Lawmakers Consider Adding Three Strikes Offenses In South Carolina

People accused of committing violent crimes in South Carolina know that aggressive criminal defense from an experienced trial lawyer can make a difference in the final outcome. State criminal statutes, particularly South Carolina's "two strikes, three strikes" law, are intended to put convicted violent felons behind bars for life if they have previous convictions.

The South Carolina criminal code provides that a person convicted of a "most serious offense" must be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if that person has:

  • One or more prior convictions for a "most serious offense" (or an equivalent federal offense or crime from another state); or
  • Two or more prior convictions for a "serious offense" (or its federal or out-of-state equivalent)

The current list of most serious offenses includes murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, assault with intent to kill, arson, carjacking and several degrees of criminal sexual conduct, among many other felonies. Attempt and accessory charges are included for all listed offenses. Serious offenses include lesser-degrees of assault and sex crimes, but also non-violent theft crimes, drug crimes and white collar crimes such as embezzlement of public funds, insurance fraud and obtaining a signature or property by false pretenses.

Separate bills proposed in the South Carolina House and Senate would add the following crimes to the list of serious offenses:

  • Criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature
  • Discharging firearms toward buildings, equipment or vehicles
  • Resisting arrest with a deadly weapon
  • Taking a firearm or other weapon from a law enforcement officer
  • Common law assault and robbery crimes

People who have previous criminal convictions have many things to consider if they are facing charges of a violent crime. A South Carolina criminal defense lawyer can explain everything from potentially excluding prejudicial evidence of past crimes to strategies that seek to reduce the severity of charges and avoid the harshest consequences of a conviction.

South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina Association for JusticeSouth Carolina Association for JusticeRichland County Bar AssociationRichland County Bar Association2015 Legal Elite of the Midlands2015 Legal Elite of the Midlands