The Juvenile Court of the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office serves citizens of Horry and Georgetown counties by handling the prosecution of crimes committed by juveniles under the age of 17. For certain serious crimes, 16-year-olds will be considered adults, and a judge may waive up 14- or 15-year olds as adults after a hearing. Typically, minors under 12 are not considered competent for court.
When a juvenile is charged with a crime, truancy or a status offense, he or she is not arrested but is given a ticket for an Initial Appearance, at which point, he or she is either released with a warning, sent to a diversion program or given a court date. In certain cases, the police may determine that the juvenile should be taken into detention until court, which must occur within 24 to 48 hours, excluding weekends.
If the juvenile’s parents do not qualify for a Public Defender for representation, they must hire an attorney to represent the juvenile.
In court, a juvenile can plead delinquent (guilty), or have a trial before a judge (not a jury). Sentences can range from probation (up to the 18th birthday) to alternative placement (typically a group home facility) to jail time (which could be up to the 21st birthday, depending on parole guidelines).
In some cases, a psychological evaluation may be necessary before sentencing, which can take place while the juvenile stays home, or is placed in a foster home or at a DJJ facility. The evaluation can take up to sixty (60) days.
If a juvenile is eligible for a diversion program, his charges can be dismissed upon completion, which could take up to nine (9) months. There are several diversion programs, which address issues such as drug use, truancy, and parent-child problems. If a juvenile fails to complete the diversion program, he must come to court to resolve his case.
At the age of 17, a juvenile is eligible to have certain charges expunged from his record if he has completed all requirements and has not committed another criminal offense. An expungement screening application is available in our FORMS section of the website.
A juvenile’s parents also can be brought to court for violation of Attendance Orders, or for failing to comply with the terms of a Court Order in a criminal case. For each offense, a parent can face up to 30 days and/or a $150 fine.
Parents who are having problems with their children are encouraged to seek services offered by the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice. A brochure of services available from different agencies is available by clicking the BROCHURE link on this page. Go to the Find Help button on this page and find links to DJJ and other agencies.