Domestic violence is at home in the Palmetto State. Every year brings about an average of 36,000 cases of domestic violence for the authorities to investigate and, quite often, for South Carolina CDV lawyers to defend.
For the 6th year in a row, South Carolina ranked fifth among the states with the highest number of women killed by men. While Columbia authorities and local organizations encourage domestic violence victims to speak up and seek help, the defendants of their accusations end up requesting the assistance of a Columbia criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal domestic violence accusations should never be taken lightly, not even when they are mild, unfounded, or they lack supporting evidence. A criminal record, spending time in jail, and paying fines does not benefit anyone. Moreover, what may have started as a small argument between household members could escalate into a war and destroy lives.
The best way to understand the implications of criminal domestic violence charges in Columbia, SC. and the importance of consulting a local criminal defense lawyer is to take a closer look at how South Carolina laws describe and punish the crime under discussion.
South Carolina Code Section 16-25-20 stipulates that it is illegal to physically harm or injure a household member, be they spouse, child, parent, or some other relative living at the same address. It is also illegal for anyone who has the ability to instill fear or create imminent danger to offer or attempt to physically harm or injure a household member.
Depending on how serious the physical harm caused is, and on the circumstances under which it occurs, criminal domestic violence acts are of four types, each with corresponding penalties and implications.
It is a less serious offense than second-degree domestic violence. It too qualifies as a misdemeanor and can bring about penalties of between $1,000 and $2,500, and/or a 90 days prison sentence.
It occurs when the aggressor:
Second-degree domestic violence qualifies as a misdemeanor and can result in fines between $2,500 and $5,000 and/or prison sentences of up to three years. Since a conviction can irremediably affect the life of the accused, the latter can greatly benefit from the advice and assistance of a Columbia CDV lawyer.
It occurs when the aggressor:
First-degree domestic violence qualifies as a felony and can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Charges of this nature should prompt the accused to enlist the services of a CDV lawyer in Columbia, SC, as soon as possible.
It is the most serious type of domestic violence, subject to SC Code Section 16-25-65. It occurs when the aggressor:
Aggravated domestic violence qualifies as a felony and can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Circumstances that qualify as proofs of indifference to human life value include the use of deadly weapons, intentional obstruction of the victim’s ability to breathe, minor witness, pregnant victim, committing theft, burglary, robbery or kidnapping, preventing a victim from reporting the event or request medical assistance.
Given the 20 years sentence someone accused of aggravated domestic violence risks, it goes without saying that consulting a Criminal defense attorney should be their main priority. It is important to note that, besides influencing the severity of the offense, the violation of a protection order can lead to additional penalties for the offender.
According to the same SC Code Section 16-25-65, offenders who violate the terms of a protection order issued under the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, or any protection order in force referring to domestic violence, no matter if issued in South Carolina or another state, risk charges of a misdemeanor. In case of conviction, they may spend up to 30 days in prison and pay a fine of up to $500.
Under the circumstances, anyone who has broken the terms of a protection order should consider getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The latter may be able to avoid the resulting charges and thus help their client avoid aggravating circumstances and the additional penalties they bring about.
The collaboration between a person accused of domestic violence and their CDV lawyer begins with the preliminary consultation. The accused shares the case details and any documents or evidence they have with the lawyer. The lawyer analyzes the facts from the point of view of South Carolina domestic violence laws and explains to the accused what penalties they risk, and what they can do to avoid or at least minimize those penalties.
At Kendrick & Leonard, we understand how painful and difficult domestic violence cases can be, so we provide free consultations to our potential clients in Columbia, SC. During those consultations, we do our best to offer all the information, answers, and advice people need, in order to enable them to make the best decision.
Generally, we advise our clients not to give up hope, as there are alternatives even for domestic violence cases where the evidence is crushing. The law itself provides solutions, and after years of helping South Carolina residents defend their rights in court, we know exactly how to speculate those solutions and secure a favorable verdict for our clients.
As mentioned above, even when the evidence against the accused is crushing and impossible to dismiss, an experienced criminal defense attorney will find solutions. One of them would be turning to the Pretrial Intervention Act and Code Section 16-25-20, which allows first-time offenders to enroll in a treatment and rehabilitation program in the pretrial stage.
Another one would be convincing the court to suspend the execution of the sentence or approve probation. In order for this to happen, several conditions have to be met:
Many domestic violence cases in Columbia start as arguments between current or former spouses:
In many of these cases, the victim realizes that her perception of the situation was subjective and exaggerated, so she decides to withdraw her complaint. A CDV lawyer knows exactly how these things happen and can intermediate the relationship between the parties and help them reach an agreement in which they both win: the victim receives the apologies and retribution she deserves, and the aggressor gets to keep their freedom and avoid the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.
In theory, all these may seem simple. However, it is important to keep in mind that, unless the victim withdraws their complaint before the scheduling of the trial date, the lawsuit will continue, and the parties will have to defend their interest in court.
A court trial involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy that the accused will have to handle on their own without a criminal defense lawyer to help them. It also brings about a lot of stress and hassles that a criminal defense attorney can help their client manage with ease.
It is never easy for the accused to find themselves in court, under the accusing eyes of people they don’t know, trying to explain that, contrary to what their accuser thought, they had no intention to hurt them, or, if they did hurt them, it was an accident, an impulse they regret and will never again give in to.
Many domestic violence cases involve children, and a conviction could weigh heavily in one’s petition for custody. Without a lawyer to prove their innocence or at least invoke attenuating circumstances, the parent could lose their right to visit the child or have those rights severely limited.
The criminal defense attorney will help their client prove their innocence and, when that is not possible, build a solid, complex, and infallible defense strategy. An experienced CDV lawyer not only analyze and instrument the evidence their client or the prosecution provide, the conduct their own investigations and gather their own evidence to support their case.
From finding witnesses to obtaining expert testimonies and investigating the past of the accused, a cdv lawyer will try everything in their power to help their client and protect the interest of the latter. Needless to say, the earlier they take on a case, the more they can do for their clients.
If you are facing charges of criminal domestic violence, no matter if you are innocent or guilty, under which circumstances the episode occurred, and what type of evidence the prosecution has on file, you need the experience and skills of a Columbia criminal domestic violence attorney.
The help of an experienced criminal domestic violence attorney can make the difference between having charges dropped and facing a long and tedious court trial, between getting away with participation in a treatment program and spending months or years in prison, away from everyone and everything you love and care about.
At Kendrick & Leonard, we know how difficult and complicated domestic violence cases are, and we understand the stress and suffering the parties involved face. We support and assist our clients from the moment they get in touch with us until they receive the verdict they were waiting for and they can move on with their lives.
We can help you too, but only if you let us. In order to benefit from our services, you have to schedule a preliminary consultation by calling 803.888.4038. We provide the preliminary consultation with a skilled cdv lawyer for FREE, so you have nothing to lose. You will win information, advice, and answers to any questions you may have.