The state of South Carolina organizes felony crimes into six different categories: Class A through Class F. Class A felonies represent the most significant offenses, while Class F crimes are the least serious felonies.
For information on misdemeanors, see South Carolina Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
South Carolina identifies some felonies that do not fall into the categorization system. Each of these "exempted" crimes has its own potential penalties. There are many such crimes exempted from the classification system, including crimes such as murder, incest, first-degree burglary, and failure to register as a sex offender.
Additionally, South Carolina law allows courts to impose a range of penalties for any crime not specifically exempted from the felony classifications or given a specified felony class.
Anyone convicted of a felony offense in South Carolina faces a potential prison sentence that depends on the class of the felony committed. The sentences associated with each class are maximum incarceration penalties, and individual sentences in any given case could be less.
In addition to incarceration, someone convicted of a felony in South Carolina may also be sentenced to pay a fine. Unlike prison terms, each class of felonies does not have an associated fine. Instead, each criminal statute states a fine, range of fines, or leaves it up to the court to impose a fine it deems appropriate.
For example, someone convicted of threatening the life, person, or family of a public official, a Class F felony, faces a fine of up to $5,000. On the other hand, someone convicted of stealing livestock valued at $10,000 or more, a Class E felony, faces a fine of up to $2,500.
The penalties associated with each exempted crime differ significantly. For example, someone convicted of murder faces a penalty of a minimum of 30 years to life in prison, or death. Someone convicted of incest faces a minimum $500 fine and a minimum of one year in prison.
For any non-specified felony, a court can impose an incarceration sentence of between three months and 10 years.
South Carolina felony statutes encompass a number of crimes. The following is a list of crimes at each felony level, though it is not representative of all felonies in South Carolina.
A statute of limitations is a law that requires prosecutors to file criminal charges in a specified timeframe. If prosecutors fail to file charges before time runs out, they cannot file charges later.
South Carolina is one of the few states that have no criminal statute of limitations. This means prosecutors can file criminal charges against a person no matter how long it has been since the crime took place. You can learn more about the state's law by reading South Carolina Criminal Statute of Limitations.
A local criminal defense attorney who has represented clients in local courts and who has negotiated with prosecutors in your area is the only person who is capable of giving you legal advice about your case. South Carolina felony charges are very serious and have significant potential penalties associated with them. You need to speak to a lawyer as soon as you are arrested, charged, or approached by investigators. Not consulting an experienced criminal lawyer can significantly damage your case and hurt your chance to present the best possible legal defense.