In 2015, South Carolina changed its criminal statutes to include multiple degrees of domestic violence offenses. Previously, there were only two types of offenses in South Carolina, a misdemeanor for criminal domestic violence and aggravated criminal domestic violence. Now, domestic violence laws contain a variety of levels, degrees, and offenses, which may be difficult to understand without the help of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.

Regardless, the basis of the offense remains the same. An act of domestic violence occurs when one person causes or attempt to cause physical harm to another member of their household. Domestic violence accusations can be emotional and tricky to handle, but a Charleston domestic violence lawyer could work with an accused individual to preserve their rights and freedoms in court.

State Domestic Violence Laws

Under South Carolina law, particular definitions apply to domestic violence laws. First, the offense requires that one household member either caused or intended to cause physical harm to another household member. Under the law, household members are defined as spouses, former spouses, individuals who have a child together, or individuals who live or have lived together. If the incident does not involve a household member, the crime will not be charged as domestic violence, but rather battery or assault.

Second, the law stipulates that one does not need to cause actual physical harm against another for there to be a domestic violence charge, but rather that the offender attempted to commit harm or had the intent to commit harm. For example, if one person throws an item at the other and misses, that may be a reasonable attempt to cause harm, and the case could be pursued as a domestic violence charge. Contact a dedicated domestic violence lawyer in Charleston to learn more about state laws and how an attorney could help one’s case.

Possible Convictions for Domestic Violence

South Carolina law holds different degrees for domestic violence offense. The most severe of these is domestic violence of a high or aggravated nature, often abbreviated to DVHAN. Aggravated domestic violence involves intentional disregard for human life and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

A slightly lower offense is domestic violence in the first degree. An individual may be found guilty of first-degree domestic violence if they cause severe bodily injury to the victim, are in violation of a pre-existing order of protection, use a weapon or firearm, or commit the offense against a minor. First-degree domestic violence is charged as a felony and may result in 10 years of prison time.

Domestic violence in the second-degree is an assault that results in moderate physical harm to the victim, was committed against a pregnant woman, or committed in front of a child. Also a felony, consequences for second-degree domestic violence may include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison.

The lowest domestic violence charge is domestic violence in the third-degree, which does not include aggravating factors or the same severity as first or second-degree domestic violence. This conviction may lead to a fine of up to $5,000.

Speak with a Charleston Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence is punished harshly in Charleston. Because domestic violence often happens in the privacy of a home, it may be difficult for an officer to understand the severity of the harm or the specific facts of a case. With this uncertainty in mind, contact a Charleston domestic violence lawyer who could defend you in court and work to preserve your future.