Juvenile Indigent Defense Delivery System
Indigent defense at the trial level in South Carolina is organized by the counties, but there is some state oversight. The state Office of Indigent Defense sets eligibility guidelines for clients, defines qualifications for attorneys, offers trainings and research materials, and distributes state funds to supplement county expenditures on public defense. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-3-330.
In turn, the bar association of each county organizes a nonprofit Defender Corporation, elects members to its board of directors, and establishes a public defender office to serve that county. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-3-60. The Defender Corporations are independent of both the state and county that fund them. In some cases, two or more counties have created joint Defender Corporations.
Appellate representation is provided by the Division of Appellate Defense within the statewide Commission on Indigent Defense. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-3-340.
Determination of Indigence
For juveniles in delinquency proceedings, indigence is determined according to the financial ability of their parents to pay for counsel. If the parents are found not to be indigent but refuse to retain counsel, the court may order the parents to reimburse the Indigent Defense Fund or pay the court-appointed attorney for their child’s legal costs. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-1040.
Applicants for public defense services must submit an affidavit stating their inability to retain counsel and listing their assets. The court may order partial payment if it finds that the person has sufficient funds to contribute to legal costs. There is a $40 fee to apply for public defense services, but the court may waive or reduce it. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-3-30.
The fact that an accused person may have previously engaged and partially paid private counsel does not prevent him or her from later being determined indigent and receiving public defense services. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-3-10.
Ages of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
The youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent is not specified by any statute.
A person who commits a crime after attaining the age of 17 will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-20.
The juvenile court can retain jurisdiction of a youth who committed a delinquent act prior to his/her 17th birthday until he/she turns 21. (Can only be on probation until 18). S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-510(B).
Right to Counsel Provision
In every delinquency proceeding, there shall be served upon the child, his parent, guardians or persons with whom the child resides a notice that he has a right to be represented by an attorney and if the parents are not able to employ an attorney, that an attorney will be appointed by the court to represent the child. S.C. Fam. Ct. R. 36.
Waiver of Counsel Provision
- No specific juvenile waiver of counsel statute, but juvenile case law indicates: The child can waive the right to counsel if it is knowing and intelligent but he has to be advised of his right to counsel and adequately warned of the dangers of self-representation. In the Interest of Christopher H., 596 S.E. 2d 500 (S.C. Ct. App. 2004)(applying Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1976).
- Conditions that prevent waiver of counsel: no child may waive counsel in a detention hearing unless he or she consulted at least once with an attorney. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-830.
- Other: The South Carolina Bar House of Delegates on January 22, 2004 approved a principle that “No child under the age of 18 should be allowed to waive counsel in the juvenile or criminal courts of this state when the child is facing the possibility of detention or confinement.”
Transfer to Adult Court §63-19-1210.
Click here for the National Center for Juvenile Justice’s summary of this state’s transfer provisions.
South Carolina has discretionary waiver, mandatory waiver, and statutory exclusion transfer provisions. Discretionary waiver can be used for youth age 14 and older or age 16 and older that meet the offense criteria (or any age for murder. § 63-19-1210(6)).
Mandatory waiver is required for youth age 14 and older accused of an offense punishable of at least 10 years imprisonment who have also been adjudicated or convicted for two prior offensespunishable of at least 10 years imprisonment. § 63-19-1210(10).
Statutory exclusion is required for youth age 16 and older accused of class A, B, C, or D felonies or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more. However, a person sixteen years of age who is charged with a Class A, B, C, or D felony or a felony which provides for a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen years or more may be remanded to the family court for disposition of the charge at solicitor’s discretion. §63-19-20(1).
- Code Section and Rules of Court: S.C. Code Ann. §§ 20-7-7205 to 20-7-7220; S.C. Fam. Ct. R. 31, 32.
- Detention Hearing: Within 48 hours of custody, excluding weekends and holidays (24 hours for status offense)
- Appointed Counsel at Detention Hearing: Yes. No child shall proceed w/o counsel unless right to counsel is waived after consultation with counsel. S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-830.
Life Without Parole
- There are 26 youths serving life without parole sentences in the state of South Carolina.
- South Carolina has 11.50 per 100,000 14-17 year olds serving life without parole sentences ranking it 18th out of the 40 states covered in the Amnesty International USA report The Rest of Their Lives: Life Without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States (2005).
- South Carolina has a ratio of 3.2 black youths for every white youth sentenced to life without parole giving it the 25th highest black/white ratio out of 27 states.
- There is No minimum age for prosecution as an adult in South Carolina (for murder only).
- There is No minimum age for sentencing a youth to life without parole in South Carolina.
- South Carolina has mandatory life without parole sentencing.
Source: Amnesty International USA, The Rest of Their Lives: Life Without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States (2005). Data provided from 38 state correctional departments and additional other sources for the states of Alabama and Virginia.