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The Woods Law Firm

South Carolina State Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer

Columbia SC Criminal Lawyer

When you are facing a state crime charge, it is fundamental to your defense to work with a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the procedures and local courts in your area. At The Woods Law Firm, our seasoned criminal defense lawyers have more than 24 years of experience working in ALL 46 counties in South Carolina. Our familiarity with the local courts and procedures will aid you tremendously in your defense. Some of the state crimes that we can defend you against, the penalties for these offenses and an explanation of your rights and defenses are discussed below. For further information, call or text us at (864) 810-0384.

What Is a State Crime?

A state crime is one that is illegal under the state laws. Local or state police typically investigate the case. It is prosecuted by a city or county prosecutor. It is distinct from a federal crime in which a federal law has been violated, the case is investigated by a federal agency like the FBI and is prosecuted by federal prosecutors. Common state crimes include:

What Is Perjury in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Code of Laws § 16-9-10 defines perjury to intentionally give court testimony that is false, misleading or incomplete or to give such information on a document, record or report required by law. This crime can also be charged if a person convinces someone else to commit perjury.

How Is Obstruction of Justice in South Carolina Defined?

Obstruction of justice is a common law crime, meaning that there is not a specific statute for it but the courts recognize it. It involves taking any action that prevents, impedes or interferes with the administration of justice.

What Is Aiding and Abetting in a South Carolina Charge?

Aiding and abetting is the act of helping, encouraging or assisting another person to commit a crime.

What Is a Criminal Conspiracy in South Carolina?

SC Code of Laws § 16-17-410 defines a criminal conspiracy in South Carolina as a plan between two or more people to accomplish an unlawful act. The conspiracy does not need to be accomplished in order for the crime to be charged; an attempt is enough.

Can I Be Charged for Attempting a Crime in South Carolina?

Yes. Many criminal definitions of South Carolina do not require that a crime be carried out. Often, an attempt is enough. For example, a person can be charged with attempting murder, to poison someone, to commit a crime with bodily armor, to enter a person’s place of employment while subject to an order of protection, or to solicit someone to get them involved in human trafficking. Attempt crimes are also referred to as “inchoate crimes” and often subject a person to the same penalty as one that would be administered if the crime was fully carried out.

What Are the Penalties for State Crimes in South Carolina?

State crimes range from misdemeanor offenses that usually carry a maximum of one year in jail to felony offenses that can result in a life sentence. Some of the penalties for state crimes in South Carolina include:

  • Penalty for Conspiracy

Conspiracy is considered a felony in South Carolina. The penalty for criminal conspiracy is a fine up to $5,000 or imprisonment of up to five years. However, a person cannot be given a sentence or fine that is more than he would have received if he carried out the crime he was considering as part of the conspiracy and had been convicted of violating that particular law.

  • Penalty for Perjury

Providing false testimony in court is considered a felony and carries a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment and a fine assigned by the court in its discretion. Providing false information on a document, record or report is considered a misdemeanor that can result in imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of less than $100.

  • Penalty for Obstruction of Justice

Obstruction of justice carries a maximum punishment of ten years’ imprisonment.

  • Penalty for Aiding and Abetting

SC Code of Laws § 48-43-830 states that the punishment for aiding or abetting carries the same punishment as the violation of the law that was aided and abetted. For example, aiding and abetting a murder can result in the death penalty or a life sentence.

Which South Carolina Courts Hear Criminal Cases?

South Carolina consists of 46 counties with Charleston, Richland and Greenville Counties being the largest in the state. The court that hears the criminal case depends on whether the crime is considered a misdemeanor or felony offense. Municipal or magistrate courts hear misdemeanor cases and there are more than 300 magistrates across the state. General Sessions Courts hear felony cases. 

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

The main courthouses that deal with cases involving state crimes in the largest counties include:

Charleston County

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: 8l30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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 

Richland County

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 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.

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

Greenville County

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

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

Stages of a Criminal Case and Trial in South Carolina

The criminal process in South Carolina is very long and confusing. Important stages of a criminal case and trial in South Carolina include the following:

  1. Investigation

After a crime is committed, the appropriate law enforcement agency will begin an investigation, gather evidence and interview witnesses. During this stage, police may question you. It is important to remember that you have the right to remain silent and do not have to talk to police, no matter how much they insist on it. You also have the right to an attorney, which you should exercise as quickly in the process as possible. Having an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer from The Woods Law Firm on your side at this stage ensures that you have someone focused solely on protecting your rights. Early intervention often results in no charges being filed against our clients or an early dismissal of them.

        2. Arrest

The next stage is the arrest. Law enforcement must read you your Miranda rights, including your right to remain silent and to hire an attorney. Police will book you. You will be photographed and fingerprinted. You will also have the warrant read to you.

        3. Bond Hearing

At the bond hearing, the judge will determine if you can be released and how much the bond will be. The judge considers several factors, such as whether you pose a danger to society, the seriousness of the offense and whether there is a flight risk. After you pay bail or are released on your own recognizance, you are released from police custody. The judge will also determine your conditions of release.

        4. Preliminary Hearing

Your preliminary hearing is a brief court hearing in which the court confirms you have a lawyer. The court also establishes a schedule for the next set of court dates.

        5. Second Hearing

You will have another hearing about 90 days after your arrest. During this stage, you will also be able to examine the nature of the evidence against you and review discovery in the case. Sometimes, a plea deal may arise at this stage of the case. Our skilled South Carolina criminal defense team will fiercely negotiate with the DA. If there is not adequate evidence, we will fight diligently to have the charges dismissed against you. While the case proceeds to trial, our knowledgeable and insightful South Carolina criminal defense lawyers will file pretrial motions to suppress evidence against you or move for a dismissal of the charges on other grounds.

        6. Disposition

The disposition of the case can occur at any stage in the process, but it often occurs after your second hearing. Disposition can result if the charges are dismissed against you. Alternatively, you may enter into a pre-trial intervention program if you are a first-time offender. When our experienced criminal defense lawyers are involved in your case, we will work diligently to work out an arrangement in which you enter this type of program, complete it and then have the criminal charges against you dismissed. When this is not possible, we will explore all opportunities for a favorable plea bargain in which you agree to plead guilty in exchange for a dismissal of some of the charges, a reduced charge or a reduced sentence.

        7. Trial

If a dismissal or plea bargain is not available in your case and you do not plead guilty, the case proceeds to a trial in front of a judge or jury. The prosecutor has the burden of establishing that you committed every element of the crime by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The lawyers at The Woods Law Firm have more than 24 years of experience in trial practice that they will put to use to challenge evidence and cross-examine state witnesses. After the trial, the jury renders a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If you are found not guilty, the trial process will end. If you are found guilty, the next stage is the appeals process.

        8. Criminal Appeals

After a guilty verdict, you can fight to appeal (reverse) the decision. An appeal is based on some type of mistake made during the trial process, such as the judge making a bad decision contrary to law that impacted the finding of guilt. It can also be based on prosecutorial misconduct, such as the prosecutor failing to provide your lawyer with information he was legally required to provide. A successful appeal can result in the case being dismissed against you or an order for a new trial.

While this procedure can vary from person to person and county to county, this is the general process of a criminal case in South Carolina. If you have been charged with a crime, please contact the resourceful legal team at The Woods Law Firm so we can guide you step-by-step through this process and fight to defend your rights. Call us at (864) 810-0384 to get started on achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

        9. Expungement and Record Sealing

To reduce the effect that a criminal record has on a person, many people want to expunge or have their record sealed. With an expungement order, certain agencies must destroy the arrest and booking record and other documents related to them. South Carolina allows the expungement of several criminal records, including the following:

  • Criminal charges that were dismissed
  • Criminal charges that resulted in a finding of not guilty
  • Criminal charges that are resolved through the completion of a pre-trial intervention program
  • Charges resolved through an alcohol education program First offense for bad checks
  • First offense for failure to stop for a law enforcement vehicle
  • Most first offense convictions in municipal or magistrate court if the defendant has no other convictions for three year
  • Simple possession of marijuana charges if resolved through conditional discharge
  • Some offenses when the defendant was convicted when he was under 25 years old

At The Woods Law Firm, our continual focus is on protecting your legal rights and your best interests. We will explore all opportunities to minimize the impact of any arrest or conviction, including expungement and record sealing.

How Are Parole and Probation Violations Handled in South Carolina?

Probation may be ordered by the court in a criminal case after a finding of guilt. During probation, you will need to meet with your probation officer at specified intervals and comply with various conditions, such as:

  • Completing community service hours
  • Paying fines, fees, assessments and restitution
  • Not drinking alcohol or doing drugs
  • Not possessing a firearm

These conditions are decided on a case-by-case basis. If a probation violation occurs, the defendant can be required to appear before a judge. If the judge determines that a violation did occur, he or she can do any of the following:

  • Revoke probation
  • Extend the term of probation
  • Sentence the defendant to jail time
  • Add additional probation conditions
  • Order ankle monitoring or house arrest

When determining a sentence, the judge can consider many circumstances, including:

  • Your living situation
  • Your family situation and support system
  • The circumstances surrounding your original criminal case
  • Your criminal history
  • Your employment and educational status

Parole occurs when a person is released from prison and is paroled through the parole board or via a statute that requires mandatory parole. Each parole case is different. Defendants may be required to regularly report to a parole officer in person, by phone or by mail.

If a defendant violates parole, he can be brought in front of the parole board which then determines consequences, which can include revoking parole and returning to prison to finish the sentence. Alternatively, the board can order the defendant to continue on parole.

How Are Juvenile Crimes in South Carolina Different than Other Crimes?

Juvenile crimes are codified in the South Carolina Juvenile Justice Code. When a juvenile gets in trouble with the law, he or she is not served with an arrest warrant. Law enforcement or another person can file a petition in family court that allege the child committed a crime. Common crimes that juveniles are charged with include:

  • Carrying a weapon or other weapon charges
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Underage drinking
  • Assault and battery
  • Theft

Alternatively, the juvenile can be charged with a status offense that only applies to child offenders, such as:

  • Truancy
  • Running away from home
  • Using false identification
  • Acting beyond the parent’s control (incorrigibility)

In South Carolina, law enforcement officers are allowed to question a child when his or her parents are not present. Law enforcement may take the child into custody and can decide whether to release the child to his parents or refer the case to the Department of Juvenile, which places the child in an approved home or facility other than a juvenile detention center. If the child is placed into custody, the child undergoes an intake process that includes an assessment of the child’s psychological, educational and social factors. Juvenile caseworkers interview the child and his parents and gather documentation related to the child, such as medical and educational information. Caseworkers identify services that may benefit the child, such as substance abuse treatment or individual or family counseling. 

The family court hears a detention hearing within 48 hours from the time the child was taken into custody (not including weekends or holidays). The family court can decide to send the child to a juvenile detention facility until another hearing takes place under limited situations, such as if the child is accused of a violent crime or deadly weapon or there is not a better alternative and detention is in the child’s best interests. Children under 11 can’t be sentenced to a juvenile detention center and children who are 11 or 12 can only be detained there if the family court orders it.

The child is entitled to legal representation during detention hearings. At the hearing, the court can consider any evidence relevant to the question of detention. In some cases, the family court appoints a guardian ad litem, who is a person who considers the child’s best interests and communicates with the court about them. Juvenile court proceedings are not open to the public as it is desired to protect the juvenile’s privacy. In some situations, a minor can be tried as an adult. In these cases, the juvenile has a right to a jury trial. If the case is not transferred to adult criminal court, the child does not get a jury trial.

One significant difference between juvenile crimes and other state crimes in South Carolina is the goal of judicial interference. When adults are tried for a crime, the goal is usually to punish them for their bad acts or to deter similar action in the future. When a juvenile is charged, the intent is usually to rehabilitate the minor so that he or she does not commit crimes as an adult. Juveniles might have options not available to adult defendants, such as diversion programs that result in a dismissal of charges and may include:

  • Arbitration in which a third-party neutral and not a judge decides the case
  • Drug court where a child is required to complete a substance abuse treatment program
  • Community services that may be ordered instead of a sentence to juvenile detention

The juvenile has an adjudicatory hearing where he or she pleads guilty or not guilty. If the juvenile defendant pleads not guilty, the solicitor must prove the minor committed the offense.

If the family court judge determines that the juvenile is delinquent, the judge considers a variety of information before determining the disposition of the case, such as the child’s behavior at home, any prior criminal history, the seriousness of the offense and other information. The family court can then take a number of actions, including:

  • Ordering medical or psychological services
  • Suspending the child’s driver’s license
  • Placing the child on probation
  • Ordering the child to participate in a community mentor program
  • Committing the child to a juvenile detention facility for a set term or up until the child is 21 years of age

What Are the Defenses to State Crimes?

When criminal charges are filed against you, you have the constitutional right to legal representation and certain defenses apply. Our dedicated legal team will review the circumstances of your case and identify defenses, such as:

  • Defense of Insanity

South Carolina law recognizes insanity as a defense if the defendant is unable to distinguish right from wrong or did not understand the nature of their acts because of a disease of the mind. This defense is very exact and to successfully implement it, you need a seasoned attorney who is knowledgeable with the intricacies of this defense and has successfully asserted it in similar cases.

  • Defense of Intoxication

Intoxication is a valid defense in some cases if you were too intoxicated to develop the requisite mental state to commit all elements of the crime.

  • Defense of Mistake

A mistake of fact defense arises when you were wrong about a particular fact involved in the case. For example, burglary is committed when you did not have consent to enter the property. When a defendant thought the property was his own or that someone who was not actually the owner was the owner and gave him permission to enter, this defense can arise.

A mistake of law is a more particular defense that only arises in certain situations, such as when you relied on a law that was later overturned. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can explain when these defenses apply.

  • Defense of Necessity

A defense of necessity arises when you had to commit the crime in order to prevent a significant, imminent danger.

  • Defense of Self-Defense

South Carolina recognizes your right to protect yourself, others and your property. We will assert this defense when you are charged with a violent crime and the alleged victim was actually the aggressor.

Contact The Woods Law Firm to Get Started Immediately on Your Defense

The punishments for state crimes in South Carolina are harsh, so it is critical to hire an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer who can investigate your case, develop an effective defense strategy and fight to protect your rights at every stage o your case. You do not want to handle a criminal charge alone, so seek the professional legal help you need to successfully fight your battle. Call The Woods Law Firm at (864) 298-8111, text us at (864) 810-0384 for an immediate case consultation or email us at thewoodsfirm@gmail.com.