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Although criminal domestic violence laws were primarily enacted to assist women who are trapped in abusive relationships, we are now seeing more and more women who find themselves to be the one arrested. Many women who are arrested have themselves been the victim of relationship violence. Women may be arrested when their partner makes a false or unfair report to law enforcement. Many times our clients find themselves arrested after they or someone on their behalf called 911 to report an argument.

Attorney James Snell is the author of the book Challenging CDV, which was written to help defendants understand South Carolina domestic violence law and available defense strategies. Everyone meeting with us about their case will receive a free copy.

Fighting DV Charges in South Carolina

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, our domestic violence defense attorneys have experience representing women who have been arrested and charged as the abuser. We have represented women in counties throughout South Carolina including Greenville, Richland, Lexington, Sumter, Orangeburg, and Charleston. Our goal is to help our clients avoid being falsely and unfairly convicted as a criminal.

We help fight allegations that arise from circumstances such as:

  • When domestic violence has occurred, but the police arrest the woman even though she was innocent and they should have arrested the man
  • When no crime has occurred and the police leap to conclusions based on false evidence
  • When the woman is victimized after being in a relationship with an abusive or manipulative man
  • Where the woman called 911 to try to get help, only to find herself arrested and taken to jail
  • Isolated incidents involving mutual arguments or alcohol consumption
  • Situations where the woman wrongly confessed in order to protect her male partner, only to be surprised when she herself was arrested and charged with domestic abuse

The law does not make any distinction between a man and a woman when it comes to criminal domestic violence. Woman who are arrested, even in situations where they have no prior criminal record, face the same stiff penalties that an abusive man would face.

The penalties for criminal domestic violence may include:

  • A fine of over $5,000 for a DV 3rd
  • Sentences ranging from up to 90 days for DV 3rd, to up to 20 years for DVHAN
  • Public criminal record
  • Loss of employment or professional licensing
  • Difficulties in family court in any divorce or child custody case

It is important for anyone who has been charged with any DV charge, or for anyone who is helping a loved one with a charge, to understand that there are many legal strategies that can result in avoiding the criminal conviction. If you are ready to schedule your free initial consultation with our Lexington criminal defense attorney, contact us today.

Don't Go to Court Alone

The first court date written on a blue ticket or assigned in Bond Court for a DV 3rd Degree is a bench trial. At this hearing, there will be a judge on the bench expecting to take a guilty plea or conduct a "summary" style trial –without the defendant having the benefit of pretrial discovery or a jury. Things can move very quickly at these hearings, and unless the defendant has retained a lawyer in advance, no one is allowed to provide her with any legal advice.

By law, the police, court staff, professional prosecutor or judge are not allowed to help a defendant with her defense, or even help her decide how to plead. By retaining an attorney beforehand, a defendant will have access to the appropriate defense strategies that can help avoid a conviction. These include things such as pre-trial discovery, suppression motions, subpoenaed witnesses, and a jury trial. Having a defense provides the best possible chance of a positive outcome.

General Session Cases

In most areas of South Carolina only DV 2nd Degree or higher charges are referred to General Sessions Court (exceptions include Spartanburg and York counties). If your DV case has been referred to General Sessions you should know that this is the same court that deals with major felony cases, and the same procedures and time-lines usually apply. Anyone charged with one of these offenses definitely needs an attorney as soon as possible.

No Drop Policy Applies

The no drop policy applies equally to women defendants. This policy, as applied by courts and police departments throughout South Carolina, prevents a DV case from being dismissed out of court. This means that your case will not be dropped simply because the alleged victim asks. The no drop policy does not prevent your case from being resolved in other ways at court, including: being legally dismissed, being referred into pre-trial intervention (PTI), having charges reduced or being found not guilty after a trial. While the no drop policy requires every defendant to take their case seriously, it does not make any case hopeless.

Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) and DV

Many people don't realize it but the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program can be used to resolve a DV charge. Not every area in South Carolina will allow PTI for DV, but in the areas where it is available it can be a good option for many women who have been charged. The areas that don't offer PTI typically do so for political reasons so local politicians can report being tough on domestic violence (without regard to the merits of individual cases). To be referred into PTI will require the consent of the court and the prosecutor, and it is best to have an attorney retained before making the request.

PTI will include 26 weeks of domestic counseling in addition to the general requirements. Once PTI is completed it will result in a dismissal of the charge and an expungement of the arrest record. PTI can be a great way to assist in achieving a fully favorable result for a DV case without having to go through the stress and uncertainty of a contested trial. We have significant experience in negotiating PTI for women who have been accused.

Children & DV

Frequently women have complications caused by DSS or family court actions filed after a DV arrest. How a DSS investigation is responded to can make the difference between it quickly going away, or being a long drawn out process that puts the children at risk of being placed with other family members or even in a foster home. Often times the police will automatically notify DSS anytime they made a DV arrest with children in the home (even if the children didn't witness anything). Caseworkers then may follow up a few days later with letters, phone calls or surprise visits to the home.

Bond Violations and Modifications

Women who are arrested for DV are normally placed under the same bond restrictions that the court would impose on a man. This is even if the man indicates that he is not afraid of the woman. These restrictions can prevent a women from returning home, even if her children live there. In extreme cases women and children have been forced to live in a motel or with other family members while a man (who may have been the true abuser) lives in the home or moves another woman in to live with him.

It is imperative that if no-contact restrictions are imposed, they are fully complied with. Violating, which can be done by simply agreeing to contact initiated by the other party, can result in an immediate return to jail. This time there won’t be another bond setting, and you could have to wait weeks or months in order to get a court date.

We regularly file requests with the court to lift or modify no-contact provisions as soon as we are retained. In order to modify these orders a judge has to issue an order, almost always after a hearing in which the alleged victim must appear to indicate their consent. No-contact provisions aren’t simply removed because the alleged victim writes a letter or calls the court.

What is the first step?

Contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, LLC, if you or a loved one is facing a South Carolina criminal domestic violence charge. We offer free initial consultations in our office located in downtown Lexington. When you come to your first appointment, please be sure to bring any paperwork you might have received from the police or the Bond Court. You will be meeting personally with a defense attorney who will be able to answer your questions, give you an honest assessment of your case, and let you know exactly how your case will be handled.

Schedule your appointment with our Lexington women & CDV defense attorneys. Call us today at (803) 359-3301.

Former Clients' Experiences

  • “Thank you so much for handling my case for me. Since the first moment I talked with you I felt a sense of relief. I knew I had found a true professional, how relieved I was every step of the way. I will never forget your help.”

    Former Client

  • “The entire process from beginning to end left me with a high level of reassurance and relief.”

    Stu W.

  • “Very professional and personal.”

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  • “You absolutely exceeded every possible expectation I had. I'm simply amazed at how quickly you got results for me. I am beyond happy that I hired you.”

    Former Client

  • “Responsive, caring staff!”


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