Murder vs. Voluntary Manslaughter vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
A murder conviction carries a minimum of 30 years in prison, a life sentence, or even the death penalty in certain cases. Under the law, murder is the killing of another person will malice aforethought. Malice can either be expressed or implied and essentially refers to the intent to kill, which can arise very quickly under the law. Malice can mean the actual intent to kill, or the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. Malice can also be proven by a show reckless indifference to the value of human life or the intent to commit a felony.
On the other hand, manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice, either express or implied. If the right facts are presented at trial, a jury could find a person guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of the original murder charge.
Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person in sudden heat of passion upon sufficient legal provocation. For a jury to consider this charge, both heat of passion and sufficient legal provocation must be present at the time of killing. Provocation means some act of the victim (for example an unprovoked attack).
Voluntary manslaughter in South Carolina carries a minimum penalty of two years and a maximum penalty of thirty years in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another without malice but while engaged in an unlawful activity not naturally tending to cause death or great bodily harm. It can also be defined as the unintentional killing of another without malice while engaged in lawful activity with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Under either definition, proof beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal negligence (reckless disregard for the safety of others) must be shown.
Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of five years. in prison.
Felony DUI with Death & Felony DUI with Great Bodily Injury
Felony DUI with Death is a very serious charge in South Carolina. The penalty for a felony DUI conviction varies greatly across the nation. In Maryland and Delaware, the maximum penalty for causing a death while under the influence is 5 years. By contrast, Tennessee has a mandatory minimum of eight years and a statutory maximum of sixty years. The penalty for Felony DUI with Death in South Carolina is between a one year mandatory minimum sentence and not more than a twenty-five year maximum sentence.
To get a conviction for felony DUI, the prosecution must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or both). Second, while driving the person must have committed an act forbidden by law or neglected a duty imposed by law in the driving of the motor vehicle. Third, the act or neglect must have caused great bodily injury or death to any person other than the driver.
Felony DUI with Great Bodily Injury carries between thirty days and fifteen years in prison. Under the law, “great bodily injury” is defined as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Armed Robbery and the Lesser-Included of Strong Armed Robbery
Armed Robbery most commonly understood as the use of a deadly weapon during the course of a robbery. However, pretending to have a deadly weapon also counts as Armed Robbery under the law provided the alleged victim believed the object to be a deadly weapon. Armed robbery carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of up to 30 years in prison. Attempted armed robbery carries up to 20 years in prison.
Strong Armed Robbery is known also as Common Law Robbery. This crime is committed when no deadly weapon was used (or thought to be used) during the robbery. Strong Armed / Common Law Robbery is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and carries no mandatory minimum sentence.
The Most Common and Serious "Add-On" Criminal Charge: Kidnapping.
Under South Carolina law, Kidnapping means the abduction, carrying away, confinement or detention of a human being without any legal justification or cause. Kidnapping carries up to thirty years in prison. Because its definition is so broad and covers such a wide range of conduct, this charge is often incidental to (and charged along with) another crime. To name a few, Kidnapping charges can accompany each and every degree of Domestic Violence, Armed Robbery charges and even assault warrants. Even a very brief detention can meet the legal definition of Kidnapping under South Carolina law.
Kidnapping charges are commonly brought in addition to the "primary" charge in order to try and give the prosecutor an advantage when the case goes to Court. This strategy deserves to be called out.
Sometimes Not So Serious Facts Lead to a Serious Burglary in the First Degree Charge.
The crime of burglary is classified as first, second, or third degree in South Carolina. First Degree Burglary is by far the most serious and is punishable by up to life in prison. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years and is among the most serious crimes in the state, second only to those that involves the loss of human life.
First Degree Burglary requires the government to prove that a person entered a dwelling without consent from the owner and with the intent to commit a crime inside the dwelling.In addition, one or more aggravating factor must also present: the person is armed with a weapon, took a weapon from inside the dwelling, entered the dwelling at nighttime, has two or more prior convictions for burglary or housebreaking.
The problem with the serious penalty for First Degree Burglary is that often times the person charged with the crime knows for sure that the owner of the dwelling is not home. A person who sneaks into his or her uncle's house through an open rear window in broad daylight and takes an antique gun with the intent of pawning it for rent money committed a crime that carries fifteen to life and will be charged with First Degree Burglary.
What Exactly is a "Violent Crime" Under South Carolina Law?
"Violent crime” has two different meanings in South Carolina. The first is the common sense understanding of a crime involving violence. Crimes like murder, armed robbery and kidnapping are violent in nature.
But a crime does not necessarily have to involve a violent act in order to be classified as a "violent crime." Two examples of crimes legislatively classified as violent are: Trafficking Over 400 Grams of Cocaine and Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor. These are knows as "statutorily violent" crimes. These crimes and other are violent because the legislature classified them that way.
The two main consequences of a conviction for a violent crime have to do with classification in the South Carolina Department of Corrections and South Carolina's "Two Strike" and "Three Strike" laws.
Classification. The South Carolina Department of Corrections will house a person convicted of a violent crime in a more secure facility with other people who have been convicted of violent offenses.
Further, a crime classified as violent often requires a longer incarceration period. Violent crimes are often known as 85% charges because a person will not max out a sentence until 85% of it has been served. Violent crimes punishable by 20 years or more are 85% offenses. This is a somewhat over-simplified and it is best to speak with a criminal defense lawyer regarding a specific sentencing question.
Two Strikes and Three Strikes Laws. Many violent crimes are also classified as “serious” or “most serious.” If a person has two convictions for “serious” offenses and is then charged with a third serious offense, the State can serve notice that it intends to have the person sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) if convicted of the third serious offense. This is a three strikes law.
“Most serious” offenses are treated even more severely. If a person convicted of one “most serious” offense is charged with another, then the State can seek a LWOP sentence for a second conviction of a “most serious” crime.