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The Different Degrees Of Domestic Violence In South Carolina

If you have been accused of domestic assault or domestic violence crimes in the state of South Carolina, there are different levels and degrees of family violence crimes, ranging in seriousness. The least serious charge is third-degree domestic violence, followed by second-degree domestic violence and lastly, first-degree domestic violence. Our criminal defense attorneys at Young & Young, Attorneys at Law, in Charleston began their legal careers by prosecuting domestic violence crimes. Now, they use their inside knowledge and experience to defend those accused of domestic abuse crimes.

Defining Domestic Violence In The State Of South Carolina

In the state of South Carolina, domestic violence is injury or harm, or the threat of injury or harm by one person in the household to another. The domestic violence crimes in South Carolina are different than criminal assault and battery charges because they are directed at a family or household member. A family or household member is defined as a spouse or romantic partner, a former spouse or romantic partner, or the parents of a child.

Defending Charges Of Third-Degree Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in the third degree is charged when the defendant attempts to cause injury or harm to a family or household member and it is reasonable for the victim to feel imminent fear. Third-degree domestic violence is a misdemeanor crime. It is prosecuted in municipal court and presided over by a magistrate judge. Convictions for third-degree domestic violence charges can result in fines of up to $2,000 and a sentence of 90 days in jail.

Our co-founding attorney Kelley Flynn Young was appointed by the governor of South Carolina and previously served as a magistrate judge for Charleston County. She left her position on the bench to put her experience as a former prosecutor and magistrate judge to work as a criminal defense attorney.

Criminal Defense For Second-Degree Domestic Violence

Criminal charges for second-degree domestic violence are filed when the defendant’s actions caused or were likely to cause moderate injuries to the alleged victim. Second-degree charges are aggravated third-degree domestic violence when:

  • There was a minor child present at the scene of the defendant’s alleged actions
  • The alleged victim was pregnant and the accused knew or should have known about the pregnancy
  • The defendant allegedly prevented the victim’s breathing
  • The defendant allegedly prevented the victim from calling for emergency services or police assistance
  • The defendant violated an existing and active protective order

Aggravated charges of domestic violence in the second degree can also be filed if the accused has a prior conviction for domestic violence within the previous 10 years. Convictions for second-degree domestic violence can result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to three years in jail.

Defending First-Degree Domestic Violence Crimes

A prosecutor can file charges for first-degree domestic violence if the following occur:

  • The victim suffers serious or great bodily injury
  • The defendant allegedly violated an active protective order in addition to another second-degree aggravating factor
  • The defendant used a firearm

If the defendant committed a second-degree crime of domestic violence and additional aggravating factors existed, like the crime was in the presence of a minor child, the victim was pregnant, the act occurred during a kidnapping, theft, robbery or burglary, or the defendant allegedly prevented the victim from calling for medical help or law enforcement. A conviction for first-degree domestic is a felony and the defendant can face up to 10 years in prison.

Domestic Violence Of A High And Aggravated Nature (DVHAN)

In addition, in the state of South Carolina, domestic violence crimes can be charged as Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN). Additional aggravating factors include an extreme indifference to the value of human life, like using a deadly weapon or a first-degree offense of domestic violence while violating an active protective order.

Do You Need A Domestic Violence Defense Attorney? Call For A Free Consultation.

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony criminal charges for domestic violence, contact our criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation. You can schedule your free appointment by calling 843-619-7755 or by sending an email through our online form.