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How Does South Carolina’s Three Strikes Law Work?

How Does South Carolina’s Three Strikes Law Work?

If you’ve been charged with a crime in South Carolina, it’s vital to understand the state’s sentencing scheme. South Carolina is one of the few states to have both a two-strikes and three-strikes law on the books, imposing particularly harsh punishments for repeat offenders.

How does the Three Strikes Law work?

South Carolina’s 3 Strike Law states that a defendant will be subject to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for a second or third criminal conviction of a serious offense, or a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense consider “serious” by the state.

However, not all crimes count as “strikes” in terms of the two-strikes and three-strikes law. Offenses like breaking the speed limit or shoplifting would not be covered. The law only deals with crimes that fall within the categories of “most serious offense” and “serious offense.” The sentencing enhancements for these are as follows:

  • Two-strikes provision — A person will automatically receive a sentence of life in prison without parole if he is convicted of a most serious offense after a previous conviction for another most serious offense.
  • Three-strikes provision — A person will receive the same sentence if he commits a most serious offense after two prior convictions for serious offenses, or if he commits a serious offense after two convictions for a serious offense and/or most serious offense.

What is considered “serious” or “most serious” is not up to a judge or jury. The specific types of crimes that belong to each category are listed in the state’s criminal procedure laws.

What are Most Serious offences in South Carolina?

“Most serious” offenses include crimes that result in the death of another person, whether or not intended.  First and second degree criminal sexual misconduct and first-degree assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping and armed robbery are also among the “most serious” offenses.

What are Serious offences in South Carolina?

“Serious” offenses include but are not limited to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, second degree burglary, embezzlement of public funds, drug trafficking, insurance fraud and first-degree domestic violence.

Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law defends individuals in danger of spending life in prison because of the two-strikes or three-strikes law. Mr. Swerling delivers aggressive and strategic defenses in all criminal cases. To schedule your free initial consultation, call 800-701-0599 or contact us online.

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Jack Swerling In The News >>

  • Jack Swerling, Derrick Mobley and Alissa Wilson were successful in having a Judge rule after an extensive hearing, that the defendant was immune from prosecution based on the “Stand Your Ground” law in a murder prosecution. The Judgment was handed down on March 29, 2021.
  • Jack Swerling, Gregory Harris and Alissa Wilson obtained a Not Guilty Verdict in Lexington County on March 3, 2022. An Orthopedic Surgeon was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of a friend.
  • “When Jack is on my docket, I tell my law clerks, ‘You do not want to miss this. You are seeing one of the greatest trial lawyers in the state’s history.'” -South Carolina Circuit Court Judge
  • Jack was selected to Super Lawyers Magazine Top Ten List for 2019. Each year Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in South Carolina via a selection process involving peer evaluations, independent research and professional achievement. The South Carolina lawyers who receive the highest points during this selection process are further recognized in the South Carolina Super Lawyers Top Ten List.
  • USA v. FRANK*: In a child pornography case, Swerling was successful in obtaining a 22 level variance reducing the defendant’s sentence from 8 years to 6 months.
  • STATE v. BORIS: The defendant was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a case where the defendant was involved in a shoot-out with 3 police officers.
  • STATE v. TYGER: Jack Swerling obtains a not guilty verdict in a criminal sexual conduct case in Beaufort County.
  • Pre Trial Dispositions: STATE v. DWAYNE: Mr. Swerling successfully argued for the dismissal of stalking and unlawful use of telephone charges brought against a prominent businessman in Florence County.
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