Over 100 Years
By: E. Powers Price, Family Law Attorney, Domestic Violence, and James H. Price IV, Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Near Me, Greenville SC
A criminal domestic violence SC arrest can be a life-changing event. When a court order for your arrest is issued, life (as you knew it) will change forever with the family member who pursued the charges. This article explains some of the approaches or strategies a qualified domestic violence attorney near me can use in your criminal defense.
For the last 25 years, penalties for any type of domestic violence cases based on abusive behavior have been increased. New statutes on the domestic violence meaning have revolutionized the defense of family law criminal offenses and allowed for warrantless arrests by law enforcement and ex-parte protection orders.
Not all upstate South Carolina law firms handle both the criminal side of domestic violence (DV) services. Our legal team can provide targeted legal advice on the civil divorce law proceedings that pertain to child custody, child support and handling divorce proceedings, plus defend DV criminal charges.
Modernized laws now address both psychological abuse and unwanted sexual violence against an alleged victim that takes place in some domestic relationships. In 2020, a legislative overhaul by the SC Legislature of both felony (first degree) and misdemeanor DV laws (2nd degree and third degree) in the Palmetto State has occurred.
Why Domestic Violence Laws in SC Had to Be Revamped
Under federal guidance, almost all states have updated their family violence laws to encourage more victims to report domestic violence, since some studies show that only about 1% of cases are reported to police. This dismal statistic is why the federal government pushed for major revisions in DV laws in 1994.
These revised statutes have modified the domestic violence definition and require SC domestic violence attorneys to re-learn how to approach providing legal domestic violence help for those facing a domestic violence restraining order. As you read about the complexities of our modern-day SC domestic violence statutes, you will better understand the need to hire top criminal lawyers near me.
The New SC 1st Degree HV Law (Felony)
(B) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person commits the offense of domestic violence in the first degree if the person violates the provisions of subsection (A) and:
(1) great bodily injury to the person’s own household member results or the act is accomplished by means likely to result in great bodily injury to the person’s own household member;
(2) the person violates a protection order and in the process of violating the order commits domestic violence in the second degree;
(3) has two or more prior convictions of domestic violence within ten years of the current offense;
(4) the person uses a firearm in any manner while violating the provisions of subsection (A); or
(5) in the process of committing domestic violence in the second degree one of the following also results:
(a) the offense is committed in the presence of, or while being perceived by a minor;
(b) the offense is committed against a person known, or who reasonably should have been known, by the offender to be pregnant;
(c) the offense is committed during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft;
(d) the offense is committed by impeding the victim’s breathing or air flow; or
(e) the offense is committed using physical force or the threatened use of force against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with:
(i) the report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or
(ii) a request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.
A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than ten years.
In SC, the most serious felony first degree allegations on DV charge are for those that are Domestic Violence of an Aggravated Nature (which is sometimes shortened to the acronym “DVHAN”). A prison sentence for as long as 20 years can follow a conviction under these DVHAN laws, because each of the scenarios during which such attacks took place have a historic high chance of ending up causing fatalities or grievous injury to another person.
You can be charged with DV of high and aggravated nature if any of the following apply to conduct of the perpetrator toward the complaining victim:
- The victim died or could have succumbed, due to the serious nature of the injuries sustained (e.g., the perpetrator struck her with her or his vehicle, or swatted the victim in the head with an aluminum baseball bat);
- The victim suffered permanent disfigurement, from scars, burns or other physical harm at the hands of the perpetrator;
- The criminal act was carried out with a deadly weapon of any type, like a knife, gun, golf club, or axe.
- A minor child observed or heard the domestic attack as it happened;
- The perpetrator was assaulting a woman who was known (by the assailant) to be pregnant at that time;
- When the accused forcibly entered a dwelling place of the victim, or did the same at the victim’s work or business location or attacked the victim’s vehicle while the victim was occupying the vehicle;
- The accused defendant used hands or other ligature devices (i.e., ropes or cords) and choked or attempted to suffocate the victim;
- The alleged perpetrator blocked or prevented the alleged victim from using a phone to call for help.
What Is Second Degree Domestic Violence, as Compared to 3rd Degree?
What is domestic violence 2nd degree? When charged with misdemeanor domestic violence 2nd degree SC, the accused may have violated a prior restraining order issued by a SC judge.
Violating a protective order, when willful and a clear case of non-compliance, can create severe problems for our lawyers near me in upstate SC. The same type of obstacle can occur if the abused family members end up staying in domestic violence shelters near me. New laws under South Carolina Code 16-25-125 of the 2020 revised statute harshly deals with DV actors who trespass at a domestic violence shelter, as covered by paragraph (E):
(E) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than three thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than three years, or both. If the person is in possession of a dangerous weapon at the time of the violation, the person is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.
Also, is a minor witnessed the crime or heard it, this can escalate the seriousness of the charge. In addition, like a repeat DUI, and prior conviction for a DV 3rd degree with 10 years can boost the severity to 2nd degree DV charge in SC.
When a 2nd degree domestic violence charge is pending, our domestic violence advocate near me (as your legal professionals) will often suggest that our client attend and complete at least 40 hours of domestic violence classes near me. Our best outcome for some clients (under some case facts) will be to work toward having the current domestic violence 2nd degree charges reduced to a SC DV third degree case.
Our Law Firm’s Domestic Violence Services: Other Misdemeanor or Felony DV Laws in South Carolina
What does domestic violence 3rd degree mean? A domestic violence 3rd degree SC criminal charge is a misdemeanor crime and the least serious level of domestic violence South Carolina crimes. On the domestic violence wheel, many of these first offenders who commit an assault or battery can use domestic violence counseling for satisfying a major part of the DV sentencing and punishment.
Information about a Domestic Violence 3rd Degree South Carolina Charge. Laws controlling domestic violence 3rd degree SC cases are found in the SC Code, Section 16-25-20 (D). The misdemeanor jail time punishment can be up to 90 days in jail and fines ranging from $1000 to $2500.
This category of offense is a lesser-included offense of domestic violence in the second degree, or possibly even for the non-high and aggravated crimes committed in the 1st degree. So, through plea bargaining, a person’s 3rd domestic violence charge for a person could still be punished as a third-degree misdemeanor charge, and not as originally accused as a felony.
What is domestic violence 2nd degree in SC? The domestic violence 2nd degree SC statute calls for fines of $2500 to $5000 and up to three years of incarceration. Subsection (C) of Section 16 25 20 details what constitutes this more serious, “high and aggravated” misdemeanor offense as defined in Section 16-25-65 of the SC Code.
As stated above, a domestic violence 2nd degree SC accusation may be subject to being disposed of as a less serious domestic violence third degree case. Many times, the input of the victim of domestic violence and his or her DV lawyer will be satisfied with a certificate of completion of counseling sessions and mental health therapy.
In South Carolina, when is Domestic Violence a Felony? As stated above, a domestic violence first degree case is accused as a felony. That does not mean that you will be convicted of a domestic violence 1st degree felony offense. Our job is to prevent that, through building your legal defense.
Lawyers for Defending South Carolina Domestic Violence Laws
In some of our cases, false allegations have been made by the other spouse or domestic partner. In such cases, one of our experienced domestic violence divorce lawyers will assert investigate using a domestic violence self-defense strategy to fight the perjured accusations. For your FREE lawyer consultation call today by calling (864) 271-3535.