Know what to do and who to call when your juvenile is charged with a crime. Their future depends on it!

Receiving a call that your child is in police custody because of an alleged juvenile offense is one of the most terrifying calls a parent can receive. Both you and your child may be feeling everything from fear and anger to shame and confusion. The thought of an unpredictable court proceeding and the uncertainty of next steps can make you feel even more uneasy. Most of all, you’re probably wondering what this tragic situation means for your child’s future.

As a defense attorney for juveniles, I am routinely asked questions by concerned parents and relatives. I’ve answered a few about the South Carolina juvenile criminal system below. But you may have other questions that I may be able to answer during a free consultation. Securing a juvenile defense attorney in the Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley County area is your next step. And, I’m here to help.

I handled over 1000 criminal indictments/warrants in General Sessions Court and hundreds of Criminal Domestic Violence cases in the Magistrate and Municipal Courts of Dorchester County. In these courts combined, I have tried over 20 jury trials.

-- Criminal Defense Attorney Susan E. Williams
Common Questions You Might Have About Juvenile Cases
How does juvenile court differ from adult court?

If someone under the age of 16 is charged with a crime in South Carolina, and charged as a juvenile, unlike adults, juveniles are not “arrested,” nor is there a “bond.” Instead, they are taken into “custody“ and, in some cases, released to a parent or guardian. On the other hand, if your child has been detained, he or she will remain at a detention facility until a Family Court judge orders a release.

I have never been through the Court system. What happens next?

First, your child must obtain an attorney. The attorney will walk you through the steps. If your child is not guilty, he or she may consider a trial. Juveniles do not have jury trials; they have bench trials. In a Bench Trial, a Family Court Judge (as opposed to a jury) will hear the case and the burden is on the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the juvenile is guilty.

How long does this process take?

You may be ready to get this taken care of and put it behind you as soon as possible. That is understandable and I hear that often from my clients' parents. The Solicitor (or the prosecutor) is in charge of when the cases are called for Court. Some cases can take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more to be disposed of.

Why have I been served with paperwork to appear in Court?

Parents or guardians of minors may be required to appear in Court for juvenile hearings.  You may be concerned about missing days at work or school.  You may be concerned about getting something in writing to provide to your employer or school.  These are valid concerns to discuss with your lawyer.

Will this charge "follow" my child? Will it affect his ability to go into the military, college, obtain scholarships, obtain jobs?

The answer to this question depends on whether the juvenile is convicted of an offense.  The answer also depends on what the juvenile is convicted of.  Generally, offenses are grouped by statute. 

Can this charge be expunged from my child's criminal record?

There are some factors to consider regarding expungements. For example, the type of offense the juvenile was convicted of, whether the juvenile violated probation after sentencing, and there are other factors. Expungement laws do change; therefore it is important to know the current expungement law.

Who can be present in my child's hearing?

In general, juvenile cases are confidential in nature. Judges, lawyers, members of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Court personnel, and others approved by the Court will be present. The Court rooms are not open to the public during juvenile hearings.

What if the Police searched or questioned my child at their public school without notifying me?

Juveniles may have somewhat less of an expectation of privacy at public schools. The specifics of this should be discussed with a defense attorney.

My juvenile was hanging out with the wrong crowd and got arrested for something he/she didn't do.

If your child has been wrongfully arrested, you need to contact a defense attorney to discuss any possible defenses.

My child has been expelled or suspended as a result of this arrest. What are the alternatives to public school for my child?

A defense attorney can help you explore potential education options such as online schools, home schooling, military schools, and private schools.

What are the factors considered by a judge?

The juvenile's school disciplinary record, school attendance, grades, extracurricular activities, and psychological history are some of the factors that a Family Court Judge would take into consideration. Also, if there is an alleged victim, the Court can hear input on the alleged victim's behalf.

Can my child be tried as an adult?

In some cases, the prosecutor can decide to charge the child as an adult. An attorney can discuss your child’s options with you.

Types of juvenile cases I've handled:
  • Carrying a weapon on School Grounds
  • Possession of Marijuana
  • Truancy
  • Runaway
  • Assault and Battery (fighting at school, fighting with a family member, etc)
  • Malicious Injury to Personal Property
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct With a Minor
  • Possession of a controlled Substance
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol
  • Weapons charges
  • Drug charges
  • Arbitration
  • Burglary
  • Assault and Battery
  • Possession of a Stolen Pistol
  • Grand Larceny
  • Sex offenses
  • Probation violation hearings

Juveniles charged with crimes in the Family Court have a unique set of needs. They require the skill of a juvenile defense attorney in the Charleston, SC area who is both compassionate and experienced. You need an attorney who will act quickly to gather the facts and to advocate for your child. Please don’t delay. Contact me today for a free consultation.

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Client Testimonials

The Rules of Professional Conduct require disclosure that this is a “Testimonial” about the attorney. Please be aware that any result achieved on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

“Very Outstanding”

Ms. Williams worked hard on our case and took an interest with getting the best results. She kept us informed on the progress and we were rewarded by her efforts with a satisfactory result.

- Mark

“Help when you need.”

Susan Williams can be counted on to help you when you need it the most. The justice system can be very stressful if you are the target of an investigation. Though you may be innocent until proven guilty, the system treats you otherwise.

Susan was very understanding and explained everything and made me feel as if I were her only client. I was always kept informed as my case developed and within a short time she had my case dropped. Without hesitation I would hire Susan again because of Ms. Williams professionalism, perseverance, and analytic skills (she's also tough).

- J.M.

“I Found a Good Attorney”

My daughter and I needed the services of a good attorney. The attorneys I used in the past were okay, but were lacking in a variety of areas which motivated me to look elsewhere. I called Susan Williams and she responded immediately. She listened to the issues that I brought to her and put together a case to help my daughter's struggle for justice. She kept me informed of each step and explained the process as the case evolved. The case was unusual and complicated; however, Susan Williams continued to fight for a cause, not for a check. Her persistence paid off and she won my daughter's case. I recommend her legal services to anyone and everyone who may need a good attorney.

- Mark
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