The South Carolina Department of Justice processes more than 13,000 cases involving children between the ages of 10 and 17 every year. Approximately ten percent of these cases involve violent crimes.
Defining violent crimes
Typically, violent crimes involve a perpetrator threatening or committing physical harm. In the state of South Carolina, violent crimes only refer to the crimes listed in SC Code Section 16-1-60. Crimes that the section does not list cannot legally be described as violent offenses, even if the crime caused harm to a victim.
The crimes listed as violent crimes in SC Code Section 16-1-60 include:
• Murder and attempted murder
• Voluntary manslaughter
• Criminal sexual conduct
• Armed robbery and attempted armed robbery
• Homicide of a child due to abuse
• Inflicting bodily injury on a child
South Carolina juvenile attorney requirement
Although adults may waive the right to an attorney, the state of South Carolina requires all teen offenders to have an attorney. If the parent or guardian qualifies for a public defender based on their income, the court may assign one to the teen. Otherwise, the court will force the parents to obtain a private attorney.
Juvenile vs. adult
The court considers someone a juvenile if they were 16 or younger when they committed the alleged crime. In certain cases, the courts may try teenagers 16 or younger as adults. Typically, these offenses must involve one of the following:
• Charged with an offense that carries a 15-year sentence term or longer
• Carrying weapons on school property
• Distributing drugs near a school
• Certain types of assault and battery
• Unlawfully possessing a handgun
Protecting their futures
Teenagers face personal decisions every day that may tempt them to commit violent crimes. While these may be devastating to you as a parent, your focus must be on getting them the help they need so that they can still have a future outside of the prison system.