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Columbia SC Homicide Defense Attorneys

Columbia Homicide Defense Lawyers

Defending Columbia, South Carolina clients against murder and manslaughter charges

Generally speaking, homicide is any criminal action that results in the death of an individual. Most states, including South Carolina, differentiate between an involuntary and a voluntary killing. The term “homicide” encompasses murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

With any homicide charge, the stakes are extremely high. A murder conviction could put you behind bars for decades. Even a conviction of lesser charges could result in a loss of constitutional rights, including the right to own a firearm or access to many federal programs. If you’re facing homicide charges – or believe you’re under investigation – it’s crucial you have strong and experienced criminal defense on your side.

At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we dedicate ourselves to our Columbia and Charleston clients, protecting their rights and ensuring they’re treated fairly by local authorities and prosecutors. We believe that serious charges require serious representation, and Attorney Hough’s decades of experience within the system provides his clients the unique defense strategy they need. Contact us today for knowledgeable guidance.

“Remember, an arrest is not a conviction.”    -    Attorney Hough

What’s the difference between murder and manslaughter?

We understand that many violent crimes happen due to unfavorable and difficult circumstances, and not intentional acts of brutality. Under S.C. Code § 16-3-5, murder and manslaughter are defined as follows.


Although some states differentiate between degrees of murder, South Carolina does not. Instead, murder is simply defined as the killing of any person with malice aforethought, either express or implied. Generally, murder charges mean the prosecution believes the accused had the specific or general intent to commit murder.

In some cases, your murder defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a murder charge down to a manslaughter charge depending on the specifics of your situation. As we’ll discuss later, penalties between murder and manslaughter vary significantly.


A manslaughter conviction carries lesser penalties than murder, but is still a very serious criminal offense. In fact, voluntary manslaughter carries up to thirty years in prison. Homicide law holds manslaughter as the killing of another person, but without the malice that would make the crime a murder. There are two types of manslaughter in South Carolina – voluntary and involuntary.

  • Voluntary manslaughter. The main difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is that manslaughter typically results from a loss of emotional control. You may hear this described as a “crime of passion” – meaning that voluntary manslaughter often results from the accused being provoked or psychologically pushed. The legal term for this is “sufficient provocation.”
  • Involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs more from criminal recklessness or negligence, rather than intention or malice. Criminal negligence is a reckless disregard for the safety of others. If the accused person placed others in an unlawful and dangerous situation that had the potential to cause death or serious harm, he or she can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Authorities investigate and prosecute homicide crimes to the utmost of their ability. We work for the best possible outcome for your case – minimizing charges and penalties as well as protecting your rights and your future. We also provide aggressive defense in homicide by child abuse cases.

The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. also aggressively defends clients against other criminal charges, including assault, arson, kidnapping, and charges against college students. We also handle drunk driving defense.

What are the penalties for murder and manslaughter convictions in SC?

It’s important to understand the consequences for a murder or manslaughter conviction. Many of the penalties for these criminal offenses have mandatory minimum prison sentences, so the assistance of an experienced defense attorney is crucial.

  • Murder. The penalties for a murder conviction can include 30 years to life in prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. The judge also has the discretion to consider aggravating factors when determining a sentence in most cases.
  • Voluntary manslaughter. If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, an individual must serve a minimum of two years in prison, with sentences of up to 30 years without parole.
  • Involuntary manslaughter. Penalties for involuntary manslaughter are still serious, with sentences of up to five years in prison.

As you can see, the stakes are high. But at The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we can help.

What is the Protection of Persons and Property Act?

Also called the “Castle Doctrine,” the Protection of Persons and Property Act is South Carolina’s version of the common “stand your ground” law. The Castle Doctrine is often a legitimate defense for murder and manslaughter charges in many situations both at home and in your personal vehicle. This legislation can also make you immune from prosecution.

This legislation recognizes that a person’s home is his/her “castle,” and extends that right to his/her vehicle as well as his/her place of business. It means that all of us have the constitutional right to expect to remain safe within our residences, vehicles, and businesses and should never have to surrender that safety or be forced to retreat in the face of an attacker or intruder.

It’s important to remember, if you’ve been accused of homicide, the Castle Doctrine defense is not available to individuals who’ve used deadly force against members of law enforcement who have identified themselves as such and/or are acting within the scope of their authorized duties.

If you believe that the Castle Doctrine applies to you, consult with Attorney Hough as soon as possible to go over the details of your case.

When your very freedom is on the line, you must obtain legal guidance before you speak to anyone – including the police and other authorities. We can ensure you don’t accidentally incriminate yourself or rule out any possible defenses for your case.

You have a right to defend yourself against any criminal accusations, and Attorney Hough strives to provide the best possible defense on your behalf. We prepare every single case for trial and make sure that the prosecution knows we’re ready. Our main goal is to have your charges dropped or have you acquitted completely. We put our decades of experience to work to safeguard your future.

Remember – an arrest is not a conviction.

Experienced homicide defense attorney protecting your rights

If you’re facing murder or manslaughter charges, you need serious and focused criminal defense. At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we understand what’s at stake and we’re prepared to take aggressive steps to protect your constitutional rights. We investigate your case thoroughly and work for reduction, dismissal, or acquittal. Our legal team stands by your side until the very end of your case. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Columbia or Charleston, please call 803-771-4119 or fill out our contact form.