York's Family Court

At the start of Tommy Pope’s first term as Solicitor for the 16th Circuit, he started a juvenile division for his office. What began with one assistant solicitor has grown through the years to include another assistant solicitor, a juvenile victim advocate, a juvenile arbitration coordinator, juvenile drug treatment court coordinator and two secretaries. The Juvenile Division deals with most cases where the criminal offender is under the age of 17. If, however, the juvenile is 16 years of age and is charged with a Class A-D felony, the case will be filed in the court of General Sessions where the juvenile will be treated as an adult.

The main difference between Family Court and General Sessions Court is the maximum penalties for the particular crimes. The maximum sentence for a juvenile in Family Court is an indeterminate sentence not to exceed the juvenile’s 21st birthday. The goal of Family Court is to protect the public while attempting to rehabilitate the juvenile. Most juveniles who are non-violent, non-serious offenders remain in the community. Rehabilitation may be achieved through prevention and intervention programs such as the arbitration program, group homes, or the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Marine Institute. Unfortunately, not all juveniles can be rehabilitated. The Solicitor’s Office will attempt to place these serious, violent, and repeat offenders in long-term incarceration.

The York County Solicitor’s Office Juvenile Division is in Rock Hill at the York County Office Complex on Heckle Boulevard. The location of the Family Court is also in this complex.

Since 1994, the York County Solicitor’s Office has had the Juvenile Arbitration Program which is an alternative program for juvenile offenders. It is coordinated by Anna Melvin and is housed in Rock Hill with the Juvenile Division of the Solicitor’s Office.

Continuing the Solicitor’s Office’s strong commitment to juveniles and crime prevention, Solicitor Brackett began sponsoring an annual calendar contest in 2006. This contest has been very positive and is instrumental in getting a strong anti-drug and anti-violence message to the community and to the youth of the community.

In 2012, Solicitor Brackett agreed to partner with several other agencies in the county to create an after school program for at-risk youth. This program is currently in operation and available to youth in the Rock Hill School District.

Over 700 cases were referred to the Solicitor’s Office for prosecution in Family Court in 2012. In this same year, the Juvenile Arbitration Program received and processed 333 cases.