Greenville Domestic Violence Lawyer

Unlike some other states, South Carolina explicitly categorizes violent conduct against a relationship partner, spouse, household member, or family member as a unique criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances, domestic violence can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony offense, and applicable punishments may include multiple years in prison as well as steep fines, mandatory protection orders, and loss of custody rights.

No matter what degree of domestic violence you are accused of, you still have important legal rights that a criminal defense attorney could ensure are respected in court. With guidance and support from an experienced Greenville domestic violence lawyer, you may be able to argue your case much more effectively and mitigate your chances of facing serious long-term repercussions.

Degrees of Domestic Violence Defined by State Law

South Carolina Code of Laws §16-25-20 defines three discrete degrees of criminal domestic violence, the least severe variant of which is domestic violence in the third degree. This offense entails someone either causing physical harm of any kind of a household member, or threatening or offering to cause such harm with the “apparent present ability” to do so. Third-degree domestic violence is a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction could lead to a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, or both.

However, if domestic violence causes—or has a high probability of causing—“moderate injury” to a household member, or if the alleged perpetrator was previously convicted of domestic violence once within ten years prior, it may be considered second-degree domestic violence, a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by between $2,500 and $5,000 in fines and up to three years of imprisonment. 

Similarly, first-degree domestic violence—a felony that could result in a ten-year prison sentence—involves great bodily injury and/or a perpetrator previously convicted of two or more domestic violence offenses within ten years of the new offense. A Greenville domestic violence attorney could provide critical legal advice to anyone charged with any degree of this offense.

When Is Domestic Violence “High and Aggravated”?

The most severe domestic violence offense codified in state law is domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, which South Carolina Code of Laws §16-25-65 defines as a felony that, upon conviction, could lead to a 20-year prison term. An alleged act of first-degree domestic violence may be classified as “high and aggravated” if the perpetrator uses a deadly weapon in the process, or if any of the following circumstances also apply:

  • The act constitutes a violation of a protection order
  • The act occurred within view of or in front of a minor
  • The alleged target was pregnant, and the alleged perpetrator knew or should have known about that fact
  • The act occurred during any kind of theft, theft-related offense like burglary, or kidnapping
  • The act restricted the alleged target’s ability to breathe
  • The act involved physical force meant to keep the alleged target from calling emergency services or the police

The presence of these circumstances may also automatically aggravate a third-degree offense to the second degree, or a second-degree offense to the first degree. A domestic violence lawyer in Greenville could clarify in further detail how specific scenarios might be treated in a criminal court.

Seek Help from a Greenville Domestic Violence Attorney

Allegations that you assaulted a member of your family or household are taken much more seriously by law enforcement than standard assault offenses. If you are convicted of domestic violence in the state of South Carolina, you could find yourself facing fines, prison time, and various additional consequences in family court that may continue to impact you for years after your court case ends.

Seeking a positive resolution to this kind of case is often a lot easier with help from a Greenville domestic violence lawyer. Call today to see how a seasoned attorney could advocate on your behalf.