Criminal Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers | Bluffton, South Carolina
In South Carolina, we have seen a rise in cases of domestic violence recently. Our state has one of the highest rates of partner fatality in the country. As a result, South Carolina prosecutors have become vigilant and aggressive in prosecuting and penalizing those convicted of domestic violence. Just because you have been arrested for domestic violence does not mean you are guilty. Many defendants facing domestic violence charges have been falsely accused by their spouse or partner.
Protecting Your Rights and Reputation
The consequences of being convicted of domestic violence in South Carolina extend beyond jail time and harsh fines. If you are convicted, you may lose the right to possess ammunition or guns. You will also face social stigma and could find it more difficult to become employed or find housing. Indeed, being convicted of domestic violence can ruin someone’s life. Your career and personal life could be on the line if a domestic violence conviction goes on your record. With your future on the line, it is essential that you consult with an experienced and skilled South Carolina criminal defense lawyer.
Why You Need an Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer
At Bannon Law Group, LLC, we know that there are always two sides to the story, especially in domestic violence cases. There are many reasons why people make false accusations of domestic violence, such as child custody disputes, divorce, jealousy, and a desire to see a partner or spouse suffer. Our lawyers have the experience necessary to uncover all of the evidence in your favor to gain strategic advantages over the prosecution and achieve the best result possible in your case.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, domestic violence involves Causing physical harm or threatening or attempting to cause physical harm to a household member. South Carolina defines household members as the following:
- The defendant’s spouse
- The defendant’s ex-spouse
- A person who lives with the defendant
- A person who used to live with the defendant
- A person with whom the defendant shares a child
Domestic violence can be a pattern of behavior used by an aggressor to establish control and power over a household member. Domestic violence can be physical and include slapping, shoving, or hitting. It can also involve psychological abuse that is emotionally based, not physically based. For example, domestic violence can occur when someone threatens to cause another person harm, threatens to cause himself harm, or threatens a household member’s loved ones.
The Penalties for Domestic Violence
If you have been charged with domestic violence, discussing your case with a lawyer as soon as possible helps you build the best defense. A guilty conviction will have serious consequences for your personal and professional life. If you are convicted of domestic violence, you will face the following consequences:
- Lost child custody or visitation rights
- Large fines
- Mandatory community service
- Counseling or anger management classes
- A permanent mark on your criminal record
- Loss of your right to carry a firearm
Domestic Violence Penalties
South Carolina law breaks domestic violence charges into three different degrees or levels. However, all domestic violence charges have the same basic elements. The prosecutor will need to prove that the defendant inflicted harm to a household member or offered or attempted to cause physical harm with the present ability to do so.
Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature
Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature is extremely serious. Convicted defendants face up to 20 years in jail. The prosecution must show that the defendant committed the offense with extreme indifference to the value of human life and that a great bodily injury occurred or that the threat of a great bodily injury occurred. Prosecutors may be able to bring charges if the defendant violated a protection order and, in the process, committed domestic violence in the first degree.
First-Degree Domestic Violence
First-degree domestic violence is a felony and carries the harshest penalties. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 10 years in jail. The prosecution must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of first-degree domestic violence:
- The defendant physically harm the victim or threatened to physically harm the victim and had the ability, at that particular moment, to follow through with the threat, and
- The defendant had two or more prior domestic violence convictions within the past 10 years, or the harm inflicted on the victim involved great bodily injury
Under South Carolina law, great bodily injury constitutes an injury with a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or risk of protracted loss or impairment. Prosecutors can also bring first-degree domestic violence charges when the defendant used a gun or committed second-degree domestic violence, and one or more aggravating factors are involved.
Second-Degree Domestic Violence Charges
Defendants convicted of second-degree domestic violence face a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine between $2,500 and $5,000. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant physically harmed the victim or threatened to physically harm the victim and had the ability, at that particular moment, to follow through with the threat. The prosecution must also prove that either the harm inflicted caused a moderate bodily injury, the defendant has one prior domestic violence conviction within the last 10 years, or the defendant committed third-degree domestic violence with other aggravating factors.
Third Degree Domestic Violence Charges
Third-degree domestic violence charges carry a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine between $1,000 and $2,500. As with second-degree domestic violence charges, third-degree domestic violence charges are considered a misdemeanor. The penalties are less serious, but those convicted of third-degree domestic violence can also face other penalties involving their employment and ability to obtain housing.
Consult an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Are you facing a domestic violence charge in South Carolina? If so, your future is on the line. Contact the skilled criminal defense lawyers at Bannon Law Group, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about how we can fight for your rights.