The duties and responsibilities of the Attorney General are described by common law, the state Constitution, and state statutes.
The Office is an ancient one, dating back to 1698.
The Attorney General is South Carolina’s Chief Criminal Prosecutor, Chief Legal Officer and Securities Commissioner.
The South Carolina Constitution defines the Attorney General’s role as “chief prosecuting officer of the State with authority to supervise the prosecution of all criminal cases in courts of record.”
In 1929, a state court broadened that role: “As the chief law officer of the State [the Attorney General] may, in the absence of some express legislative restriction to the contrary, exercise all such power and authority as public interests may, from time to time, require, and may institute, conduct and maintain all such suits and proceedings as he deems necessary for the enforcement of the laws of the State, the preservation of order, and the protection of public rights.”
As Chief Criminal Prosecutor, the Attorney General:
(1) Represents the State of South Carolina in prosecuting criminal cases and holds supervisory authority over the prosecution of any and all criminal cases in the State of South Carolina;
(2) Oversees the activities of the State Grand Jury including the prosecution of multi-jurisdictional drug offenders, obscenity, public corruption, election fraud, computer crime violations, terrorism, and securities fraud;
(3) Trains and supervises pro-bono domestic violence prosecutors in summary and municipal court and through a federal grant, prosecutes in State courts defendants accused of criminal domestic violence;
(4) Represents the State in all death penalty appeals in both state and federal courts;
(5) Prosecutes cases of Internet crimes against children, including those involving sexual exploitation;
(6) Investigates and prosecutes cases of Medicaid fraud, patient abuse, and provider fraud;
(7) Represents the State in civil confinement trials of alleged sexually violent predators under South Carolina’s Sexually Violent Predators statute;
(8) Prosecutes all cases of insurance fraud;
(9) Prosecutes violations of State’s tax laws;
(10) Assists victims of crimes in claiming the benefits guaranteed under the State’s Victims Bill of Rights;
(11) Represents the State when defendants file for Post Conviction Relief and when they appeal their convictions;
(12) Sponsors a Youth Mentor Program designed to prevent juvenile crime and rescue at-risk youngsters before they commit violent offenses.
As Chief Legal Officer, the Attorney General:
(1) Represents and advises the State, its agencies, political subdivision, and its officials in legal matters when the State is a party to a legal action, either as plaintiff or defendant;
(2) Is responsible for employing and supervising those attorneys who represent the State, as well as, overseeing the State’s litigation and effectuating South Carolina’s legal policy;
(3) Issues official legal opinions upon request by constitutional officers, members of the General Assembly, and certain state and local officials;
As Securities Commissioner, the Attorney General:
(1) Oversees the registration of all persons engaged in the sale of securities in the State of South Carolina; investigates allegations of fraud or other violations of securities laws and takes appropriate enforcement action; and provides information on securities laws and practices.