. Someone can be convicted of kidnapping even if it is part of another crime such as:

  • Locking someone in a closet or bedroom
  • Taking someone from one house to another by using force
  • Forcing someone to stay seated or stay in one place during an argument
  • Detaining a person who is having an affair with your significant other

Are You Facing a Charge for Sex Crimes in South Carolina? You Need a Criminal Defense Firm that Will Immediately Get to Work on Your Case to Secure Your Freedom

A lot is at stake when a prosecutor charges you with a sex crime. You will suffer immediate damage to your reputation and your liberty is at stake. You need a zealous criminal defense firm that will take the charges against you seriously and will get to work immediately to protect your freedom. Our knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Woods Law Firm assist clients charged with sex crimes in South Carolina, including all of those discussed below. We are available for an immediate consultation via text at (864) 810-0384.

In South Carolina, What Are Sex Crimes?

Sex crimes are defined in Section 16-3-652 in the Code of Laws of South Carolina. Someone can be charged with a sex crime if they committed a sexual act against a person without his or her permission.

What is the Legal Definition of Rape/Sexual Battery in South Carolina?

Rape in South Carolina law, Section 16-3-600, is referred to as “sexual assault and battery.”  This act occurs when someone forces their victim to be a part of illegal sexual contact. This offense includes nonconsensual touching, up all the way to rape. The penalties escalate as the degree of sexual assault increases in seriousness.

How Is Sexual Misconduct in South Carolina Defined?

According to South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-3-651(d), a person is guilty of sexual misconduct when they engage a victim in sexual intercourse, oral or anal sexual conduct, or another sexual act for the purpose of sexual gratification without that person’s consent.

What Is Criminal Sexual Conduct in South Carolina (CSC)?

The South Carolina Code of Laws § 16-3-652 recognizes three degrees of criminal sexual conduct. All forms of criminal sexual conduct involve the sexual battery of a victim, which encompasses unwanted sexual intercourse, oral sex or the penetration of any part of a person’s body or object into the genital or anal opening of another person’s body.

First degree criminal sexual conduct is charged when a person commits sexual battery and any of the following occur:

  • The defendant uses aggravated force
  • The victim allows the sexual battery while the victim of a forced confinement, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, housebreaking or a similar offense
  • The defendant incapacitates the victim without their consent through the use of drugs

Second degree criminal sexual misconduct occurs when a school faculty or staff member threatens to use force or violence against the victim and the victim believes the person can carry out the threat.

Third degree criminal sexual conduct occurs when the defendant sexually batters the victim and any of the following conditions are present:

  • The defendant knows the victim is mentally or physically handicapped
  • The defendant uses force or coercion to commit the offense

What Is Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor?

South Carolina also has an offense called “criminal sexual conduct with a minor,” which arises when the victim is 10 years or younger or the victim is 15 years or younger and the defendant has previously been convicted of a sex crime or is required to register as a sex offender. South Carolina recognizes three degrees of criminal sexual conduct with a minor:

First degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor includes sexual penetration, intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex with a minor who is 10 years old or younger, regardless of how old the person committing the crime is.

Second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is when there is penetration, intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex between a minor who is between the ages of 11 to 15 years of age and the offender is of any age.

Third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor occurs when a person who is 18 years of age or older attempts or commits lewd behavior with a minor under the age of 16.

How Is Child Pornography Defined In South Carolina?

Child pornography is defined in South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-15-395 as the sexual exploitation of a minor. Whether this involves the production, distribution, or possession of child pornography, all forms are considered a felony in South Carolina.

What Is Prostitution and Solicitation in South Carolina?

Prostitution and solicitation according to the South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-15-110 involves a wide array of legal issues. In the state of South Carolina, it is illegal to:

  • Participate in prostitution
  • Knowingly aid or abet prostitution
  • Solicit for the sole purpose of prostitution
  • Live in, enter, or stay in any place including a building or vehicle for the purpose of prostitution
  • Run a house of prostitution like a brothel
  • Allow anyone for the purposes of prostitution to enter your building, vehicle, place, or trailer
  • Direct or transport anyone to a building, trailer, or vehicle for the purposes of prostitution
  • Lease any structure, vehicle, and/or trailer for the purposes of prostitution

What is the Legal Definition of Solicitation in South Carolina?

South Carolina Code 16-15-90 defines solicitation, often referred to as soliciting or engaging with a prostitute, as: aiding in prostitution, entering any place for the purpose of prostitution, or receiving a prostitute into any place.

How is Public Indecency Defined as in South Carolina?

According to South Carolina Code of Laws §16-15-130, public indecency, also referred to as indecent exposure, is defined as the willful and malicious act of exposing a person’s intimate parts to anyone in a public place, on the property of someone else, or in plain view of anyone on a street or highway. This definition includes: flashing, public urination, exposing genitals, or exposing genitals to a minor.

Skilled South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers Provide Powerful Defense to Any Crime Against a Person

At The Woods Law Firm, we take on all types of cases involving crimes against people. No case is too big or too small for us to handle. We will work closely with you to develop a customized legal strategy that plays to the strengths of your case. Some of the other types of cases we help people with include the following.

What is Criminal Domestic Violence in South Carolina?

In the state of South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. § 16-25-20 defines domestic violence as causing harm to a household member. This offense includes threatening or attempting to cause injury to someone who lives in your home while being able to carry out the threat. A “household member” includes:

  • A spouse
  • An ex-spouse
  • People who have a child together
  • A male and female who are currently living together or have lived together before

South Carolina recognizes three degrees of domestic violence:

First degree domestic violence in South Carolina is charged against a person who causes great bodily harm to someone in their household or takes some action that is likely to result in great bodily injury to the victim, violates a protection order, has two or more prior convictions of domestic violence within the last 10 years, uses a firearm during the offense, or commits the offense against a person who is pregnant, in front of a minor, chokes the victim, commits the offense while also committing robbery, burglary, theft or kidnapping, or tries to prevent the victim from calling law enforcement or emergency services while committing the offense.

Second degree domestic violence in South Carolina occurs when a person causes moderate bodily harm to the victim, violates a protection order, has one prior domestic violence conviction within the last 10 years, or commits the offense under any of the situations described above for first degree domestic violence in South Carolina.

Third degree domestic violence in South Carolina charges arise when none of the other factors discussed above are present but the defendant caused or threatened bodily harm against a member of the same household.

Additionally, domestic violence can be classified of a “high and aggravated nature.” when a person:

  • Uses a deadly weapon to commit the crime
  • Commits the crime in front of a minor
  • Commits the crime against a person the defendant knew or should have known was pregnant
  • Chokes or strangles the victim
  • Commits the crime while committing the offense of burglary, robbery, kidnapping or theft
  • Prevents a person from accessing a phone to call the police or emergency services
  • Shows an indifference to the value of human life

What is the Legal Definition of Public Disorderly Conduct in South Carolina?

According to South Carolina Code of Laws § 16-17-530, a person can be charged with public disorderly conduct if they:

  • Are severely intoxicated or disorderly on a highway or any pubic place or gathering of people
  • Use obscene or profane language in or within hearing distance of a school or church
  • Discharge a gun within 50 yards of a public road while not on their own property while intoxicated

What Are the Penalties for Crimes Against People in South Carolina?

The potential penalties for a crime against a person in South Carolina depend on many factors, including whether the offense is classified as a felony or misdemeanor, the degree of the crime the defendant is charged with, the presence of aggravating factors, and any previous convictions that the defendant has. Some of the possible penalties that a person can face are discussed below.

Violent Crimes

The punishments for these crimes vary depending on the seriousness of the offense, the recommendations of the prosecutor, and the nature of the crime.


The penalties for murder, depending on the individual facts and circumstances surrounding the case, include:

  • Thirty years to life in prison
  • Life in prison without parole
  • Death Penalty

The punishment for murder includes a mandatory minimum term of thirty years’ imprisonment.


The penalties for voluntary manslaughter include up to 30 years in prison. However, if the defendant has been convicted of a statutorily designated serious offense or two prior convictions for a serious offense, he or she faces up to life in prison without parole.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.


If convicted of kidnapping, a person can be sentenced up to 30 years.  

Sex Crimes

Prosecutors often seek extensive prison sentences for people convicted of sex crimes. Some of the potential penalties for these crimes are discussed below.

Rape/Sexual Battery

Rape is a felony in the state of South Carolina and the penalties are divided into three categories which are:

  • Assault and Battery of high and aggravated nature – This offense occurs when the crime against the victim causes great injury. The penalty includes up to 20 years in prison.
  • Assault and Battery of the first degree – This is a charge that includes unwanted sexual touching, or when the sexual assault occurred during the commission of another crime. The penalty can be up to 10 years in prison.
  • Sexual Assault and Battery in the second degree – This charge includes minor injuries or attempt to injure the victim during unwanted sexual touching. The penalty may be a fine up to $2,000, a maximum of 3 years on prison, or both.

Criminal Sexual Conduct

Criminal sexual conduct in South Carolina is considered a felony. There are three degrees of this offense. The penalties for criminal sexual conduct in South Carolina are as follows:

  • First degree criminal sexual conduct:  Punishable by up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
  • Second degree criminal sexual conduct: Punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
  • Third degree criminal sexual conduct: Punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Criminal sexual conduct with a minor is penalized as follows:

  • First degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is a felony and can result in 25 years or more in prison without parole.
  • Second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is also a felony and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
  • Third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Child Pornography

Child pornography/sexual exploitation charges are broken up into three degrees in South Carolina.  The degrees and punishments include:

  • First degree sexual exploitation of a minor is the most serious charge and involves the production of child pornography. This charge carries a minimum of three years’ imprisonment, up to 20 years.
  • Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor prohibits the distribution or reproduction of child pornography and carries a mandatory minimum of two years’ imprisonment, up to 10 years.
  • Third degree sexual exploitation of a minor bans the possession of child pornography and carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years.


The punishments for solicitation are:

  • First violation is punished by a fine up to $200 or 30 days in jail
  • Second violation is punished by a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail
  • Third and all subsequent violations are punished by a minimum of one year and jail and a fine up to $3,000


The penalties for prostitution are:

  • First offense: A maximum of a $200 fine or 30 days in jail
  • Second offense: Up to $1,000 in fines or a maximum of six months in jail or both
  • Third and subsequent offenses: Fines up to $3,000, minimum of 1 year in jail, or both.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.  The punishment in South Carolina for sexual misconduct includes:

  • When the misconduct includes intercourse, this is a felony and penalties are up to ten years in prison
  • When someone knows about sexual misconduct and fails to report it to law enforcement, this is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in prison.

Public Indecency

Public indecency is considered to be a misdemeanor in South Carolina and is punishable by up to a maximum of three years in jail, a fine set by the court, or both. In some cases, a person convicted of public indecency may have to register as a sex offender.

Criminal Domestic Violence

Punishment for criminal domestic violence in South Carolina includes:

  • First offence for domestic violence is a misdemeanor and can result in fines of between $1,000 to $2,500 or up to 30 days in jail
  • Second offence domestic violence is a misdemeanor with a fine from $2,000 to $5,000 and up to 30 days in jail.
  • Third and subsequent offenses of domestic violence are punishable by one to five years in prison.

Alternatively, a person can be ordered into a batterer’s treatment program in lieu of serving all or part of a jail sentence.

The punishments for domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature includes a maximum prison sentence of ten years with a mandatory one year of time.  The court can suspend the remainder of the sentence if the defendant attends a batterer’s treatment program.

Public Disorderly Conduct

In South Carolina the penalties for public disorderly conduct include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $100.

What Are the Consequences of a Conviction of South Carolina Crimes Against People?

A conviction for a crime against a person carries many substantial penalties, including:

  • Considerable jail time – A conviction can result in many years behind bars, life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Because a person was the victim of this type of crime, prosecutors often seek the maximum punishments.
  • Fines – Criminal defendants can be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines, fees, assessments and restitution.
  • Parole/probation – Even after a defendant is released, he will usually be required to check in with a parole or probation officer. This requirement considerably limits your freedom and subjects you to the criminal justice system for a prolonged period of time. These officers are waiting for you to slip up and make a mistake so that you are forced back to prison.
  • Loss of opportunities – Conviction of a serious crime against a person can result in the loss of job opportunities. If convicted of a crime against a person, you will most likely not be allowed to work around vulnerable populations, including children or the elderly. You will have a criminal record that follows you around for the rest of your life that will continue to limit the job and educational opportunities available to you.
  • Immigration consequences – Nearly every crime against a person is a deportable offense.
  • Civil case exposure – The victim of a crime can pursue civil relief against you, such as the payment for medical expenses, disability and pain and suffering. Additionally, a criminal conviction of this nature can be used as evidence against you in a family law dispute or other civil case.

When you are facing such serious consequences, it is critical that you contact an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer who has a track record of successfully defending people in similar situations. This is not the type of legal predicament you can successfully navigate through on your own.  Your only chance of emerging with your freedom intact is to find the best South Carolina crimes against people law specialists who are capable of mounting a vigorous and highly strategic defense on your behalf. Call or text us at (864) 810-0384 for an immediate case consultation.

Which South Carolina Court Will Hear My Case Involving Crimes Against People?

South Carolina is made up of 46 counties. Charleston, Greenville and Richland Counties are the largest counties in the state. The court where your case will be heard depends on the county where the crime was allegedly committed and whether the crime is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. Municipal or magistrate courts hear misdemeanor cases. County circuit courts, otherwise known as General Sessions Courts, hear felony cases. 

Our attorneys handle cases in ALL 46 counties in the state of South Carolina. If you are facing criminal charges in any of these courts, call or text (864) 810-0384.

The main courthouses that deal with cases involving crimes against people in Charleston, Greenville and Richland Counties include:

Charleston County

Charleston County Circuit Court

100 Broad St.

Ste. 106

Charleston, South Carolina 29401

(843) 958-5000

Judges: Deadra L. Jefferson, Roger M. Young, Sr.

Court clerk: Julie J. Armstrong

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday 

Charleston Municipal Court

180 Lockwood Blvd.

Charleston, SC 29403

Phone: (843) 724-7460

List of Charleston Municipal Court Judges

Court Director: Lakesiya L. Cofield

Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Charleston County Magistrate Courts

Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Service Building

4045 Bridge View Drive, Ste. B143

North Charleston, SC 29405

Phone: (843) 202-6600

List of Charleston County Magistrates

Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville County

Greenville County Circuit Court

305 E. North St.

Greenville, SC 29601

(864) 467-8551

Chief Magistrate: Mark C. Edmonds

List of other judges in Greenville County Circuit Court

Court Clerk: Paul B. Wickensimer

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Greenville Municipal Court

426 N. Main St.

Greenville, SC 29601

Phone: (864) 467-6650

List of Greenville County Municipal Judges

Court Clerk: Pam Larson

Court Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Greenville Magistrate Court Map

Richland County

Richland County Circuit Court

1701 Main Street

Columbia, South Carolina 29201

(803) 576-1950

Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal (retired)

Court clerk: Jeannette McBride

Court hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Richland County Magistrate Court

Central Court

2500 Decker Blvd.

Columbia, SC 29206

Phone: (803) 576-2300

Judge: Benjamin Franklin Byrd

Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Upper Township

Upper Township Magistrate

400 Northeast Dr. Ste. I

Columbia, SC 29203

Phone: (803) 576-2570

Chief Magistrate: Judge Tomothy Clinton Edward

Court Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What Are Legal Defenses to South Carolina Crimes Against People Charges?

Individuals who are accused of crimes against people in South Carolina have certain rights and defenses available to them. Our seasoned lead attorney Freddy Woods, knowledgeable associate attorneys and excellent support staff will thoroughly assess the details of your case to identify the best defenses to it. Defenses include:

  • Consent

Consent is a defense to certain crimes against people. When an element of the crime is that you did something against the alleged victim’s will but you had their permission, you can assert this defense.

  • Mistaken Identity

Eyewitness identification is notoriously unreliable. Mistaken identity in which a witness or victim identifies a defendant as the perpetrator of the crime has repeatedly resulted in exoneration of defendants once these accounts were determined to be unfounded. Our legal team will actively challenge any eyewitness identification of you and uncover reasons for a mistaken identity.

  • Alibi

When a person was somewhere else at the time the crime was committed and could not have physically committed the crime, a viable alibi defense emerges.

  • Self-Defense

Self-defense applies in many cases involving crimes against people, including cases of assault and battery, manslaughter and murder. South Carolina law recognizes your right to use violence in order to protect yourself, your family and your home. This defense can help you to avoid conviction completely or lessen the possible criminal penalties.

  • Intoxication

In some cases, if you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a defense or a mitigating factor that reduces the possible sentence you receive. Talk to our skilled criminal defense lawyers to see if this defense applies in your case.

  • Justification

Some crimes can be committed when there is legal justification for it. For example, murder is an unlawful killing. In rare circumstances, killing might be justified under the circumstances, such as if people’s lives are in danger due to the purported victim’s extreme actions.

  • Inability to Commit the Crime

Purported victims may claim that you committed a crime against them that you were not physically capable of committing. For example, a person may accuse you of making a threat that was not possible to carry out or of committing a sex crime that involved penetration when you are impotent.

  • Entrapment

The defense of entrapment results when the government sets up a situation and encourages someone to commit a crime that the person ordinarily would not commit without this encouragement. For example, a law enforcement officer may pose as a prostitute to entice a person to commit solicitation.

The highly-regarded legal team at The Woods Law Firm will carefully review the circumstances surrounding your case and mount the best criminal defense possible.

Contact The Woods Law Firm for an Immediate Consultation

When you are facing serious crimes against people charges in South Carolina, you must hire a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who will be able to investigate the case and come up with an effective defense. Our well-respected criminal defense team can work toward having you acquitted by proving that there isn’t adequate evidence in the case or that you are innocent of the charges. The excellent criminal defense attorneys and staff at The Woods Law Firm are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and your freedom. We provide a 24/7-365 commitment and can be reached by calling (864) 298-8111, texting (864) 810-0384 or emailing thewoodsfirm@gmail.com.