What are “Violent Crimes” in SC?

What are “violent crimes?”

Punching someone? Robbing someone? Murder? Traffic violations? Property crimes? We may naturally think of “violent crime” as crimes that involve “violence,” and that is okay for everyday conversation. But, in the world of criminal law, “violent crime” has a very specific meaning.

For example, punching someone is probably not a violent crime, unless your punch did some serious damage. And traffic violations might be a violent crime, depending on how serious the offense was…

Statutory Violent Crimes in SC

A “violent crime” in SC is any crime that is listed in SC Code Section 16-1-60. Conversely, a “nonviolent crime” is any crime that is not listed in 16-1-60, regardless of how violent the crime actually was…

Violent crimes include crimes of violence, property crimes, drug crimes, sex crimes, and even some traffic offenses.

“Violent” Violent Crimes

Many of the crimes listed in 16-1-60 include crimes of violence against people – the things we would ordinarily think of as violent crimes. These include:

  • Murder (16-3-10),
  • Attempted murder (16-3-29),
  • Assault and battery by mob, first degree, resulting in death (16-3-210(B)),
  • Assault and battery with intent to kill (repealed and replaced by the offense of attempted murder),
  • Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN) (16-3-600(B)),
  • Kidnapping (16-3-910),
  • Trafficking in persons (16-3-930),
  • Voluntary manslaughter (16-3-50),
  • Armed robbery (16-11-330(A)),
  • Attempted armed robbery (16-11-330(B)),
  • Homicide by child abuse (16-3-85(A)(1)),
  • Aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse (16-3-85(A)(2)),
  • Inflicting great bodily injury upon a child (16-3-95(A)),
  • Allowing great bodily injury to be inflicted upon a child (16-3-95(B)),
  • Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature (16-25-65),
  • Domestic violence in the first degree (Section 16-25-20(B)),
  • Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death (43-35-85(F)),
  • Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in great bodily injury (43-35-85(E)), and
  • Taking of a hostage by an inmate (24-13-450).

What’s not included?

Many offenses that are, without a doubt, violent are not included. For example, all but the most serious domestic violence and assault and battery charges are not considered violent crimes under SC law.

Property Crimes and Destruction of Public Property

Many property crimes are also listed as violent crimes under SC law, although the list includes only the most serious offenses that could (or do) result in someone’s death. These include:

  • Burglary in the first degree (16-11-311),
  • Burglary in the second degree (16-11-312(B)),
  • Detonating a destructive device upon the capitol grounds resulting in death with malice (10-11-325(B)(1)),
  • Detonating a destructive device resulting in death with malice (16-23-720(A)(1)),
  • Detonating a destructive device resulting in death without malice (16-23-720(A)(2)),
  • Damaging an airport facility or removing equipment resulting in death (55-1-30(3)),
  • Interference with traffic-control devices, railroad signs or signals resulting in death (56-5-1030(B)(3)),
  • Putting destructive or injurious materials on a highway resulting in death (57-7-20(D)), and
  • Obstruction of a railroad resulting in death (58-17-4090).

Drug Crimes

Are drug crimes violent crimes?

Can a “victimless crime” also be a “violent crime?” The most serious drug offenses are considered violent crimes, as are the most serious DUI-related offenses, including:

  • Drug trafficking as defined in Section 44-53-370(E) (includes marijuana, powder cocaine, heroin, ecstasy),
  • Trafficking cocaine base as defined in Section 44-53-375(C),
  • Manufacturing or trafficking methamphetamine as defined in Section 44-53-375,
  • Boating under the influence resulting in death (50-21-113(A)(2)), and
  • Felony driving under the influence or felony driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration resulting in death (56-5-2945(A)(2)).

Sex Crimes

Many sex crimes are also considered violent crimes in SC, whether or not they involved the actual use of force. These include:

  • Criminal sexual conduct in the first and second degree (16-3-652 and 16-3-653),
  • Criminal sexual conduct with minors, first, second, and third degrees (16-3-655),
  • Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, first and second degree (16-3-656),
  • Engaging a child for a sexual performance (16-3-810),
  • Spousal sexual battery (16-3-615),
  • Producing, directing or promoting sexual performance by a child (16-3-820),
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor first degree (16-15-395),
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor second degree (16-15-405),
  • Promoting prostitution of a minor (16-15-415),
  • Participating in prostitution of a minor (16-15-425), and
  • Aggravated voyeurism (16-17-470(C)).

Traffic and Boating Offenses

Although you wouldn’t ordinarily think of traffic offenses as “violent crime,” there are five SC traffic or boating crimes that are specifically included in the list of violent crimes:

  • Vessel operator’s failure to render assistance resulting in death (50-21-130(A)(3)),
  • Failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle resulting in death (56-5-750(C)(2)),
  • Hit and run resulting in death (56-5-1210(A)(3)),
  • Boating under the influence resulting in death (50-21-113(A)(2)), and
  • Felony driving under the influence or felony driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration resulting in death (56-5-2945(A)(2)).

Accessory and Attempt

Code Section 16-1-60 also says that 1) accessory before the fact to commit any of the listed offenses or 2) attempt to commit any of the listed offenses is also considered a violent crime.

Accessory after the fact to commit one of the listed offenses is not considered a violent crime.

Why Does it Matter if Convictions are Classified as Violent Crimes in SC?

So, what’s the point? Why does it matter if a crime is violent or nonviolent? It matters for parole eligibility, and it might determine what facility you are placed in if you are serving time at the department of corrections.

It does not affect whether your offense is considered “no-parole” or whether your offense is an “85% crime,” however.

Parole Eligibility

SC Code Section 24-21-610 says that, in most cases, inmates are eligible for parole after one-fourth of their sentence is completed unless their offense was a violent crime, in which case they are eligible for parole after one-third of their sentence is completed:

…the Board may… parole a prisoner who if sentenced for a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60, has served at least one-third of the term or the mandatory minimum portion of sentence, whichever is longer. For any other crime the prisoner shall have served at least one-fourth of the term of a sentence or if sentenced to life imprisonment or imprisonment for any period in excess of forty years, has served at least ten years.

According to Section 24-21-640, inmates who are serving sentences “for a second or subsequent conviction, following a separate sentencing for a prior conviction, for violent crimes as defined in Section 16-1-60,” are not eligible for parole at all.

Section 24-21-645 and 24-21-650 say that parole is granted if a majority of the parole board (more than one-half) agrees, but, if the inmate is convicted of a violent crime, it requires a two-thirds vote to parole them.

Placement in SCDOC

A conviction for a violent crime can also affect the inmate’s placement at the Department of Corrections. For example, SC Code Section 24-21-1300 provides for the placement of some inmates at “day reporting centers,” but excludes any inmate convicted of a violent crime as defined in 16-1-60.

A conviction for a violent crime can affect the “level” of the facility where the inmate is placed, and it can prevent them from participating in work release programs.

No-Parole and 85% Crimes

Whether a crime is violent does not affect whether the crime is considered no-parole or an “85% crime,” however.

A no-parole offense is defined by SC Code Section 24-13-100 as “a class A, B, or C felony or an offense exempt from classification as enumerated in Section 16-1-10(d), which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment for twenty years or more.”

SC Code Section 24-13-150 defines an “85% crime” as a no-parole offense:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except in a case in which the death penalty or a term of life imprisonment is imposed, an inmate convicted of a “no parole offense” as defined in Section 24-13-100 and sentenced to the custody of the Department of Corrections, including an inmate serving time in a local facility pursuant to a designated facility agreement authorized by Section 24-3-20 or Section 24-3-30, is not eligible for early release, discharge, or community supervision as provided in Section 24-21-560, until the inmate has served at least eighty-five percent of the actual term of imprisonment imposed.

Although there is certainly overlap between no-parole and violent crimes, violent crimes are not automatically no-parole, 85% crimes.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC violent crimes defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone represents clients who have been charged with crimes in SC state and federal courts.

Call now at (843) 808-2100 or send an email to talk to a Charleston defense lawyer today.