Domestic Violence Charges and Laws in Greenville, SC
In South Carolina, it is a crime to commit domestic violence. Domestic violence has always been a crime — basically, it has been a subset of assault and battery crimes. Starting in 1994, laws were passed to focus more specifically on domestic/family violence. And, then in 2015 when Nikki Haley was Governor, South Carolina amended its domestic violence laws and now has four levels — or degrees — of domestic violence. See here.
Here is a quick rundown on domestic violence (“DV”) crimes here in Greenville, SC.
Four Domestic Violence Crimes in South Carolina
As noted, there are four degrees of DV in South Carolina: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree DV and domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature (“DVHAN”). In general, see S. Car. Code, §§ 16-25-20 and 16-25-65. These degrees are discussed below from least to most serious.
3rd Degree Domestic Violence in South Carolina
Under S. Car. Code, § 16-25-20(D) referencing subsection (A), third-degree domestic violence is defined as:
“(A) It is unlawful to:
(1) cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member; or
(2) offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.”
This is considered to be a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,000-2,500. “Household member” is broadly defined to be include cases where the accused and victim are or were married, are living together or were living together and/or have a child in common. S. Car. Code, § 16-25-10. DV charges are applicable to same-sex couples. See Doe v. State, Opinion No. 27728 (S.Car. Supreme Court 2017).
2nd Degree Domestic Violence in South Carolina
Second degree DV is also considered to be a misdemeanor and, if convicted, a defendant faces up to three years in prison and/or a fine between $2,500-5,000. Second degree DV is DV where any of the following apply:
- Moderate bodily injury results or means used was likely to result in moderate bodily injury
- Violation of a protection order
- Defendant had one prior conviction for DV
- DV was committed in the presence of a minor
- The victim was known to be pregnant
- DV coupled with robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft
- Attempted strangulation
- DV was committed using force to block victim from getting to a communication device
1st Degree Domestic Violence in South Carolina
First degree DV is a felony carrying a sentence of up to 10 years. First degree DV is an aggravated form of 2nd degree DV (i) where GREAT bodily injury results or was likely to result from the means used (instead of “moderate bodily injury”), (ii) where the defendant has two or more prior convictions for DV or (iii) where the defendant used a firearm.
Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature
This is also a felony carrying a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. DVHAN is DV “… under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life and great bodily injury to the victim results…” The crime of DVHAN can be committed, with or without an accompanying battery, if the circumstances would reasonably cause a person to fear imminent great bodily injury or death and can also be committed if the defendant commits first degree DV in the process of violating a protective order, commits domestic violence in the first degree. DVHAN is similar to 1st degree DV but the following apply:
- Use of any “deadly weapon”
- Strangulation caused “stupor or loss of consciousness” or
- DV committed in the actual presence of a minor (not just “being perceived” by a minor)
Call a Greenville, SC Domestic Violence Attorney Today
For more information, contact the proven criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of H. Chase Harbin. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Greenville, South Carolina, you must retain experienced defense counsel. There are many techniques that can be used by aggressive defense counsel that can protect your constitutional rights and potentially prevent conviction. Contact our office today via email or by telephone. We have offices in Greenville and Pickens, South Carolina.