Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Charges in Columbia, South Carolina

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Criminal charges are a serious matter in South Carolina. Criminal allegations should only be approached with a knowledgeable and professional attorney who understands the legal system.

Since 1996, the experienced lawyers of the Strom Law Firm have defended the rights of people through the criminal justice system. Our attorneys have experience defending various types of criminal charges and will begin to utilize our professional resources as soon as we begin working on your case.

Our attorneys regularly visit the various correctional facilities throughout South Carolina. Strom Law Firm represents clients across the state of South Carolina and in Georgia. Our attorneys frequently visit Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, the Lexington County Detention Center, and various other detention centers across the state.An arresting officer may work for any of several law enforcement agencies.

In Richland County, arrests can be made by any law enforcement agency. Depending on the arresting agency, a case may be heard by the Central Court, City Court, or a Magistrate Court.

A bond hearing will happen promptly following an arrest on criminal charges. Thorough preparation for this and other hearings is only possible with adequate time.

Please contact an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest so that preparation can begin for your case. Being charged with a crime does not make you guilty of a crime. Through the criminal justice process, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.

Aggressive Domestic Violence Representation in South Carolina

Under South Carolina law, domestic violence charges can involve an accusation against a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, or household member.

Just because you were arrested and charged with domestic violence (also known as criminal domestic violence or CDV) does not mean that you are guilty. Many factors need to be considered when preparing your defense after your arrest which is why contacting a qualified attorney immediately after arrest is imperative.

What is Domestic Violence?

As defined by South Carolina statute, domestic violence is physical harm or the threat/attempt to cause physical harm to a household member.

A household member is defined as being male and female and are either:

  • Married
  • Used to be married
  • Live together
  • Used to live together
  • Share a child in common

Domestic violence sometimes is a pattern of behavior used by the aggressor to establish power and control over another person.  The violence can be physical such as hitting, slapping or shoving but can also be emotional or psychological abuse such as threatening physical harm to self, partner, or partner’s friends, family or children. With South Carolina ranking worst in the nation for deadly violence against women according to a report released in September 2015 by the Violence Policy Center, law enforcement are feeling extra pressure to protect the victim.

What Happens if I’m Found Guilty?

If charged with domestic violence, building an appropriate defense from the beginning is of vital importance.  A guilty conviction can affect your professional and personal life.

A DV conviction can have severe consequences, including:

  • Imprisonment
  • 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

All domestic violence crimes  (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree) have the same base element-the Defendant inflicted physical harm to a household member ORoffered/attempted to cause physical harm with the present ability to do so.

First Degree Domestic Violence

SC Code §16-25-20(B)

Penalty: 0-10 years (classified as a felony)

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; ANDeither:

  • Has 2 or more prior DV convictions within the past 10 years; OR
  • Harm inflicted is categorized as great bodily injury and involves:
    • substantial risk of death
    • substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
    • substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment; OR
  • Defendant used a gun; OR
  • Defendant committed 2nd degree domestic violence AND either:
    • Defendant was in process of violating Protection Order; OR
    • Defendant knew or should have known Victim was pregnant; OR
    • Defendant was in the process of committing a robbery, burglary, theft or kidnapping (Accused broke into a place where the Victim was without permission); OR
    • Defendant chokes, smothers Victim blocking airway; OR
    • Defendant blocks Victim’s use of their cell phone, landline phone or any other electronic communication interfering with the ability to request assistance from law enforcement

Second Degree Domestic Violence

South Carolina §16-25-20(C)

Penalty: 0-3 years and/or $2500-$5000 fine (categorized as misdemeanor)

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; AND either:

  • The harm inflicted is categorized as moderate bodily injury and involves:
    • Prolonged loss of consciousness
    • Temporary/moderate disfigurement
    • Temporary loss of function of bodily member (toes, arms, fingers, etc.) or organ(s)
    • medical treatment requiring regional or general anesthesia
    • broken or fractured bones; OR
  • Defendant has one prior domestic violence conviction within past 10 years; OR
  • Committed 3rd degree domestic violence AND either:
    • was in the process of violating a protection order: OR
    • defendant knew or should have known victim was pregnant; OR
    • minor was present or perceived the event; OR
    • offense committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; OR
    • offense committed by impeding victim’s breathing or air flow; OR
    • Defendant blocks Victim’s use of their cell phone, landline phone or any other electronic communication interfering with the ability to request assistance from law enforcement

Third Degree Domestic Violence

South Carolina §16-25-20(D)

Penalty: 0-90 days and/or $1000-$2500 fine (categorized as misdemeanor)

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.

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature

South Carolina §16-25-65

Penalty: 0-20 years (categorized as a felony)

Evidence shows that Defendant either:

  • Committed the offense with extreme indifference to the value of human life ANDgreat bodily injury occurs which includes:
    • substantial risk of death
    • substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
    • substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment; OR
  • Committed the offense with extreme indifference to the value of human life AND the threat of great bodily injury or death is inferred by the Victim (i.e. Defendant commits the offense by placing a gun to the Victim’s head); OR
  • Defendant violates a protection order AND, in the process, commits DV 1st degree.

DV Process

An officer responding to the call may identify who they deem to be the primary aggressor; if a physical injury is noted, no matter how slight, the call can end with someone going to jail. The officer does not need the victim’s cooperation to proceed forward with a charge.

After arrest, the decision of whether to proceed lies in the hands of a prosecutor, requiring the immediate assistance of a DV defense attorney who knows the system. Regardless of the circumstances, being accused of domestic violence is a serious charge that can result in serious consequences. It can tear apart your family, result in prison time, or end your career.

Even if the Judge releases you on bond, conditions may be placed on that bond, acting as a Protection Order to the Victim, which may force you to leave your home and stay away from your spouse or significant other while awaiting trial.

Strom Law Firm Attorneys Challenge the Validity of New Law

Columbia, SC State HouseOn June 4, 2015, the Governor signed into law the Domestic Violence Reform Actwhich nullified the old criminal domestic violence laws which had been in effect in the state of South Carolina for years.  However, the passing of the new reform act has caused heated debates regarding the definition of household members and equality in SC’s.  Representing Strom Law Firm, criminal defense attorneys Bakari Sellers and Alexandra Benevento, argued before the SC Supreme Court in March of 2016.  The new law provides no remedy for domestic violence victims in an unmarried same-sex relationship.  The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision in the upcoming months.

Charged with Domestic Violence?

The DV attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC have experience and the resources you need to challenge your domestic violence charge.  We provide aggressive representation and will provide you with a well planned defense.  Contact us today for your free consultation.  We offer flexible payment options and accept Visa and Mastercard.

Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina, also serves as the county seat of Richland County, one of the largest counties in South Carolina. Richland County is home to several important landmarks including the SC State House and the state flagship University of South Carolina

Fort Jackson Army Base, the largest U.S. Army installation for Basic Combat Training, is an essential facet of the Columbia community. Fort Jackson trains half of all U.S. Army soldiers every year, including 60% of women soldiers. An important part of the Columbia community, over 12,000 families call Fort Jackson home and over 35,000 potential soldiers are on campus throughout the year.

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks have their home in Columbia, and the USC is the state’s flagship university. The USC educates over 32,000 students per year on its Columbia campus. Columbia, ranked the #3 college town in the U.S., partners with the university, which is responsible for crucial economic growth and development in the city.

Columbia has many natural resources even inside the city limits. Multiple rivers, including the Congaree River, Little River, and Wateree River each run through Columbia, which is also home to Lake Murray. Kayaking, sailing, biking, and swimming are all popular attractions at these natural locations and provide entertainment and attractions for local residents and visitors.

Columbia is known for its nightlife. Between Five Points, The Vista, and the up-and-coming Main Street district, there are many options from which to choose. Main Street, regaining popularity quickly, hosts many events and is improving its reputation. Between students and working professionals, Five Points and The Vista bring signature events and competition to the area. Columbia is an exciting place to live with activity happening day and night.

In Richland County, most DUI arrests are made by South Carolina Highway Patrol, although arrests may be made by any law enforcement agency. Magistrate, Central, and City Court all hear cases after arrest, depending on the arresting agency. In the short time after arrest, suspects may be taken to detention at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center or to a local police station. After a short period of time in detention, a bond hearing will be set. Having an attorney from the inception of your case is an imperative action to defend your rights.

Our attorneys frequently have significant experience in The City of Columbia City Court, located at 811 Washington St., Columbia, SC 29201, and Central Court, located at 1701 Main St., Columbia, SC 29201. Our attorneys also frequently visit the Alvin S. Glenn detention center, located at 201 John Mark Dial Dr., Columbia, SC 29209.

Richland County is home to numerous highways and interstates. I-20, I-26, and I-77 each run through Richland County, and two other major interstates (I-85 and I-95) run nearby through other counties in South Carolina. These roads traverse South Carolina and all of its major cities.

Contact the Strom Law Firm immediately after you are arrested.

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