After many months of deliberation in the Statehouse, the new South Carolina Criminal Domestic Law has been signed into law. This is a major revision of our CDV statute entitled "Domestic Violence Reform Act." It will not change current CDV charges, but will impact how cases are prosecuted going forward. Because this legislation is brand new it will be several weeks and months before police agencies, prosecutors, and courts throughout the state have fully adjusted.
The CDV charge has now been replaced by the following new offenses:
Domestic Violence in the first degree
This is a charge prosecuted in General Sessions by the Solicitor's office. It carries up to ten years in prison. It is based on an actual, or threatened, "great bodily injury", or two or more domestic violence convictions in the past ten years, or as causing "moderate bodily injury" when committed within the vicinity of a minor, involves choking, or a pregnant alleged victim.
Domestic violence in the second degree
This is a charge prosecuted in General Sessions by the Solicitor's office. It carries up to three years in prison. It is based on actual or threatened "moderate bodily injury", or one prior domestic violence conviction in the past ten years, or as causing or threatening "physical harm" with a pregnant alleged victim, a minor in the vicinity, while preventing access to a phone, or involving choking.
Domestic violence in the third degree
This is a charge prosecuted in Magistrate Court by law enforcement, Solicitor's office, or other prosecutor. It carried up to ninety days in prison.
This new law will subject many individuals to the prospect of long prison sentences even when there was no actual harm done to their partner, or an intent to cause harm. For example if there was an argument in a home that could be "perceived" by a teenager, that would now be prosecuted as "Domestic Violence in the Second Degree" and a first time offender could face up to a three year prison sentence (even if they have never, ever been arrested before). Even CDV charges that have no enhancements under the law are now prosecuted as Domestic Violence in the Third Degree" and the jail penalty has tripled to now up to ninety days.
Over the next several weeks we will be continuing to update the content on this website. If you have questions regarding the new CDV law and your case please contact our office at 1-888-302-5840 to schedule a consultation.