South Carolina Criminal Sentencing – When charged with a crime, there is a lot of uncertainty. Just a few of the things that need to be considered are the collateral consequences of a conviction, how strong the case is against you, what to do about hiring an attorney, and what the defense strategy will be.
One of the first questions that people ask when they call our office seeking legal representation is how much prison time they may be facing. The sentencing consequences are by far one of the most prevalent things in the mind of people charged with a crime. In this blog, we will discuss South Carolina criminal sentencing. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
Different from North Carolina criminal sentencing
North Carolina criminal convictions follow structured sentencing, which gives the judges some strict guidelines to follow. Structured sentencing uses a chart that considers the severity of the crime, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and mitigating and aggravating factors.
In North Carolina, misdemeanors follow the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines and felonies follow the North Carolina felony sentencing guidelines. Additionally, DWIs follow the North Carolina DWI sentencing guidelines.
South Carolina does not follow structured sentencing for criminal matters.
Different from federal criminal sentencing
Federal crimes in any state follow the federal sentencing guidelines. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the category of crime, relevant conduct of the defendant, the criminal record of the defendant, and many other factors are considered. The judge is then given a relatively large degree of latitude with what sentence to impose, and they can even order a sentence that is outside of the guideline range.
South Carolina does not follow sentencing guidelines for criminal matters.
Sentencing for criminal matters in South Carolina
Regarding South Carolina criminal sentencing, each individual crime, whether statutory or following common law, has individual penalties and punishments. This means that when someone is charged with a crime, their criminal defense attorney must look up the particular charge and see what the range of the punishment can be.
With some crimes, the range of possible punishments can be substantial. The judges in those cases have a lot of discretion regarding what to do. Because of this wide latitude, it becomes very important for your attorney to be able to make a good argument to the judge if you are convicted. Additionally, if there are multiple charges and/or multiple counts, the judge can order a consecutive sentence, meaning the defendant would serve multiple sentences back to back.
If you have been charged with a crime in South Carolina, you would be well served to seek professional help. If you are in need of a South Carolina criminal defense attorney, contact us.