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What Are The Degrees of CDV in SC?
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What Are The Degrees of CDV in SC?

No one expects to be charged with domestic violence in SC, but it happens. Perhaps a family argument got heated too quickly, and before anyone knew it, the situation turned violent. The police were called, and someone went away in handcuffs.

This situation is not somewhere you want to be, but you’re here, and now you have to deal with it.

As of June 4, 2015, domestic violence laws in South Carolina changed. For anyone charged on or after that date, the laws are much different than those charged before. So you may be more confused than you normally would be.

What’s the definition of SC Domestic Violence (CDV)?

First, it’s important to understand that with the new law, criminal domestic violence (CDV) was renamed to just domestic violence. By definition, this criminal charge means to cause, offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to someone with whom you:

  • Are married to
  • Used to married to
  • Are living with
  • Used to live with
  • Have a child in common with

When you’re charged with domestic violence, it’s a serious issue you need to deal with immediately. But don’t fight it by yourself. Hire an attorney who is experienced in domestic violence cases. This person can help you minimize the impact to your life a domestic violence charge brings.

Fines, jail time and other consequences

Depending on how you are charged, domestic violence can bring about a wide range of punishments. Even the lowest level domestic violence charge is not something to take lightly. Fines and jail time are possible, and there are other consequences to a conviction such as embarrassment and limitations on employment opportunities.

SC Domestic Violence jail sentences and fines by degree:

  • DV 3rd Degree – up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 to $2,500 fine
  • DV 2nd Degree – up to three years in jail and/or $2,500 to $5,000 fine
  • DV 1st Degree – up to 10 years in prison
  • Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) – up to 20 years in - prison

What’s the difference between DV degrees and DV offenses?

When police officers and lawyers start talking about degrees and offenses, it can get confusing. Degrees tell you how serious a charge is. DVHAN and DV 1st Degree are felonies. DV 2nd and DV 3rd degrees are misdemeanors.

Offenses, on the other hand, are instances when you have been charged with a crime. If you have been charged with a crime once before, your new charge for that same crime is a second offense.

The number of past offenses has an effect on your new charge’s degree. Past offenses increase the degree. A charge that might have been a 3rd degree could in some situations be bumped up to a 2nd or 1st degree based solely on the number of prior offenses.

The following conditions are met…

When prosecutors look to charge you with a crime, they review what the law says about which degrees of the crime apply. Remember, degrees relate to how serious the crime is and directly impact how long jail sentences can be and how large possible fines are.

So what does it take for someone’s actions to meet legal elements for domestic violence charges?

The baseline for all charges is one person doing physical harm or threatening to do physical harm to someone with whom they have a qualifying relationship. As mentioned above, such relationships include marriage, former marriage, living together, formerly living together and having a child together.

Under the new law, two factors determine the degree a DV charge is: prior offenses and the severity of the act. The more times you have been charged with DV and the more harmful the violence, the more likely you are to be charged with a felony. Let’s take the charges in order from least severe to most severe to see how they differ.

Domestic Violence 3rd Degree

DV 3rd Degree is the lowest level charge. Higher level charges have circumstances that apply to them that push them up. While there is no such thing as garden-variety DV, a 3rd Degree charge is DV without anything unusual. If you’ve been charged with DV before, it is unlikely subsequent charges will be 3rd Degree.

Domestic Violence 2nd Degree

A 2nd Degree charge is still a misdemeanor, but something about the situation pushes it to a more serious misdemeanor, yet not to a felony. Examples of situational factors that push a DV charge to second degree include:

  • The victim suffering bone fractures, bone dislocations, organ damage, or unconsciousness; or
  • Violation of a protective order or restraining order in conjunction with the violence.

Domestic Violence 1st Degree

DV 1st Degree is a felony charge and is therefore more serious than the 2nd and 3rd Degrees which are misdemeanors. Examples of circumstances that make a DV charge 1st Degree include the use of a gun, choking the victim and blocking the victim’s ability to call 911. Any one of these examples--and more--can escalate the degree of a DV charge.

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN)

To push an act from a 1st Degree charge to DVHAN, there has to be something about the situation that warrants increasing. One of the following must apply:

  • The offense shows an extreme indifference to the value of human life AND gross bodily injury results; or
  • The offense shows an extreme indifference to the value of human life AND the victim reasonably fears gross bodily injury; or
  • A protective order is violated AND the act meets a 1st Degree charge

Someone to examine your DV Charges

The prosecution may already be building its case against you. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need a CDV attorney in Columbia, SC who knows how the prosecution thinks. Former prosecutor and current defense attorney Lori Murray has this insight and can put it to use in your case.

Ready to Speak with a CDV Lawyer?

Contact Lori Murray to discuss your situation.

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