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South Carolina Murders Are on the Rise and They’re Highly Personal

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A recent report on crime in South Carolina paints a troubling mixed picture. Though violent crimes in the state have decreased over the past decade, the murder rate has shot up.

The 2018 Crime in South Carolina Book reports that murders increased by nearly 24 percent, from 317 in 2009 to 393 in 2018. What’s more, 61 percent of murder victims knew their killers, either as family members, intimate partners, business associates or general acquaintances. Victims and killers were confirmed strangers in only 10 percent of the murders reported.

The state report does not venture an explanation for this stark finding, but the statistics are related in part to South Carolina’s broad definition of murder: the killing of another person with “malice aforethought.” Unlike other states, South Carolina does not define murder as a premeditated taking of life. Any voluntary and deliberate act that results in death may be considered malicious, even if causing death was not the intention.

As a consequence, South Carolina murder or manslaughter convictions are often based on fatal episodes of violence between people who knew each other, sparked by family or personal disputes in which there may have been no contemplation that death would occur. Notably, the 2018 murder statistics do not include deaths caused by negligence, suicide, accident or justifiable homicide, which means that virtually any other voluntary act may meet the definition of murder. The takeaway message is that murder charges must be met by the strongest and best-prepared criminal defense possible.

Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law has handled thousands of criminal cases in South Carolina, working diligently to protect the rights of defendants and to achieve the most positive outcomes possible. If you or a loved one is in need of advice pertaining to murder defense or defense against other violent crime charges, call 800-701-0599 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation at our Columbia office.

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  • Columbia Office
    1720 Main St
    Columbia, South Carolina 29201-2850
    Phone: (803) 765-2626
    Fax: 803-799-4059
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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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