When Can My Child Be Charged as an Adult in SC?

Someone broke into Union County High School and made a big mess, and 15 students have been arrested and charged with burglary second degree and malicious damage to property.

Surveillance video shows a group of students enter the school in Union near the library before throwing paint on the floor, walls, and lockers and throwing food on the floor.

Kids these days, right?

This sounds like the kind of stunt kids back in my day pulled. The only difference is, back then they almost certainly wouldn’t have been charged with serious crimes and tried as adults. And, no self-respecting news outlet would have published all their mugshots within hours of the arrests, which happened in this case.

Does It Make Sense to Charge Children as Adults?

Despite the fact that crime rates have fallen drastically for almost three decades, American politicians, prosecutors, police, and school administrators are still determined to maintain their tough-on-crime posturing.

It’s bad enough when they target adults and fill up prisons with non-violent offenders but charging children as adults for vandalism can leave them with a permanent criminal record, increase their chances of getting into trouble as adults, and destroy their futures before they even finish school.

Trying minors as adults is intended to deter crime. But research consistently shows that it doesn’t – in fact, children who are tried as adults and serve time in jail are rearrested 82 percent of the time.

When Can Children Be Charged as Adults?

South Carolina has juvenile courts, but a lot of children are tried as adults. Anyone 16 or older will be automatically charged as an adult if they face certain felony charges.

This is because SC law simply changes the definition of “child” when certain crimes are alleged. Any child who is 16 years of age or older and who is charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony … or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years or more, will automatically be charged as an adult instead of in juvenile court.

For serious and violent crimes, children as young as 14 can be charged as adults. This means they will be tried in General Sessions Courts, like all adults, rather than in Family Court.

Depending on the circumstances, your SC juvenile criminal defense attorney may be able to get the case sent back to Family Court. In some cases, however, it may be better to have the case tried in General Sessions – for example, if we know we have a solid defense and expect the jury to acquit. In juvenile court, there is no right to a jury trial…

Can They be Charged as Adults for Burglary 2nd Degree?

Burglary second degree, when it involves a building and aggravating factors are present (it happened at night), is classified as a violent offense and it carries up to 15 years in prison – which means if the child is 16 years or older, they will automatically be charged in General Sessions Court as an adult.

Juvenile Criminal Defense in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, SC

If your child has been charged with a crime, they must have an attorney looking out for their interests – call juvenile criminal defense attorney Lacey Thompson now at 843-444-6122 or fill out our online contact form if you have questions or to set up a free initial consultation.

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