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Columbia Criminal Domestic Violence Attorneys

Being charged or arrested for criminal domestic violence can have serious repercussions for a person’s liberties. Depending on prior convictions, a person who is found guilty of criminal domestic violence can face fines and/or jail time, as well as other non-criminal consequences for this conviction.

If you have recently been arrested for or charged with criminal domestic violence in Columbia, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. The experienced Columbia criminal defense lawyers of Truslow & Truslow have the knowledge and skill to represent you in your case, and we will do everything we can to fight on behalf of your interests and your liberties. Contact us today at (803) 256-6276 to learn more about your options.

What Is Criminal Domestic Violence?

According to South Carolina law, criminal domestic violence (CDV) is defined as follows:

  • Causing injury or harm to a household member, or
  • Threatening or attempting to cause injury or harm to a household member while having the apparent capability to carry out that threat or attempt

Depending on the severity of the harm and other circumstances surrounding the offense, CDV can be classed as first, second, or third degree, or as CDV of a high and aggravated nature.

The domestic violence code also makes it a crime to violate a domestic violence protection order (restraining order). Furthermore, it is a criminal act for a person who is charged with CDV or who is the subject of a protection order to come onto the premises of a domestic violence shelter where a household member is living.

For the purposes of domestic violence law, household members include spouses, ex-spouses, people who have children together, or people of different sexes who currently live together or have lived together in the past.

Arrests for Domestic Violence

A police officer can legally arrest someone, with or without a warrant, if they have probable cause (a reasonable belief that a crime has occurred) to think that the defendant has committed any crime of domestic violence. This includes a violation of a domestic violence protection order. The officer might make the arrest even if they did not observe the offense.

In situations where the victim is injured, the officer is required to make an arrest if there is probable cause that CDV has occurred.

CDV of a High and Aggravated Nature

There are some forms of domestic violence, called “domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature,” that South Carolina law considers particularly severe. This occurs when the defendant is believed to have committed:

  • Great bodily injury to the victim in circumstances that manifest an extreme indifference to the value of human life, or
  • An assault (threat, attempted injury) that reasonably causes imminent fear of death or serious injury in circumstances that manifest an extreme indifference to the value of human life. This qualifies as CDV of a high and aggravated nature whether or not the physical harm has been caused.

Protection Orders and Emergency Orders

A protection order is a court order that prohibits one household member from coming near or being in contact with another household member. It is also sometimes known as a restraining order. A court may grant a protection order on a petitioner’s own behalf or on behalf of a minor child. They are generally applicable for six months to one year, with the possibility of extension.

The court usually grants protection orders after a hearing that occurs within 15 days of the petitioner giving notice to (serving) the defendant. However, in situations where the petitioner can demonstrate that there is an immediate and present danger of bodily injury, the court may issue an emergency protection order within 24 hours of the petitioner serving the defendant.

Punishment and Treatment for CDV

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the courts may treat CDV as a misdemeanor or a felony.

CDV in the first degree will be considered a felony. This carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years.

CDV in the second degree is a misdemeanor. The punishment is a fine of $2,500 to $5,000 and/or prison time of up to three years.

CDV in the third degree is also a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $2,500 and/or jail time of up to 90 days.

In certain cases of CDV in the third degree, if the victim’s safety is not seriously in question, the court may order a defendant to enter a batterer’s treatment program rather than serving part or all of their jail sentence. In some cases, the court may also determine that substance abuse treatment is appropriate.

Punishment for CDV of a High and Aggravated Nature

If a defendant is found guilty of CDV of a high and aggravated nature, it is a felony conviction that carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Punishment for Violation of a Protection Order

If a defendant violates a protection order, this is considered a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to 30 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $500. Furthermore, the offense is also considered contempt of court, which itself is punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of $1,500.

Punishment for Trespass

It is a misdemeanor to trespass on a domestic violence shelter. The punishment is a maximum fine of $3,000 and a maximum jail sentence of three years. If the trespasser was in possession of a dangerous weapon, the crime is a felony that carries a punishment of a $5,000 maximum fine and a five-year maximum prison sentence.

Contact a Columbia Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Being charged with criminal domestic violence is a serious matter. To have a chance at maintaining your rights and liberties, you should work with a qualified attorney who has a thorough knowledge of the law.

The trusted criminal defense attorneys of Truslow & Truslow have the experience and knowledge necessary to fight for your best interests. Call us today at (803) 256-6276 for a consultation, and we can give you an overview of your legal options.

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