If you are under age 25 and charged with a crime—even a serious one—South Carolina law may give you the chance to clean up your big mistake and eventually get it off your record. It’s called the Youthful Offender Act. At Holland & Usry, we consider it an option for folks who commit crimes too serious to qualify for pre-trial intervention or a conditional discharge.

Of course, there are tradeoffs, and we look at the risks and benefits elsewhere on this website. But first, we will see who qualifies for a Youthful Offender Act (YOA) sentence.

Who Qualifies for a Youthful Offender Act Sentence?

Even if you are convicted at trial, you can still get a YOA sentence. A YOA sentence does not require an agreement by the state. The following rules determine if people qualify:

  • Age requirement. A YOA sentence may be an option for juveniles whose cases are moved up from Family Court to General Sessions, and anyone at least age 17 but less than 25 at the time of conviction.
  • Qualifying offenses. The offense must be non-violent under South Carolina law and either a misdemeanor or felony carrying a maximum of 15 years.

There are a few exceptions to these general guidelines:

  • Burglary in the second degree requires a minimum three-year prison sentence, and the maximum age is 21.
  • Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the third degree requires consensual conduct while you are age 18 or less, with a person at least 14 years old.

Get the Law on Your Side

If you or a loved one may be eligible for a Youthful Offender Act sentence, don’t stand alone. The truth is, you’re too young to face the state and all its power on your own. And you may not be guilty. Plus, you could have other, better options than a YOA even if convicted.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can develop your defenses, and explain the best possible options for you if you have to plead guilty or get convicted. Together you develop a battle plan to win your acquittal or fight for the least punishing outcome for you.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, or Cherokee County or nearby, it won’t cost you a thing to begin finding out your possible defenses and options. When we help younger folks, we work to prevent you having a record by trying to win…and if we can’t, we work to keep you out of prison and give you the best chance possible to get the charge off your public record. If you’re wondering how this could happen in your case, call us  toll-free at 888.230.1841.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.