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DVHAN in Lexington, South Carolina

Criminal Domestic Violence of a High Aggravated Nature

DVHAN is too serious of an offense to try to execute alone. Putting off planning your defense also is not in your best interests. If you would like to receive a confidential and no-cost case evaluation with our Lexington criminal lawyers, contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC.

The offense of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature (DVHAN) is South Carolina's felony domestic violence law. It is a felony punishable in the court of general sessions and prosecuted by the solicitor's office. The law is codified in South Carolina Code §16-25-65. Anyone convicted in court will face a mandatory one year to a maximum of ten years in prison. The one-year minimum sentence cannot be suspended by the court, which means that if you plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial, it is mandatory that you face a prison term. There are many options that anyone charged with DVHAN can take to protect their interests.


The majority of criminal domestic violence (CDV) arrests are to the misdemeanor CDV charge. This is the offense that would typically be referred to your local magistrate, municipal or specialized CDV court. All felony CDV cases in South Carolina are handled exclusively in the court of general sessions. The primary difference between CDV and DVHAN is that the felony charge must also have an aggravating component.

This is usually an allegation involving:

  • Use of a weapon
  • Serious bodily harm
  • Assault which could cause serious harm or death

Many times people are arrested for DVHAN (which carries ten years) when the offense should only be CDV (which carries 30 days).

Understanding DVHAN Law

To first understand CDV law, it is important that you understand the terminology used by the police, prosecutors and courts. Domestic violence in South Carolina has been defined as a physical assault, attempted physical assault or threat of a physical assault against a household member. Physical assault in this context means an unwanted or rude touching.

There is no requirement of actual harm, or injury, a household member considered is a:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse
  • Someone you have a child in common with
  • Someone of the opposite sex you now or formerlly live(d) with

We know that many times people are arrested because of police errors, the result of a violation of their rights, or simple false accusations. As a relationship crime, DVHAN is especially susceptible to these sorts of influences.

What are my options in Lexington, SC?

When you have been arrested for DVHAN you should be aware that you are facing one of the most serious criminal offenses in South Carolina. Very few criminal offenses carry mandatory prison time like DVHAN, examples of other similar charges are murder, armed robbery, and criminal sexual conduct. Our lead attorney, James R. Snell, Jr., knows all of the options for resolving a felony domestic violence charge.

You may have the option for referral and completion of the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program. This is only by specific consent of the prosecutor. Completion will result in a dismissal of the criminal charge and an expungement of the arrest record. Full contested trial where all aspects of the DVHAN and other criminal allegations will be challenged. A negotiated plea bargain where the charge is reduced to misdemeanor CDV or another charge. This may result in the sentence being only a small fine or "time served." During your case evaluation, you will receive an honest assessment of your situation along with any potential legal options that may be available. We will also help determine if your case is a DVHAN or if you are being prosecuted for a different offense.

Our law office works with clients in the Lexington and Columbia areas, as well as in other areas of South Carolina. Contact us today.

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