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An Overview of South Carolina’s Domestic Violence Laws

In 2015, South Carolina law changed the way it handles domestic violence cases. More levels of domestic violence were added. Instead of two categories, misdemeanor or high and aggravated nature, there are now four degrees of severity. Let’s look a little closer at domestic violence laws.
What’s the Difference Between Domestic Violence and Assault and Battery?
To be considered domestic violence, an assault must have been committed against a household member. Contrary to how it sounds, this doesn’t limit victims to those living in the same house. Household members can include your spouse or former spouse, someone you live with or used to live with, or someone you have a child with.
What Are the Four Degrees of Domestic Violence?

  • The lowest degree of domestic violence in South Carolina is 3rd degree. It states that you cannot cause injury or physical harm to a household member or threaten them with harm causing imminent fear. It’s a misdemeanor and can cost the abuser between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
  • 2nd degree domestic violence includes everything from 3rd degree plus one additional factor. These factors may include moderate bodily injury that leads to loss of consciousness, disfigurement, fracture, dislocation, or needing to receive medical attention with anesthesia for loss of function in a body part or organ. It also includes a prior domestic violence conviction in the last 10 years, violation of a protection order, abuse in the presence of a minor, attacking a pregnant victim, restricting the victim’s air flow, committing the offense during a robbery or kidnapping, or blocking access to a phone or device to stop the victim from calling medical care or police. To be considered 2nd degree, only one of these factors has to be proven. Punishment is up to 3 years in jail and a fine costing between $2,500 and $5,000.
  • Like 2nd degree domestic violence, 1st degree requires an additional factor on top of the threat of violence. 1st degree factors include injury that results in a substantial risk of death, causes protracted impairment or loss of function of a body part or organ, or causes permanent disfigurement; two or more domestic violence convictions in the last 10 years; use of a firearm; violation of a protection order with any other 2nd degree factor; or a 2nd degree offense that happens during a robbery or kidnapping, against a pregnant victim, in front of a child, or while impeding the victim’s breathing or blocking them from calling for medical care or police. 1st degree domestic violence is considered a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
  • Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature needs one factor past 1st degree. These include extreme indifference to the value of human life, causing fear of imminent great bodily injury or death, and violation of a protection order leading to domestic violence in the 1st degree.

The Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team is a compassionate group of attorneys with years of experience handling cases like yours. Call us today for a confidential free consultation at 843-626-5480.

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