CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Prosecutors with the 15th Judicial Circuit are working to make sure the most violent criminals in Horry and Georgetown Counties get locked up for as long as possible.
The solicitor’s office appointed two prosecutors to go after what they consider the Grand Strand’s worst criminals in federal court. Those prosecutors are working in the federal court system to keep convicted violent offenders out of your community.
Drug trafficking, armed bank robbery, felon in possession of a firearm – according to 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, the suspects who face these types of charges could have received light prison sentences in state court.
“State law is really tough on drugs, where our state law is not good is guns,” explains Richardson. “The use of a gun may be five years. The feds are really big on gun charges.”
Two prosecutors from Richardson’s office were deputized as special U.S. attorneys last year. They prosecute suspects whom Richardson calls the “worst of the worst” in federal court, so they can get longer sentences.
These suspects are charged with violent, drug-related, or weapons-related crimes and have lengthy criminal histories.
“Those people are handpicked. We take those we know it would be extremely difficult to prosecute in state court,” says Richardson.
Richardson says suspects who face charges for violent crimes – like gun violations or trafficking narcotics – may get up to a 20-year sentence in a state court, but in federal court, that same conviction could earn a life time in prison.
“We take advantage of certain federal laws, certain federal guidelines. People will continue to see massive amounts of time for these real bad players,” promises Richardson.
Richardson says another big advantage of using the federal court system is that most suspects are not granted bond, and he says that has a noticeable impact on crime.
“A lot of these guys who sit there without bond, you see certain communities where these guys roam the roads, not only are those communities safe, but there’s no shootings. It stops. It’s just like cutting off a water faucet,” describes Richardson.
Richardson says his office is also working with federal law enforcement, including the FBI and DEA so they can arrest these criminals and their cases start off in the federal system and don’t later have to be adopted.