Charged with Domestic Violence?
Lexington Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Our head attorney,
James R. Snell, Jr., is an experienced lawyer who has skill representing clients in Lexington,
Columbia and elsewhere in South Carolina. Criminal Domestic Violence,
or DV, is one of the most vigorously prosecuted offenses under South Carolina
law. If convicted, you will lose your right to carry or possess a firearm
and will face a substantial sentence or a high fine. It only gets worse
for those with a prior offense. James Snell is also the author of “Challenging
CDV” which is the book on the defense of South Carolina domestic
We regularly represent men and woman charged with the following offenses:
DV 3rd Degree
DV 2nd Degree
DV 1st Degree
Dealing with False or Exaggerated Accusations
Our Lexington criminal defense attorneys understand that just because someone
has been charged with domestic violence does not mean they are guilty
of any wrongdoing. Some cases are brought by one partner who may obtain
an advantage in a divorce or custody case. Law enforcement that responds
to a 911 call may have been erroneously trained. They may be under the
impression that when they report for a domestic disturbance call, they
must make an arrest, even if they lack probable cause to believe that
any crime actually took place. We also understand how alcohol, drugs,
or mental health issues can play a role.
Many situations are completely blown out of proportion and as a result,
you may be improperly or overly charged. Defendants are frequently pushed
through the system, even if a plain reading of the alleged facts giving
rise to the arrest would fail to meet the legal requirements for a criminal
domestic violence charge.
We also assist clients in
appealing their recent DV conviction, so do not hesitate to
contact a Lexington criminal defense attorney at our firm today.
Classifying a Domestic Violence Case
The two classifications for domestic violence charges in South Carolina
are misdemeanor and felony. Misdemeanor domestic violence cases are prosecuted
in the magistrate court for first-time offenders and are punishable by
either 90 days in jail or a fine of over $5,000. Repeat offenders, or
those charged with felony
domestic violence have their cases prosecuted in the court of general sessions. Many first-time
offenses though are actually now prosecuted in General Sessions, with
a possible sentence of up to three years (for DV 2nd Degree) through twenty years (for DVHAN).
In cases where the parties are married, living together or have children
together, the victim may be referred to the family court for the filing
of an order of protection under the South Carolina Protection from Domestic
Abuse Act. At an Order of Protection Hearing, the offender may be ordered
out of the home, required to pay temporary alimony, and lose custody or
visitation rights to children. Even in cases without an order of protection,
the bond court's "no contact" order may separate parties
from each other and their children, destroying whole families in the process.
Removing Bond Restrictions
Often individuals are told in bond court to have “no contact”
with their partner. This means no phone calls, e-mails, text messages,
or in-person contact. A violation, no matter how slight, can result in
an immediate return to jail for weeks or months (bond won’t be set
this time). This can be a huge problem for working families, married couples,
or for situations where one spouse is a caregiver for the other’s
physical or mental health needs.
Upon request, we can file the paperwork with the court to see to lift the
no-contact restrictions immediately upon being retained. In almost all
cases the court will require a hearing with all parties present before
making a decision.
General Sessions Domestic Violence
Many domestic violence charges are now referred to General Sessions. This
is felony court, and uses the same procedures, prosecutors, judges as
for cases like murder and armed robbery. Many people, especially those
with no prior criminal record and who believe that they have been falsely
accused, are shocked to learn exactly how this court operates.
If your case is pending in General Sessions there are a few things you
need to know right away:
Do not violate the no-contact order. If you do you could end up in jail for weeks or months, even if you are
totally innocent of the domestic violence charge.
The preliminary hearing is an important step- however it is not a trial. A preliminary hearing is to determine if the accusation by the police
against you fits the legal definition of your charge. We have specific
strategies to maximum the benefit of these hearings that we can share
with you during a confidential consultation.
The initial or first appearance is not a trial date. Unlike a speeding ticket, where your court date has you in court to face
a judge, there is no judge or any decision made at the initial appearance.
It is simply a “check-in” procedure with the prosecutor’s
office. However there are many things you can do before this date to maximum
the chances of success in your case. We will recommend a specific defense
strategy for you to help you make the most of the time you have between
a domestic violence arrest and when your case actually does get decided.
Handling Your Case in the Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court
Domestic violence arrests are so sought out by local law enforcement that
local communities have established special courts just to hear them. The
Lexington County Criminal Domestic Violence Court, or
Lexington CDV Court, is located at 139 East Main Street, Lexington, South Carolina. This court
prosecutes DV 3rd charges where the arrest was made by the Lexington County Sheriff’s
The Richland County Criminal Domestic Violence Court, or Richland CDV Court,
is located at 2500 Decker Boulevard, Columbia, South Carolina. This court
prosecutes DV 3rd charges brought by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
If a DV 3rd degree arrest was made by city police, such as Lexington, Irmo, Columbia,
Cayce, Springdale, South Congaree, or West Columbia, then the cases will
be held at that city’s municipal court.
If you have been charged with criminal domestic violence, you should retain
an attorney prior to appearing alone in court. This will help ensure that
you properly preserve your rights as well as not being pressured into
a situation that is not in your best interest. Our attorney James R. Snell,
Jr., is able to represent those charged with criminal charges related
to the family. If you have been charged or accused of a similar crime, please
contact our Lexington criminal defense lawyers to receive your free case evaluation.