What Is a Class D Felony in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, felony crimes are divided into six, separate classes. Class A felonies are the most serious while Class F crimes are the least serious. Class D felonies include:
- Arson – third degree
- Burglary – second degree
- Manufacturing or distributing methamphetamine or cocaine – first degree
- Resisting arrest with a deadly weapon
- Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult
Maximum and Minimum Sentences
The presumptive sentencing guidelines for Class D felonies in South Carolina call for a maximum sentence of no more than 15 years in prison. Fines can also be handed out, though they are not mandatory, and are at the discretion of the judge. There is no specific range of fines associated with each felony classification. South Carolina statutes also spell out a variety of circumstances in which enhanced sentencing is possible for Class D felonies, as well as all other felonies. Class D felonies will be punished by a prison term about 78 percent of the time, according to the state’s sentencing guidelines. A departure from the guidelines is possible if the circumstances indicate the defendant has provided “substantial assistance” to authorities. Home confinement and community sentencing choices are among the options.
The starting point for felony sentences in South Carolina is the presumptive sentencing guideline for every felony class, or every specific felony, if it is listed separately under South Carolina law. Other factors, such as the severity of the crime, any prior criminal record and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances are all assigned points. Judges total up the points for a crime and look up the sentencing range on a scorecard. Aggravating circumstances include the cruelty of a particular offense, any bodily harm caused and the infliction of emotional or mental stress. Mitigating factors include the fact that the offender played a fairly minor or passive role in the crime and the victim was the aggressor.
Loss of Rights and Benefits
As soon as you are convicted you will lose the following rights in North Carolina:
- Hold state office
- Own or possess a firearm
- Qualify for a student loan, receive other government benefits
- Hold some occupations that require state or federal licenses
Felons in South Carolina automatically have their right to vote restored when they complete their sentence, including any parole or probation obligations. The right to hold public office also is restored when the sentence is completed. However, other civil rights lost as the result of a felony conviction in South Carolina are not automatically restored.
Employment and Housing with a Felony Record
Employers and landlords in South Carolina have the right to examine the criminal records of all applicants and to consider that record when deciding whether to accept a job prospect or new tenant. Anyone with a Class D felony conviction, particularly one that involves a crime of violence, will find it very difficult to locate housing or find employment in the state. State officials can make the process a little easier by identifying programs that encourage employers and landlords to select felons, often for a tax credit.
Clearing Your Record
Expungement is available for only a small number of felonies in South Carolina, so check with an experienced criminal attorney to determine your options. No crimes of violence can be expunged in the state. However, anyone with a felony on their criminal record can request a pardon. While pardons do not erase criminal convictions, they do restore all civil rights lost as a result of the conviction. There is no designated waiting period for an initial application for a pardon other than the full completion of the criminal sentence, including any probation or parole. If the pardon is not awarded, the waiting period is 1 year for a non-violent offender and 2 years for a violent offender. The time from pardon application to receipt of a decision from the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole averages about 9 months.
For more details on all crimes in the state, as well as sentencing information, go to Chapter 16, South Carolina Code of Laws.
The information contained above is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you should visit an attorney.