How Is Domestic Violence Defined In South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the Domestic Violence law states that it is unlawful to:
(1) Cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member; or
(2) Offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.
How Serious Are Allegations Of Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence charges in South Carolina are very serious and need to be taken very seriously. Within 24 hours of being arrested and charged, you will have a bond hearing to determine if you should be let out of jail and if so, how much bond you will have to post before being released. If you are ultimately convicted, the repercussions can be devastating and can include jail time, large fines, and loss of certain rights, including gun ownership. It is very important that you seek out and retain the best possible lawyer you can to represent you on your Domestic Violence charge.
Is An Order Of Protection Automatically Placed Once Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed?
An order of protection or restraining order will not automatically be put in place if charges are filed. However, very often, the bond judge will put a “no contact” provision in place at your bond bearing. If the Defendant then attempts to contact the alleged victim during the case, they can be charged with a separate crime.
How Is A Domestic Violence Charge Determined To Be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and Domestic Violence – 1st Degree are both felonies. Domestic Violence – 2nd Degree and Domestic Violence – 3rd Degree are both misdemeanors.
What Are The Penalties For A Domestic Violence Conviction In South Carolina?
Domestic violence of High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) is a felony offense. You could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.
Domestic violence of the first degree is a felony offense. You could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.
Domestic Violence – 2nd Degree: You could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and/or be fined between $2,500 and $5,000, if convicted.
Domestic Violence – 3rd Degree: You could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and/or be fined between $1,000 and $2,500, if convicted.
What Part Do Evidence And Witnesses Play In A Domestic Violence Case?
The evidence that will be presented in court always plays a large part in all criminal cases, including Domestic Violence charges. Which witnesses will come to court and what they will testify to can mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. In addition, how the evidence is presented and argued to a jury and judge will be very important. It is vital that you have a skilled courtroom litigator if and when your case goes to trial.
What Should I Do And NOT Do Once Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed Against Me?
First of all, you should exercise your right to remain silent and not give any statements without your attorney present. The very next thing you should do is research and hire the best Domestic Violence attorney you can. You will want to hire a criminal defense attorney with prior experience on both sides of criminal law, i.e. both the prosecution and the defense. You will also want to make sure your attorney is top-rated in his field and has a proven track record of achieving the results you are seeking.
What Defense Strategies Can Be Used In Domestic Violence Cases?
There are many strategies that a skilled Domestic Violence defense lawyer can deploy in these types of cases. The evidence will determine which defense to use. Often when then the evidence is there, self-defense is the proper strategy and defense to employ to defend these types of cases. Another powerful defense is simply that the events did not happen like the complainant alleged. In other types of cases, mitigating factors can be presented to the prosecutor outside of court or the judge or jury during court to minimize penalties or go for an outright dismissal of the charges.
What are Some of the Factors that Will Be Considered by the Prosecutor and the Judge In a Domestic Violence Case in South Carolina?
Domestic violence incidents are complex and no two situations are exactly the same. When reviewing a case and deciding on what to charge or sentence the defendant with, the prosecuting attorney or the judge will consider:
- Which of the parties called the police
- Why police arrived on the scene
- Whether or not there were any physical injuries
- Whether there were any witnesses
- Whether there are photographs, written statements, or oral statements to review
- The content on the 911 recording, if available
- Whether the police had ever been called to the location before
- The timeframe and whether the alleged victim waited hours to call the police
- Any motives the victim may have for reporting the incident to police
- Whether or not the alleged victim is generally credible
- Whether any witnesses to the event are generally credible
- Whether the defendant or the alleged victim have a history of prior domestic violence convictions
Will I Be Able to Get My Domestic Violence Charge Expunged From My Criminal Record in South Carolina?
If you do not have any prior criminal record and you have been charged with Domestic Violence, you might be eligible for what is called the Pre-Trial Intervention program in South Carolina. The Pre-Trial Intervention program is offered by the state to first-time offenders of non-violent crimes only. If you can successfully complete the Pre-Trial Intervention program, then your Domestic Violence charge will be dismissed and also completely expunged from your criminal record.
Is Completing the Pre-Trial Intervention Program the same as Pleading Guilty to Domestic Violence in South Carolina?
The opportunity to take part in the Pre-Trial Intervention program comes in before your case can make its way to trial. The Pre-Trial Intervention program does not include a requirement to enter a guilty plea; you do not have to plead guilty or admit to committing any crime in order to be eligible for the program. You are eligible for utilizing the Pre-Trial Intervention program as long as:
- you have never before completed or attempted the program
- you are at least 17 years old
- you have never been convicted of a felony
- you have no other significant arrests or charges on your criminal record
How Do I Take Part in the Pre-Trial Intervention Program in South Carolina?
First, be sure to appear in court on the date that is written on your paperwork. When your name is called and you are given an opportunity to speak, ask about being accepted into the program. If you have an attorney, he or she can ask about the program for you. You will need to visit the Solicitor’s Office to fill out a Pre-Trial Intervention application. It is important that you follow the exact directions given to you. Keep any documents you receive from the court in a safe place, such as a folder or envelope, and be sure to bring all of this paperwork with you when you attend your first Pre-Trial Intervention program appointment.
What Do I Need to Know While I am Completing the Pre-Trial Intervention Program For My Domestic Violence Charge in South Carolina?
- You will be expected to pay all of the Pre-Trial Intervention program fees, including a $100 application fee, in addition to a $250 participation fee. You will have the option of paying by certified check or money order only. Your certified check or money order must be made out the Solicitor’s Office.
- If you are required to attend any kind of counseling, you are responsible for paying for it.
- You must bring a photo ID and your social security card with you to your initial appointment at the Solicitor’s Office.
- You will be required to complete a Pre-Trial Intervention program orientation.
- You may be assigned community service hours.
- You must keep all appointments and arrive for them on time.
- You must stay in the Pre-Trial Intervention program for at least a 90-day period.
- If you owe the alleged victim of domestic violence any money, you will be required to pay it back.
- You will be asked to promise that you won’t be rearrested while in the program.
- You must stay in South Carolina unless you get permission from the program to leave.
- You will be randomly drug tested.
An arrest for domestic violence is upsetting, but don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you. It is important that you think clearly and follow a rational path to beating the accusations against you. A Domestic Violence conviction has implications that are very far reaching both personally and professionally. If you have been accused of Domestic Violence in South Carolina, it is of the utmost importance to have an experienced attorney by your side throughout the process.
For more information on Domestic Violence In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.