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What makes a crime a felony?

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in South Carolina, you may wonder why you have been charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor or other charge.

States define what kinds of criminal behavior constitute felonies in their legal codes. The South Carolina Legal Code breaks crimes down into felonies or misdemeanors. Under the legal code, felony and misdemeanor charges carry different types of penalties. Felonies are considered more serious crimes than misdemeanors and, if you are convicted of a felony, you can face greater penalties than you would if convicted of a misdemeanor offense.

The South Carolina code breaks down felonies into six sub-categories called classes. Class A felonies are the most serious. Class A felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and include such crimes as rape, kidnapping, and causing a person's death while committing another crime. Class F felonies, at the other side of the spectrum, are punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Class F felonies include property crimes where damages are between $2,000 and $10,000, as well as fraud, unlawful weapon possession and the evasion of certain legal orders. 

In South Carolina, some very serious crimes, such as premeditated murder, are specifically exempted from the maximum punishment limits defined by law for felonies and misdemeanors. While these crimes are still considered felonies, if you are convicted of one of these crimes, you could face more than thirty years in prison, along with fines.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

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