Columbia Domestic Violence Lawyer

South Carolina has a specific statute dedicated to the prosecution and punishment of domestic violence. The law specifies that there are three degrees of domestic violence and that each has their own definitions and required punishments.  South Carolina also has one offense for domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

At the base of these statutes is the requirements that the accused cause physical harm, or attempt to cause physical harm to a household member.

A Columbia domestic violence lawyer helps clients who have been accused of domestic violence to fully understand the nature of the charges and to fight against them in court. A defense attorney strives to protect not just our clients’ freedoms, but also their family structure.

South Carolina’s Domestic Violence Laws

South Carolina’s codes contain a full chapter defining, and elaborating upon the crime of domestic violence. SC Code Title 16, Chapter 25 specifically states that there is a core definition of this act that forms the basis of all domestic violence charges.

As a Columbia domestic violence attorney can explain, it states that a defendant must cause physical harm to a household member, or attempt to do so in a way that would place a reasonable person in fear of imminent harm.

The first portion states that the alleged actions were taken against a household member. A household member is specifically defined as “…a spouse, former spouse, people who have a child in common, or a male and female who are living together or have lived together in the past.”

In situations where this familial relationship does not exist, the defendant cannot be charged with domestic violence. People should also be aware that there is no need for any physical contact to have occurred.

For example, if a wife were to point a gun while yelling at her husband, a domestic violence charge may still be brought, despite the fact that the gun was never fired. The fact that the husband may reasonably have feared being shot is sufficient.

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature

This charge is brought when the alleged crime is committed with an extreme disregard for human life.  Any conviction for DVHAN a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Degrees of Domestic Violence in Columbia

First Degree

First-degree domestic violence is the most severe version. This involves the core of the definition listed above when the act:

  • Causes great bodily harm to the victim,
  • Would otherwise be charged as a second-degree crime but violated a protective order,
  • The offense involves the use of a gun, or
  • The violence is committed in the presence of a child, among other factors.

A conviction of domestic assault in the first degree is a felony. This may result in a prison term of up to 10 years, but has no mandatory minimum making it extremely important that a Columbia domestic violence lawyer is consulted.

Second Degree

The middle-level offense of domestic violence is known as second-degree. This is applied when a person commits the assault and it results in moderate bodily injury, a person has one prior conviction of domestic violence in the past 10 years, or the offense would normally be a third-degree offense but was committed against a pregnant woman, or in front of a child.

A conviction under this statute mandates a required fine of between $2,500 and $5,000.00, a prison term of up to three years, or both warranting attention from a domestic violence lawyer in Columbia.

Third Degree

The least severe level of domestic violence is third-degree. This is the basic version of the crime and is applied when the assault is alleged but none of the aggravating factors apply that would otherwise lead to a 2nd or 1st degree charge.

A conviction under this statute carries a potential of up to 90 days in jail with a required minimum fine of $2,500

The statute also specifically states that people accused of 3rd degree domestic violence may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program such as Domestic Abuse Classes with Anger Management designed to educate and prevent future incidents.

How a Columbia Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help

Any allegation of domestic violence is a serious matter. Even if the police allege only a third-degree charge, a conviction can result in a long jail sentence, stiff fines, and a mark on a person’s criminal record. Even if no physical contact was made, criminal charges can still be brought.

A Columbia domestic violence attorney understands South Carolina’s laws concerning domestic violence. They can work to pursue our clients’ goals, whether they be to seek a fair deal and pre-trial diversions or to fight the charges every step of the way. The stakes are high in cases like these; do not take any unnecessary chances. Contact our firm today.