Charleston Juvenile Crimes Attorneys
Juvenile Criminal Defense in Charleston, Summerville, and throughout South Carolina
If a child is accused of a crime, their case will progress through the family court, and a judge will determine whether or not they have committed the offense. Although the steps a juvenile criminal case may go through appear similar to those of an adult criminal matter, they are very different. Thus, if your child is facing charges, you need a juvenile crimes attorney in Charleston, South Carolina, on your side who understands this system and will fight hard to protect your child's future.
At Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., we recognize that children are still learning about the world and might make mistakes that get them into serious trouble. That is why our Charleston juvenile crimes lawyers provide compassionate yet aggressive defense to help them through this frightening time. Our team has handled a variety of complex juvenile criminal cases in South Carolina. We know how to build innovative strategies to attack allegations and seek favorable results for our clients. When you turn to us, we will get to know you and your child and learn about the alleged situation to develop a defense for their unique circumstances.
What Is the Juvenile Justice System?
In South Carolina, a juvenile will proceed through hearings and evaluations to determine how best to resolve their matter.
The exact process a child may go through depends on their circumstances, but may include the following:
Accused of a Violation
A child will enter the juvenile justice system after they have been accused of a violation. In some cases, they may have allegedly committed a criminal offense. In others, the accusation may be for a status offense. Status offenses are those such as running away from home or not attending school. Essentially, these are violations that would not result in charges if committed by an adult.
Taken into Custody
A law enforcement official will then take the child into custody. This part of the process is similar to an arrest in an adult case.
At this stage, the officer has one of two options:
- Release the child to a parent, or
- Have the child detained at a juvenile detention center
Specific eligibility requirements must be met for a child to be held by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). For instance, the child must have been accused of a violent crime or had a deadly weapon during the alleged offense.
Attend a Detention Hearing
If the child has been detained, they must be scheduled for a detention hearing. At this proceeding, which must take place within 48 hours, a judge will determine whether detaining the child is justified and whether the detention must continue.
At the detention hearing, the child should have legal representation. However, they can waive this right but only after consulting with an attorney.
Recommended to Circuit Solicitor's Office
The DJJ will send the child's case to the Circuit Solicitor's office.
The Solicitor may decide to do any of the following:
- Place the child in a diversion program instead of prosecuting the case
- Have the child pay restitution
- Dismiss the case
- Prosecute the case
Attend Additional Hearings
If the Solicitor moves forward with prosecution, the case will be sent to a family court, where a couple of hearings will be held:
- Adjudication: This is where a family court judge decides whether the child is guilty (delinquent) or not guilty (not delinquent).
- Disposition: If the judge finds the child delinquent, the case moves on to disposition. At this phase, the judge will determine what sentence to impose. Typically, the judge will have the child evaluated before sentencing.
At Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., our juvenile crimes attorneys in Charleston are here to answer your questions about process and guide you through each stage.
What Are the Penalties for a Juvenile Crime Conviction in South Carolina?
Technically, if a family court judge decides that the child committed the violation, they will be adjudicated delinquent and not "convicted" of the crime.
If a child is adjudicated delinquent, they may face the following sanctions:
- Determinate commitment to a DJJ facility
- Indeterminate commitment to a DJJ facility until the child’s 21st birthday
The sentence imposed depends on the particular facts of the child's case.
Our juvenile crimes lawyers help those in Charleston and Summerville with legal matters involving minors. We know what impacts being adjudicated delinquent can have, which is why we fight hard toward an optimal result for your child.
Can a Minor Be Tried as an Adult in South Carolina?
Generally, if a child is accused of a crime, the juvenile justice system will handle their case. However, in some situations, they could be prosecuted as an adult.
In South Carolina, a child can be tried as an adult when they:
- Have been charged with murder;
- Are 17 years of age and committed a Class A, B, C, or D felony (section 63-19-20);
- Are between 14 and 16 years of age and they committed a Class A, B, C, or D felony (section 63-19-1210(5)); or
- Are 14 years of age or older and accused of having a weapon or drugs on or near school property
For the most up-to-date information on when a child can be tried as an adult, please refer directly to the laws on the government’s site.
If your child is charged as an adult, our criminal defense lawyers can provide the legal representation you need.
Call Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A. Today
Your child has rights, and we are here to protect them. Our South Carolina juvenile criminal lawyers will be by your side throughout their case, explaining the potential outcomes and your legal options.