Lynching in South Carolina

Lynching Defined

When you hear the word “lynching” you might think of a racially motivated killing. You might also think a lynching is a hanging. But South Carolina defines lynching as an act of violence inflicted by a mob that results in the death of the victim (which is first degree) or physical injury to the victim (which is second degree). (See S.C. Code § § 16-3-210 and 16-3-220). Therefore, a racist motive is not required of a lynching but a mob killing is. A mob consists of at least two people who without color or authority of the law have a premeditated intent of committing an act of violence on the person of another. The act of violence committed by the mob does not have to be a hanging to constitute a lynching.

Burden of Proof for Lynching

In order to convict, the prosecution must show a common intent by the mob to do violence to the person of another and that they mutually assisted one another in carrying out the plan. In order to show a common intent the prosecution must show premeditation, which requires a willful deliberation and planning or conscious consideration preceding a particular act. In other words, the prosecution must show the mob formed a plan prior to the attack.

Penalties for Lynching

  • South Carolina law provides that all persons present as members of a mob when an act of violence is committed have aided and abetted the crime and are guilty as principals.
  • First degree lynching carries a prison sentence of five to forty years.
  • Second degree lynching carries a prison sentence of up to twenty years.
  • A defendant convicted of an offense carrying a penalty of at least twenty years is not eligible for parole.
  • A defendant who is convicted of first degree lynching and sentenced to a prison term and who has a prior conviction for a statutorily designated most serious offense or two prior convictions for a serious offense can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
  • A defendant who is convicted of second degree lynching who has two or more prior convictions for a statutorily defined serious offense or most serious offense can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole as well.

Lynching is a serious felony and a conviction could result in the death penalty or life imprisonment. For a case analysis, call Daniel Selwa today at 843-492-5449. The law offices of Daniel Selwa are located at 516 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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