One can make a strong argument that the juvenile justice system encompasses more conduct than it did twenty years ago. In my opinion, the horrific schools shootings that this Country has witnessed since Columbine in 1999 has forced our society to take a stronger stand as to juvenile criminal offenses.
South Carolina has what we call "status" offenses where but for the fact that the juvenile is under 18, there would be no crime. The offense of "truancy" is an example of a status offense. Other types of crimes, such as simple assault, can also be levied against children. Juvenile offenses are prosecuted in Family Court.
The juvenile criminal system in this State is similar to the adult system with several notable differences. First, there is no formal "arrest" in juvenile cases. Juveniles are taken into "custody" and can either be released to a guardian or detained until formal conditions of their release can be ordered by a Family Court judge. There is no "bond" in juvenile cases. Conditions on release can be set by the Court, i.e. home detention. Our State also sets mandatory time lines on how long a child can remain in custody before being brought to court.
Also, there are no "convictions" in this State. If a child admits guilt or is tried (no jury) and found guilty, he is "adjudicated delinquent" and many times the child is ordered to undergo an "evaluation" (either local or detained). Following the "adjudication hearing", a "dispositonal hearing" is held to determine the child's sentence.
I represent juveniles charged with crimes in South Carolina. If you have questions regarding these issues or other legal problems, please contact my office for a confidential interview.
Brady Vannoy is an attorney who practices criminal defense law in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.