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SC Juvenile Justice System: What You Should Know

SC Juvenile Justice System: What You Should Know

In South Carolina, the terms “juvenile” or “child” refer to persons less than 17 years of age. However, the terms “child” and “juvenile” are not applicable when a person is 16-years-old or older and charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony as defined in SC Code Section 16-1-20 or a felony that holds a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years or more. However, the Solicitor may use discretion to remand those felonies back to family court for disposition.

Entering the System

Children can enter the juvenile justice system in South Carolina by law enforcement or by a referral from SC DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) or a Circuit Solicitor. Depending on the nature of the charge, law enforcement may decide to send the child to a juvenile detention center, pending a hearing.

After DJJ submits its recommendations, the Solicitor uses its discretion to do any of the following: divert a juvenile to a community program (e.g. drug court or juvenile arbitration), require restitution, proceed with prosecution in Juvenile Court, or dismiss the case.

Juvenile Court

During Juvenile Court, the family court judge has to determine the guilty or innocence of a juvenile and with sentencing juveniles “adjudicated delinquent” (found guilty). Often the family court judge will order a DJJ evaluation before making his final determination.

The evaluation occurs over the course of a few weeks at one of the three regional evaluation centers and produces an evaluation report that is submitted to the family court judge, DJJ, the Solicitor, and defense attorney for review.

A family court judge may find the juvenile “not delinquent” (not guilty) or “delinquent” (guilty). If found delinquent, a juvenile may be put on probation, given a “determinant” sentence (specific amount of time), or given an “indeterminate” commitment. Indeterminate commitment involves being held for indefinite period of time up to the age of 21. The indefinite period will vary depending on the type of charge, juvenile’s history, and the evaluation of juvenile’s behavior and progress.

After a juvenile’s commitment, DJJ may grant a juvenile conditional or unconditional release. Conditional release could involve parole supervision and/or programs at a wilderness camp or group home.

Protecting Futures for Nearly 20 Years

If you or a loved one has been reported to the juvenile justice system, contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC. Our attorneys have extensive experience with juvenile cases and complex court cases. Our team can help you navigate the complex juvenile system and advocate for you every step of the way.

Juvenile convictions can follow you through adulthood. Many background checks report juvenile crimes which can destroy future employment and education opportunities. It is crucial that you consult a qualified attorney. When your future is at stake, entrust your case to the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC.

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