The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, is questioning the legality of prosecutions under our state’s current
domestic violence laws. We believe that many current prosecutions may
violate the prohibition against criminal application of ex post facto
laws (an ex post facto law is one that is applied retroactively). Article
I, Section 4, of the South Carolina State Constitution prohibits application
of ex post facto laws.
Article III, Section 18, of the South Carolina State Constitution requires
that new laws have the State Seal affixed before they become final. There
have been recent news articles discussing how this step has been missed
for many new laws over the years. Although elected and government officials
may have various excuses for why this occurred, we do not believe that
unfinished criminal legislation should be the basis of arrests, prosecutions,
or criminal sentencing.
After research, we learned that the state seal was not timely affixed on the
domestic violence law as required for compliance with constitutional requirements under
our law. According to an affidavit we received from the South Carolina
Secretary of State's office, the seal was not affixed until October,
2017. This is over two years after the law originally began being enforced.
This issue affects likely every domestic violence case currently pending
in South Carolina.
We look forward to litigating this issue on behalf of our clients, and
are continuing to research what other
criminal laws may be effected by the omission of the State Seal.