(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except in cases in which the death penalty is imposed, upon a conviction for a most serious offense as defined by this section, a person must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if that person has either:

(1) one or more prior convictions for:

Terms Used In South Carolina Code 17-25-45

  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
  • Nolo contendere: No contest-has the same effect as a plea of guilty, as far as the criminal sentence is concerned, but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose.
  • Plea: In a criminal case, the defendant's statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" in answer to the charges, a declaration made in open court.
  • Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
  • Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.

(a) a most serious offense; or

(b) a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would be classified as a most serious offense under this section; or

(2) two or more prior convictions for:

(a) a serious offense; or

(b) a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would be classified as a serious offense under this section.

(B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except in cases in which the death penalty is imposed, upon a conviction for a serious offense as defined by this section, a person must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if that person has two or more prior convictions for:

(1) a serious offense;

(2) a most serious offense;

(3) a federal or out-of-state offense that would be classified as a serious offense or most serious offense under this section; or

(4) any combination of the offenses listed in items (1), (2), and (3) above.

(C) As used in this section:

(1) "Most serious offense" means:

16-1-40Accessory, for any offense enumerated in this item 16-1-80Attempt, for any offense enumerated in this item 16-3-10Murder 16-3-29Attempted Murder 16-3-50Voluntary manslaughter 16-3-85(A)(1)Homicide by child abuse 16-3-85(A)(2)Aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse 16-3-210Lynching, First degree 16-3-210(B)Assault and battery by mob, First degree 16-3-620Assault and battery with intent to kill 16-3-652Criminal sexual conduct, First degree 16-3-653Criminal sexual conduct, Second degree 16-3-655Criminal sexual conduct with minors, except where evidence presented at the criminal proceeding and the court, after the conviction, makes a specific finding on the record that the conviction obtained for this offense resulted from consensual sexual conduct where the victim was younger than the actor, as contained in Section 16-3-655(3) 16-3-656Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, First and Second degree 16-3-910Kidnapping 16-3-920Conspiracy to commit kidnapping 16-3-1075Carjacking 16-3-2020Trafficking in persons 16-11-110(A)Arson, First degree 16-11-311Burglary, First degree 16-11-330(A)Armed robbery 16-11-330(B)Attempted armed robbery 16-11-540Damaging or destroying building, vehicle, or other property by means of explosive incendiary, death results 24-13-450Taking of a hostage by an inmate 25-7-30Giving information respecting national or state defense to foreign contacts during war 25-7-40Gathering information for an enemy 43-35-85(F)Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death 55-1-30(3)Unlawful removing or damaging of airport facility or equipment when death results 56-5-1030(B)(3)Interference with traffic-control devices or railroad signs or signals prohibited when death results from violation 58-17-4090Obstruction of railroad, death results.

(2) "Serious offense" means:

(a) any offense which is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment for thirty years or more which is not referenced in subsection (C)(1);

(b) those felonies enumerated as follows:

16-3-220Lynching, Second degree 16-3-210(C)Assault and battery by mob, Second degree 16-3-600(B)Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature 16-3-810Engaging child for sexual performance 16-9-220Acceptance of bribes by officers 16-9-290Accepting bribes for purpose of procuring public office 16-11-110(B)Arson, Second degree 16-11-312(B)Burglary, Second degree 16-11-380(B)Theft of a person using an automated teller machine 16-13-210(1)Embezzlement of public funds 16-13-230(B)(3)Breach of trust with fraudulent intent 16-13-240(1)Obtaining signature or property by false pretenses 16-25-20(B)Domestic violence, First degree 16-25-65Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature 38-55-540(3)Insurance fraud 44-53-370(e)Trafficking in controlled substances 44-53-375(C)Trafficking in ice, crank, or crack cocaine 44-53-445(B)(1)&(2)Distribute, sell, manufacture, or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances within proximity of school 56-5-2945Causing death by operating vehicle while under influence of drugs or alcohol; and

(c) the offenses enumerated below:

16-1-40Accessory before the fact for any of the offenses listed in subitems (a) and (b) 16-1-80Attempt to commit any of the offenses listed in subitems (a) and (b) 43-35-85(E)Abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in great bodily injury.

(3) "Conviction" means any conviction, guilty plea, or plea of nolo contendere.

(D) Except as provided in this subsection or subsection (E), no person sentenced pursuant to this section shall be eligible for early release or discharge in any form, whether by parole, work release, release to ameliorate prison overcrowding, or any other early release program, nor shall they be eligible for earned work credits, education credits, good conduct credits, or any similar program for early release. A person is eligible for work release if the person is sentenced for voluntary manslaughter (Section 16-3-50), kidnapping (Section 16-3-910), carjacking (Section 16-3-1075), burglary in the second degree (Section 16-11-312(B)), armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(A)), or attempted armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(B)), the crime did not involve any criminal sexual conduct or an additional violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60, and the person is within three years of release from imprisonment.

(E) For the purpose of this section only, a person sentenced pursuant to this section may be paroled if:

(1) the Department of Corrections requests the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to consider the person for parole; and

(2) the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services determines that due to the person’s health or age he is no longer a threat to society; and

(a) the person has served at least thirty years of the sentence imposed pursuant to this section and has reached at least sixty-five years of age; or

(b) the person has served at least twenty years of the sentence imposed pursuant to this section and has reached at least seventy years of age; or

(c) the person is afflicted with a terminal illness where life expectancy is one year or less; or

(d) the person can produce evidence comprising the most extraordinary circumstances.

(F) For the purpose of determining a prior or previous conviction under this section and Section 17-25-50, a prior or previous conviction shall mean the defendant has been convicted of a most serious or serious offense, as may be applicable, on a separate occasion, prior to the instant adjudication. There is no requirement that the sentence for the prior or previous conviction must have been served or completed before a sentence of life without parole can be imposed under this section.

(G) The decision to invoke sentencing under this section is in the discretion of the solicitor.

(H) Where the solicitor is required to seek or determines to seek sentencing of a defendant under this section, written notice must be given by the solicitor to the defendant and defendant’s counsel not less than ten days before trial.