There are many situations that can spiral out of control when people share the same residence and are part of a family. When emotions run high and someone makes physical contact with another person, or puts a person in fear of bodily harm, it is possible for domestic violence charges (criminal domestic violence) to be brought. It is crucial to contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible in order to minimize the impact that these charges will have on a person’s future.
South Carolina Law Concerning Criminal Domestic Violence
There has been a recent change to domestic violence laws in South Carolina – the enactment of the Domestic Violence Reform Act. If the incident that led to the charges of domestic violence occurred before June 4, 2015, the person will be charged under the previous legal statute. An event occurring on or after June 4, 2015 will lead to charges under the new law.
There are different sentencing parameters that apply based on the applicable law. Pursuant to the recently enacted changes to the criminal domestic violence (CDV) law, a person may face up to 90 days in jail for a third degree CDV charge, whereas under the previous law, a person could be fined up to $2,500.00 or sentenced to up to 30 days in jail. It is important to consult with a South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney who is skilled at adapting to changes in these laws.
In South Carolina, it is a crime to cause harm or injury to a member of the household, or to threaten or attempt to cause harm to a member of the household while in a position to carry out the threat. A person also may be arrested if he or she violates a domestic violence protection order. Under state law, a person who falls within the reach of this domestic violence statute includes:
- Current spouses;
- Former spouses;
- Individuals who have a child together; and
- Individuals of the opposite sex who live together at present or have lived together in the past.
See S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-25-10 and 16-25-20.
There are certain charges of domestic violence that carry more serious consequences, including the following:
- An incident where one person commits an act of assault and battery against a member of the household with a deadly weapon or commits an act of assault and battery that leads to serious injuries. Items such as guns, knives, and other things capable of causing great bodily harm qualify as deadly weapons; or
- An attempt, threat, or actual assault, with or without the associated act of battery, that leads to a reasonable belief that the person being assaulted is in danger of serious injury or death.
See S.C. Code Ann. § 16-25-65.
If a protective order has been issued, it prohibits a member of a household from contacting the person who sought the protection, as well as any other named parties in the order. The order may protect against the following:
- The defendant coming to the residence of the petitioner;
- The defendant engaging in any actions that may be classified as threats, abuse, or assault; or
- The destruction on any shared property.
A protective order also can award temporary custody of children or a shared residence. A protective order may be issued for from six months up to one year, at which time the petitioner may seek an extension. It also is possible for someone to obtain an emergency protective order if there is evidence to support an immediate danger that the petitioner could suffer bodily injury.
Strong Legal Advocacy is Critical
When a person has been charged with CDV, it is possible for the prosecutor to move forward with the case, even if the alleged victim of the violence will not cooperate in its prosecution. As long as there is probable cause for the charges, it is likely that the court will be involved in the resolution of the case.
It is important to realize that once a person has been convicted of CDV, even if it was charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant has lost important rights, including his or her ability to carry a firearm, in accordance with federal law. See 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9).
Criminal domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in South Carolina. A first offense can result in up to 90 days in jail. Typically, once the police are called to the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident, there will be an arrest made, even though modifications to the law now grant the responding police officers more discretion in determining whether or not to take one or more parties into custody after responding to a report of domestic violence. More serious domestic violence charges or arrest for subsequent incidents can lead to more severe consequences.
Many people are remorseful and embarrassed after being arrested and charged with domestic violence, deciding to handle it themselves rather than seek the assistance of an experienced attorney, but this is a mistake. A person’s freedom and rights are at risk and it is crucial to develop the best defense possible.
Call Li Law Firm, LLC Today to Learn More About Your Legal Rights
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is important to hire a seasoned South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney to advocate on your behalf as soon as possible. At Li Law Firm, LLC, we know how to uncover the evidentiary weaknesses in the case in order to minimize the impact that a domestic violence charge has on your life. In addition, we analyze every step taken by the investigating officers and prosecutor in order to determine if there has been a violation of your constitutional rights. Call us so that we can get to work for you immediately.