We have been contacted by a number of citizens asking for clarification of the issues with the new bond law. Fortunately, we have also been contacted by some folks who were able to give us a better understanding of that law. We admit to having misunderstood the changes.
As usual, your police administrators, solicitors and politicians used press conferences and sound bites to fool you into thinking they were doing something worthwhile to deal with our crime problem.
Now signed into law, but formerly referred to as S 19, the law was gutted prior to being signed by the governor. The initial bill included an additional five year sentence for a thug who committed a violent crime while out on bond for a violent crime. Unfortunately, your legislators emasculated the law by removing that provision and then restricted the effect of the law solely to violent crimes as defined by Section 16-1-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. That section defines “violent crimes” as:
murder (Section 16-3-10); attempted murder (Section 16-3-29); assault and battery by mob, first degree, resulting in death (Section 16-3-210(B)), criminal sexual conduct in the first and second degree (Sections 16-3-652 and 16-3-653); criminal sexual conduct with minors, first, second, and third degree (Section 16-3-655); assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, first and second degree (Section 16-3-656); assault and battery with intent to kill (Section 16-3-620); assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (Section 16-3-600(B)); kidnapping (Section 16-3-910); trafficking in persons (Section 16-3-930); voluntary manslaughter (Section 16-3-50); armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(A)); attempted armed robbery (Section 16-11-330(B)); carjacking (Section 16-3-1075); drug trafficking as defined in Section 44-53-370(e) or trafficking cocaine base as defined in Section 44-53-375(C); manufacturing or trafficking methamphetamine as defined in Section 44-53-375; arson in the first degree (Section 16-11-110(A)); arson in the second degree (Section 16-11-110(B)); burglary in the first degree (Section 16-11-311); burglary in the second degree (Section 16-11-312(B)); engaging a child for a sexual performance (Section 16-3-810); homicide by child abuse (Section 16-3-85(A)(1)); aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse (Section 16-3-85(A)(2)); inflicting great bodily injury upon a child (Section 16-3-95(A)); allowing great bodily injury to be inflicted upon a child (Section 16-3-95(B)); criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature (Section 16-25-65); abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in death (Section 43-35-85(F)); abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult resulting in great bodily injury (Section 43-35-85(E)); taking of a hostage by an inmate (Section 24-13-450); detonating a destructive device upon the capitol grounds resulting in death with malice (Section 10-11-325(B)(1)); spousal sexual battery (Section 16-3-615); producing, directing, or promoting sexual performance by a child (Section 16-3-820); sexual exploitation of a minor first degree (Section 16-15-395); sexual exploitation of a minor second degree (Section 16-15-405); promoting prostitution of a minor (Section 16-15-415); participating in prostitution of a minor (Section 16-15-425); aggravated voyeurism (Section 16-17-470(C)); detonating a destructive device resulting in death with malice (Section 16-23-720(A)(1)); detonating a destructive device resulting in death without malice (Section 16-23-720(A)(2)); boating under the influence resulting in death (Section 50-21-113(A)(2)); vessel operator’s failure to render assistance resulting in death (Section 50-21-130(A)(3)); damaging an airport facility or removing equipment resulting in death (Section 55-1-30(3)); failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle resulting in death (Section 56-5-750(C)(2)); interference with traffic-control devices, railroad signs, or signals resulting in death (Section 56-5-1030(B)(3)); hit and run resulting in death (Section 56-5-1210(A)(3)); felony driving under the influence or felony driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration resulting in death (Section 56-5-2945(A)(2)); putting destructive or injurious materials on a highway resulting in death (Section 57-7-20(D)); obstruction of a railroad resulting in death (Section 58-17-4090); accessory before the fact to commit any of the above offenses (Section 16-1-40); and attempt to commit any of the above offenses (Section 16-1-80). Only those offenses specifically enumerated in this section are considered violent offenses.
Isn’t that great? So, the provisions of the new bond law, allegedly passed to deal with folks who commit a crime and get out on bond, then commit a crime and get out on bond, then commit a crime and get out bond, etc. etc. etc. only applies to crimes classified as “violent” by the state legislature, some of which no one in South Carolina has ever actually been charged with. Not a single weapons offense was included in that law. Apparently, as we have seen in these pages, getting arrested for multiple counts of PWID and firearm possession do not matter. Heck, even prior arrests for Trafficking and subsequent arrests for PWID or firearms charges don’t matter. So the legal process is like the instructions on a shampoo bottle - commit, arrest, bond out, repeat.
Not that it would have mattered much. You see, even if someone out on bond for a “violent” offense is arrested again for a “violent” offense, the new law simply leaves it up to the bond judge to consider a variety of factors when deciding whether or not to set bond. Strangely enough, they had that same power and responsibility before the new law was passed. Judges are told to consider a person’s criminal record, any pending charges, all incident reports, whether a person is lawfully in the U.S., and if the person is listed in the SLED gang database (Section 17-15-30(B)). After reading that, one would assume judges never considered those factors in the past. Not true. Bond judges have always been provided that information. Some simply choose to ignore it.
In the case of the 9th Circuit Solicitor she puts the onus on the arresting officer to notify her when someone is arrested for a violent crime who is out on bond for another violent crime. Scarlett Wilson requires the arresting officer or agency to send emails to three (3) different assistant solicitors in an effort to get them to take notice. That would make sense, since assistant solicitors tend to go on vacation or get tied up in court once in a while. By sending an email to three of them, one would hope the information wouldn’t fall between the cracks.
Unfortunately, if an officer misreads a criminal history and misses a previous arrest, nothing is ever followed up on. Bond judges, who should be in a position to notice an oversight if they are actually reading those criminal histories as required by Section 17-15-30, just ignore the inconvenient pending charge and conduct the bond hearing anyway. If a prosecutor notices the discrepancy when they get the case file they don’t bother to follow up on it. As you can see, the solicitor and bond judges don’t really seem to give a damn and have set up the system so they can blame the police when something goes wrong.
All of those talking heads also told you the new law would make it easier for solicitors to request (and get) bond revocations for repeat offenders. Unfortunately, all that section of the law did is re-state what circuit judges must consider when hearing a revocation motion. As it turns out, those factors are the same ones they considered (and ignored) in the past. In effect, nothing was changed by this law.
Police administrator: “Hey, these citizens are on my ass about all these repeat offenders getting out on bond after bond and still committing more crimes!”
Scarlett Wilson: “Yeah, those miserable pricks at Charleston Thug Life keep pointing out I am not very successful or even consistent in requesting bond revocations for those turds!”
Politicians: “No sweat! We will bang out this bill that includes a five year sentence for those “clients” who bond out and continue to commit crimes and have our cronies in the press trumpet it out. Then we will quietly remove the teeth from the bill and send it to the Governor to sign before those idiot voters realize what is happening. Those rubes don’t bother to keep track of legislation anyway. They will believe whatever we instruct the press to tell them. You two go out and hold some joint press conferences and tell everyone what a great idea we had and how much you support it. That should take the heat off for a while. Once we get this bullshit signed we can all say, “Hey, we did something,” and the morons will vote for us again. Hahahahahaha!”
Note: Not word for word, but we imagine it went down pretty close to that.