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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 someone younger than 17 years old. These terms are not applicable to those who are 16 or older and have felony charges according to the SC Code Section 16-1-20. Additionally, crimes that have a maximum prison sentence of 15 or more years are not considered juvenile offenders and are likely tried as adults.

Entering the System

A minor may enter the juvenile justice system by being arrested or through a referral from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. Circuit solicitors can also recommend a minor for the system. Where a minor goes and how they are treated depends on the type of charge. In some cases, police may choose to send the child to a detention center instead of allowing them to be released on conditional probation.

Once the Department of Juvenile Justice submits their recommendation for the case, the Solicitor will assign the minor to a facility or community program according to their discretion. In some cases, the Solicitor may order restitution or counseling. If the Solicitor believes the child has gone through enough they can choose to dismiss the case entirely.

Juvenile Court

In juvenile court, family court judges are responsible for determining the guilt or innocence of a child and can sentence them as an adjudicated delinquent. This means that the child is found guilty and will be dealt with accordingly. In some cases, a family court judge may request an evaluation of the case to determine whether the juvenile was coerced by a parent or acting out because of abuse.

If a family judge makes a formal request, the evaluation begins. This process can take several weeks and involves a report submitted to the family court judge and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Based on this report, the court can choose to remove the child from their home or pursue other methods of protection and/or rehabilitation.

If the evaluation suggests that the juvenile is guilty (delinquent) of their own accord, the family court judge could also recommend detention for an indeterminate sentence. In other words, the child could be held in custody until they are 21. The child’s release could be earlier if they show remorse and are successfully rehabilitated.

Juvenile offenders can be released conditionally or unconditionally. In other words, similar to a probationary period conditional release requires the offender to abide by specific rules and obey the law or face charges of violating their conditional release.

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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