South Carolina dedicates an entire chapter of the criminal code to domestic violence, including defining the offense, identifying the penalties, and creating task forces to reduce its prevalence. This focus shows the State’s commitment to protecting its citizens from abuse. However, the laws can be daunting to understand when the charges that are being brought against you personally. If you are under investigation for or have been charged with this crime, do not delay hiring a North Charleston domestic violence lawyer. Time is critical in constructing a solid defense strategy and protecting your future.
The Scope of Domestic Violence
Defined by South Carolina Code §§ 16-25-10 & 15-25-20, criminal domestic violence occurs when a person injures, harms, or attempts to injure or harm another household member. By using the term household members, the law does not limit the definition of domestic to spouses. Victims of domestic abuse may also include former spouses, parties sharing children, and anyone who currently lives or formerly lived together.
In addition to outlining what constitutes a victim, the criminal code casts a wide net regarding what type of conduct is defined as domestic violence. Even a threat of violence can be considered illegal if the behavior would have a reasonable person apprehensive of imminent harm. For example, if one partner of a live-in couple raised a baseball bat at the other, but the potential victim avoided injury by fleeing the home, the partner wielding the bat may still face home abuse charges.
The Cost of a Home Abuse Conviction in North Charleston
Depending upon the facts of the case, the classification of domestic violence offenses ranges from third-degree misdemeanor charges to felony charges:
- Domestic violence of a high or aggravated nature (felony) – Maximum 20-year prison term
- First-degree domestic violence (felony) – Maximum 10-year prison term
- Second-degree domestic violence (misdemeanor) – Maximum 3-year prison term and a $2,500-$5,000 fine
- Third-degree domestic violence (misdemeanor) – Maximum 90-day jail term and a $1,000-$2,500 fine
Some perpetrators facing third-degree charges may have the option of attending a pretrial intervention class focused on anger management and domestic abuse in place of standing trial. Given the severity of the potential incarceration times and fines, those accused of domestic violence deserve representation with more than courtroom experience. To reach a successful outcome, defendants need someone with the know-how to take advantage of alternative resolution opportunities.
Further Reaching Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
Even before hearing the jury verdict or accepting a plea deal, domestic violence allegations can have long-lasting effects. Being under suspicion for committing domestic violence can tarnish a person’s reputation, undermine relationships, and negatively impact family finances.
Alleged victims in North Charleston can petition the court for protective orders, or the judge can impose a no-contact order when setting bail. If the parties are married, live together, or share children, ordering the accused to keep their distance would require them to move and possibly forego seeing their children. This condition will impose more emotional stress on an already tense situation and could introduce new financial pressures.
A conviction may jeopardize future job prospects, loan opportunities, educational acceptance, and professional admissions. Those convicted may also forfeit the right to possess a firearm and could even face deportation. A local domestic abuse defense professional could address these concerns in addition working to reduce possible prison time and fines.
Consider Having a North Charleston Domestic Violence Attorney Defend You
Everything is at stake when you face criminal charges and attempting to defend them yourself could have dire consequences. It could lead to a loss of freedom, family, and dreams.
Our North Charleston trained domestic violence lawyers can advocate for you at every stage of the process, effectively responding to allegations that may be false or misrepresented. Having us by your side sooner than later will help you reach a beneficial resolution, so call us today for your confidential consultation.