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What is the difference between a DV 3rd Degree, 2nd Degree and 1st Degree?

South Carolina currently has four separate domestic violence charges. While there are many similarities, there are many important differences too.

Similarities Between Charges

  • All South Carolina domestic violence charges are criminal charges, brought by the state.
  • No specific charge requires a prior conviction for domestic violence
  • No charge requires any actual physical injury
  • There must be a household member relationship between the defendant and alleged victim. This includes spouse, former spouse, people with children together, or those who have romantically lived together.
  • Prosecutors generally apply a “No Drop” policy, not dismissing cases at the request of the alleged victim. This does not however prevent dismissals for cause, not-guilty verdicts, favorable reductions, or pre-trial intervention (PTI)
  • No-contact bond restrictions can prevent any contact with the defendant and alleged victim during the pendency of the case
  • A conviction results in both a criminal record (damaging for background and employment purposes), loss of 2nd amendment rights, as well as sentencing by the court
  • Anyone charged has a right to retain counsel and object to the charge

Possible Maximum Sentence

DVHAN - Twenty Years
DV 1st - Ten Years
DV 2nd - Three Years
DV 3rd - Ninety Days

Felony Charges

DV 1st Degree
DVHAN

Misdemeanor Charges

DV 3rd Degree
DV 2nd Degree

General Sessions Only

DVHAN
DV 1st Degree
DV 2nd Degree

Magistrate\Municipal Court Eligible

DV 3rd Degree (but prosecuted in General Sessions in some counties)

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