Alexa

Domestic Violence Lawyers

Aggressive Domestic Violence Representation in South Carolina

Under South Carolina law, domestic violence charges can involve an accusation against a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, or household member.

Just because you were arrested and charged with domestic violence (also known as criminal domestic violence or CDV) does not mean that you are guilty. Many factors need to be considered when preparing your defense after your arrest which is why contacting a qualified attorney immediately after arrest is imperative.

What is Domestic Violence?

As defined by South Carolina statute, domestic violence is physical harm or the threat/attempt to cause physical harm to a household member.

A household member is defined as being male and female and are either:

  • Married
  • Used to be married
  • Live together
  • Used to live together
  • Share a child in common

Domestic violence sometimes is a pattern of behavior used by the aggressor to establish power and control over another person.  The violence can be physical such as hitting, slapping or shoving but can also be emotional or psychological abuse such as threatening physical harm to self, partner, or partner’s friends, family or children. With South Carolina ranking worst in the nation for deadly violence against women according to a report released in September 2015 by the Violence Policy Center, law enforcement are feeling extra pressure to protect the victim.

What Happens if I’m Found Guilty?

If charged with domestic violence, building an appropriate defense from the beginning is of vital importance.  A guilty conviction can affect your professional and personal life.

A DV conviction can have severe consequences, including:

  • Imprisonment
  • Lost child custody or visitation rights
  • Large fines
  • Mandatory community service
  • Counseling or anger management classes
  • A permanent mark on your criminal record
  • Loss of your right to carry a firearm

Domestic Violence Penalties

All domestic violence crimes  (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree) have the same base element-the Defendant inflicted physical harm to a household member OR offered/attempted to cause physical harm with the present ability to do so.

First Degree Domestic Violence

SC Code §16-25-20(B)

Penalty: 0-10 years (classified as a felony)

Defendant physically harmed the victim or threatened to physically harm the victim and had the ability, at that particular moment, to follow through with the threat; AND either:

  • Has 2 or more prior DV convictions within the past 10 years; OR
  • Harm inflicted is categorized as great bodily injury and involves:
    • substantial risk of death
    • substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
    • substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment; OR
  • Defendant used a gun; OR
  • Defendant committed 2nd degree domestic violence AND either:
    • Defendant was in process of violating Protection Order; OR
    • Defendant knew or should have known Victim was pregnant; OR
    • Defendant was in the process of committing a robbery, burglary, theft or kidnapping (Accused broke into a place where the Victim was without permission); OR
    • Defendant chokes, smothers Victim blocking airway; OR
    • Defendant blocks Victim’s use of their cell phone, landline phone or any other electronic communication interfering with the ability to request assistance from law enforcement

Second Degree Domestic Violence

South Carolina §16-25-20(C)

Penalty: 0-3 years and/or $2500-$5000 fine (categorized as misdemeanor)

Defendant physically harmed the victim or threatened to physically harm the victim and had the ability, at that particular moment, to follow through with the threat; AND either:

  • The harm inflicted is categorized as moderate bodily injury and involves:
    • Prolonged loss of consciousness
    • Temporary/moderate disfigurement
    • Temporary loss of function of bodily member (toes, arms, fingers, etc.) or organ(s)
    • medical treatment requiring regional or general anesthesia
    • broken or fractured bones; OR
  • Defendant has one prior domestic violence conviction within past 10 years; OR
  • Committed 3rd degree domestic violence AND either:
      • was in the process of violating a protection order: OR
      • defendant knew or should have known victim was pregnant; OR
      • minor was present or perceived the event; OR
      • offense committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; OR
      • offense committed by impeding victim’s breathing or air flow; OR
      • Defendant blocks Victim’s use of their cell phone, landline phone or any other electronic communication interfering with the ability to request assistance from law enforcement

Third Degree Domestic Violence

South Carolina §16-25-20(D)

Penalty: 0-90 days and/or $1000-$2500 fine (categorized as misdemeanor)

Defendant physically harmed the victim or threatened to physically harm the victim and had the ability, at that particular moment, to follow through with the threat.

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature

South Carolina §16-25-65

Penalty: 0-20 years (categorized as a felony)

Evidence shows that Defendant either:

  • Committed the offense with extreme indifference to the value of human life AND great bodily injury occurs which includes:
    • substantial risk of death
    • substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
    • substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment; OR
  • Committed the offense with extreme indifference to the value of human life AND the threat of great bodily injury or death is inferred by the Victim (i.e. Defendant commits the offense by placing a gun to the Victim’s head); OR
  • Defendant violates a protection order AND, in the process, commits DV 1st degree.

DV Process

An officer responding to the call may identify who they deem to be the primary aggressor; if a physical injury is noted, no matter how slight, the call can end with someone going to jail. The officer does not need the victim’s cooperation to proceed forward with a charge.

After arrest, the decision of whether to proceed lies in the hands of a prosecutor, requiring the immediate assistance of a DV defense attorney who knows the system. Regardless of the circumstances, being accused of domestic violence is a serious charge that can result in serious consequences. It can tear apart your family, result in prison time, or end your career.

Even if the Judge releases you on bond, conditions may be placed on that bond, acting as a Protection Order to the Victim, which may force you to leave your home and stay away from your spouse or significant other while awaiting trial.

Strom Law Firm Attorneys Challenge the Validity of New Law

On June 4, 2015, the Governor signed into law the Domestic Violence Reform Act which nullified the old criminal domestic violence laws which had been in effect in the state of South Carolina for years.  However, the passing of the new reform act has caused heated debates regarding the definition of household members and equality in SC’s.  Representing Strom Law Firm, criminal defense attorneys Bakari Sellers and Alexandra Benevento, argued before the SC Supreme Court in March of 2016.  The new law provides no remedy for domestic violence victims in an unmarried same-sex relationship.  The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision in the upcoming months.

Charged with Domestic Violence?

The DV attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC have experience and the resources you need to challenge your domestic violence charge.  We provide aggressive representation and will provide you with a well planned defense.  Contact us today for your free consultation.  We offer flexible payment options and accept Visa and Mastercard.

BestLawyers.comAVBetter Business Bureau