Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina


In South Carolina, juvenile crime is a matter of serious concern, with its unique legal implications and societal impact. The approach to juvenile offenses differs significantly from that of adult criminal cases, focusing more on rehabilitation than punishment. At Thompson and Hiller, our extensive experience with juvenile cases has given us deep insights into the complexities of this area of law and how it impacts young lives.

Juvenile Crime vs. Adult Criminal System

The juvenile and adult criminal systems in South Carolina are governed by different principles and procedures. In the juvenile system, the focus is more on rehabilitation and reintegration into society, whereas the adult system emphasizes punishment. Juvenile proceedings are typically more informal and protective, aiming to shield minors from the full brunt of the criminal justice system.

Key differences include:

  • Confidentiality: Juvenile proceedings are usually not public, protecting the privacy of the minors involved.
  • Sentencing and Rehabilitation: Juvenile sentences prioritize rehabilitation and may involve counseling, community service, or placement in a juvenile detention center, contrasting with the often harsher sentences in the adult system.

Common Juvenile Crime Offenses in South Carolina

Juvenile offenses in South Carolina can range from misdemeanors to more serious felonies. Common offenses include:

  • Vandalism and Graffiti: Often seen as acts of rebellion or expression, these can lead to significant legal consequences.
  • Underage Drinking: A prevalent issue, carrying potential penalties and long-term implications.
  • Theft and Shoplifting: These offenses can stem from various factors, including peer pressure or economic issues.

Rehabilitation and Penalties in the Juvenile Crime System

In South Carolina, the juvenile justice system places a strong emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment. This approach reflects the belief that juveniles have a greater capacity for change and reform compared to adults. Rehabilitation methods include:

  • Educational Programs: Focused on addressing behavioral issues and encouraging academic progress.
  • Counseling Services: Aimed at helping juveniles understand and rectify their behaviors. This can include family counseling, substance abuse counseling, and mental health services.
  • Community Service: Often used as a way to instill a sense of responsibility and community involvement in young offenders.

Penalties in the juvenile system differ significantly from those in the adult system. Detention in a juvenile facility is usually seen as a last resort and is used for more serious offenses or repeat offenders. The length of stay is typically shorter than adult sentences and focuses on rehabilitation.

Role of a Defense Attorney in Juvenile Crime Cases

Defense attorneys play a critical role in juvenile cases, which requires a different approach compared to adult criminal defense. Key responsibilities include:

  • Protecting the Minor’s Rights: Ensuring that the juvenile’s legal rights are protected throughout the legal process.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy: Working towards outcomes that favor rehabilitation over punishment. This may involve negotiating with prosecutors and judges to reach an agreement that serves the best interest of the juvenile.
  • Guidance and Support: Providing not just legal representation, but also guidance and support to the family throughout the process.

At Thompson and Hiller, our approach in juvenile cases is characterized by a deep understanding of the unique nature of these cases and a commitment to achieving outcomes that are in the best interest of the young individual’s future.


Navigating juvenile crime in South Carolina requires an understanding of how the law differs for minors. The emphasis is on rehabilitation and providing young offenders a second chance. At Thompson and Hiller, we bring our experience and compassionate approach to every juvenile case, ensuring that the legal system supports the minor’s growth and development rather than hindering it. If your family is facing a juvenile legal issue, know that specialized legal support can make a significant difference in protecting your child’s future. Contact us to learn how we can help guide you through this challenging time with sensitivity and professionalism.