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. If a second or third criminal conviction falls within the criteria laid out in the state’s penal code, the defendant may be subject to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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.
“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.
“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.