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When Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult in South Carolina?

When Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult in South Carolina?

Minors who are arrested generally go through the juvenile justice system, which is considered family court. But when teenagers are accused of serious crimes, many states will treat them as adults and their cases will be heard in criminal court. 

Since July 2019, juveniles in South Carolina will automatically be tried as adults when they turn 18 years of age. Previously, the age limit was 17 years old. 

One of the main reasons why lawmakers decided to raise the age of youth offenders is to ensure they stay in the family court system, rather than being punished for their alleged offenses in adult court.  

The following are several benefits of juvenile court: 

  • The guiding standard is what is “the best interest of the child,” instead of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

  • Eligibility for juvenile arbitration, which is a diversion program that can lead to the dismissal of criminal charges. 

  • Access to counseling, educational, rehabilitative, and additional support services. 

In a juvenile case, the family court can order medical examination or treatment, participation in a community mentor program, place a minor on probation, restrict or suspend a minor’s driver’s license, or commit the minor to a South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice institution. After a child turns 18 years old and completed their sentence, he/she may be eligible for expungement. 

However, juvenile offenders who are charged with crimes carry a prison sentence of at least 15 years. Additionally, a person can be held under the DJJ’s custody from 21 years old to 22. 

If you or your child has been arrested in Lexington or within the surrounding area, contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC today at (803) 359-3301 and schedule a free consultation. Get more than 15 years of legal experience on your side! 


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