Domestic Violence Attorney
in Rock Hill
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, domestic violence refers to any situation where an individual causes physical harm or injury to a “household member”. A person can also be charged with domestic violence when they threaten or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a “household member”, and in doing so, they reasonably create fear of imminent peril.
A “household member” means:
- a spouse
- a former spouse
- person with whom the alleged offender has a child in common, or
- a person of the opposite sex with whom the alleged offender lives with or formerly lived with.
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South Carolina has the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act. Under this law, a person can file a petition in Family Court for a protection order against a household member. Relief under this section may be made by any household members in need of protection or by any household members on behalf of minor household members.
Violation of a protection order is a criminal offense punishable by up to thirty days in jail or a fine of $200. A violation may constitute contempt of court punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,500.
An order of protection may contain a number of stipulations, including:
- temporarily prohibit a person from abusing, threatening to abuse, or molesting the petitioner;
- temporarily prohibit the person from communicating with the petitioner;
- prohibiting the person from entering or attempting to enter the petitioner's place of residence, employment, education, or other location;
- awarding temporary custody and temporary visitation rights with regard to minor children;
- direct the person to pay temporary financial support for the petitioner and minor children;
- prohibit the transferring, destruction, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of real or personal property mutually owned; and
- provide for temporary possession of the personal property, including pet animals, of the parties and order assistance from law enforcement officers in removing personal property of the petitioner.
The primary domestic violence offenses in South Carolina are classified by degree based upon the seriousness of the allegations and the presence of aggravating factors. The most serious specific domestic violence charge is domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, SC Code 16-25-65.
The potential penalties for domestic violence offenders include:
- Domestic violence in the third degree – Misdemeanor carrying a fine not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500 or imprisonment not more than 90 days, or both.
- Domestic violence in the second degree – Misdemeanor carrying a fine not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 3 years, or both.
- Domestic violence in the first degree – Felony carrying imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature – Felony carrying imprisonment up to 20 years.
Under South Carolina law, some of the domestic violence aggravating factors include violating a protection order, prior convictions of domestic violence, offense is committed by impeding the victim's breathing or air flow, and the offense is committed in the presence of, or while being perceived by, a minor.
Contact Bruce Law Firm at (803) 336-7189 if you have been charged with any domestic violence charge.