New Domestic Violence Laws In South Carolina

THREE DEGREES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Element for ALL degrees of Domestic Violence: Defendant inflicted physical harm/injury to a household member OR offered/attempted to cause such with the apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.

Third Degree §16-25-20(D)

    • Evidence shows the defendant committed the required Element. In other words, the defendant either:
      • Actually inflicted physical harm or injury to a household member; OR
      • Offered or attempted to cause such harm or injury with the apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril

 

  • Magistrate/Municipal Court
  • Misdemeanor
  • Penalties: 0-90 days and/or $1,000-$2,500 fine.

Second Degree §16-25-20(C)

  • Evidence shows defendant committed the required Element and either:
    • Defendant inflicted MBl or actions were accomplished by means likely to result in MBl; OR
    • Committed BE and has I prior DV conviction within past 10 years; OR
    • Committed 3rd degree DV and either:
      • was in the process of violating a Protection order; OR
      • Defendant knew or should have known the victim is 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
      • Offense committed using physical force or threat of such force to block person’s access to phone/electronic communication device with purpose of preventing or interfering with report to law enforcement or request for assistance from emergency medical assistance (PFTBA)

     

  • General Sessions
  • Misdemeanor
  • Penalties: 0-3 years and/or $2,500-$5,000

First Degree §16-25-20(B)

  • Evidence shows defendant committed the required Element and either:
    • Committed BE and has 2 or more prior DV convictions within past 10 years; OR
    • Inflicted GBl or actions accomplished by means likely to result in GBI; OR
    • Used firearm while committing BE; OR
    • Committed 2nd degree DV and either:
      • was in the process of violating a PO;
      • Defendant knew/should have known victim pregnant; OR
      • minor was present or perceived the event;
      • offense committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; OR
      • offense committed by impeding victim’s breathing or air flow; OR
      • PFTBA.

     

  • General Sessions
  • Felony (Violent Crime and Serious Offense)
  • Penalties: 0-10 years

DV of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) §16-25-65

    • Evidence shows defendant either:
      • Committed offense under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life and GBI results; OR
      • Committed offense, with or without an accompanying battery, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to value of the human life and would reasonably cause a person to fear either GBl or death; OR
      • Violated a PO and, in the process, committed 1st degree DV.
      • Circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to value of human life include, but are not limited to: use of deadly weapon; DV against pregnant victim; in presence of minor; during commission of robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; offense committed by impeding victim’s normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to throat/neck or obstructing nose/mouth causing stupor/loss of consciousness for any period of time; and PFTBA.

 

  • General Sessions
  • Felony (Violent Crime and Serious Offense)
  • Penalties: 0-20 years

DEFENSES

  • Self-Defense
  • Accident/Mistake
  • Insanity/Incapacity

SECTION 16-25-20. Acts prohibited; penalties.

(A) It is unlawful to:

(1) cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member; or

(2) offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person’s own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person commits the offense of domestic violence in the first degree if the person violates the provisions of subsection (A) and:

(1) great bodily injury to the person’s own household member results or the act is accomplished by means likely to result in great bodily injury to the person’s own household member;

(2) the person violates a protection order and in the process of violating the order commits domestic violence in the second degree;

(3) has two or more prior convictions of domestic violence within ten years of the current offense;

(4) the person uses a firearm in any manner while violating the provisions of subsection (A); or

(5) in the process of committing domestic violence in the second degree one of the following also results:

(a) the offense is committed in the presence of, or while being perceived by a minor;

(b) the offense is committed against a person known, or who reasonably should have been known, by the offender to be pregnant;

(c) the offense is committed during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft;

(d) the offense is committed by impeding the victim’s breathing or air flow; or

(e) the offense is committed using physical force or the threatened use of force against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with:

(i) the report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or

(ii) a request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.

A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than ten years.

Domestic violence in the first degree is a lesser included offense of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, as defined in Section 16-25-65.

(C) A person commits the offense of domestic violence in the second degree if the person violates subsection (A) and:

(1) moderate bodily injury to the person’s own household member results or the act is accomplished by means likely to result in moderate bodily injury to the person’s own household member;

(2) the person violates a protection order and in the process of violating the order commits domestic violence in the third degree;

(3) the person has one prior conviction for domestic violence in the past ten years from the current offense; or

(4) in the process of committing domestic violence in the third degree one of the following also results:

(a) the offense is committed in the presence of, or while being perceived by, a minor;

(b) the offense is committed against a person known, or who reasonably should have been known, by the offender to be pregnant;

(c) the offense is committed during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft;

(d) the offense is committed by impeding the victim’s breathing or air flow; or

(e) the offense is committed using physical force or the threatened use of force against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with:

(i) the report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or

(ii) a request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.

A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than three years, or both.

Domestic violence in the second degree is a lesser-included offense of domestic violence in the first degree, as defined in subsection (B), and domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, as defined in Section 16-25-65.

Assault and battery in the second degree pursuant to Section 16-3-600(D) is a lesser-included offense of domestic violence in the second degree as defined in this subsection.

(D) A person commits the offense of domestic violence in the third degree if the person violates subsection (A).

(1) A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 22-3-540, 22-3-545, and 22-3-550, an offense pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may be tried in summary court.

(2) Domestic violence in the third degree is a lesser-included offense of domestic violence in the second degree, as defined in subsection (C), domestic violence in the first degree, as defined in subsection (B), and domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, as defined in Section 16-25-65.

(3) Assault and battery in the third degree pursuant to Section 16-3-600(E) is a lesser-included offense of domestic violence in the third degree as defined in this subsection.

(4) A person who violates this subsection is eligible for pretrial intervention pursuant to Chapter 22, Title 17.

(E) When a person is convicted of a violation of Section 16-25-20(B) or (C) or Section 16-25-65, the circuit court may suspend execution of all or part of the sentence and place the offender on probation, or if a person is convicted of a violation of Section 16-25-20(D), the court may suspend execution of all or part of the sentence, conditioned upon:

(1) the offender’s mandatory completion, to the satisfaction of the court, of a domestic violence intervention program designed to treat batterers in accordance with the provisions of subsection (G);

(2) fulfillment of all the obligations arising under court order pursuant to this section and Section 16-25-65;

(3) other reasonable terms and conditions of probation as the court may determine necessary to ensure the protection of the victim; and

(4) making restitution as the court deems appropriate.

(F) In determining whether or not to suspend the imposition or execution of all or part of a sentence as provided in this section, the court must consider the nature and severity of the offense, the number of times the offender has repeated the offense, and the best interests and safety of the victim.

(G) An offender who participates in a domestic violence intervention program pursuant to this section, shall participate in a program offered through a government agency, nonprofit organization, or private provider selected and approved by the Circuit Solicitor with jurisdiction over the offense or the Attorney General if the offense is prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office. If the offender moves to a different circuit after entering a treatment program selected by the Circuit Solicitor, the Circuit Solicitor for the county in which the offender resides shall have the authority to select and approve the batterer’s treatment program. The offender shall pay a reasonable fee, if required, for participation in the program but no person may be denied participation due to inability to pay. If the offender suffers from a substance abuse problem or mental health concern, the judge may order, or the program may refer, the offender to supplemental treatment coordinated through the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services with the local alcohol and drug treatment authorities pursuant to Section 61-12-20 or the Department of Mental Health or Veterans’ Hospital, respectively. The offender must pay a reasonable fee for participation in the substance abuse treatment or mental health program, if required, but no person may be denied participation due to inability to pay.

(H) A person who violates the terms and conditions of an order of protection issued in this State pursuant to Chapter 4, Title 20, the “Protection from Domestic Abuse Act”, or a valid protection order related to domestic or family violence issued by a court of another state, tribe, or territory is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than thirty days and fined not more than five hundred dollars.

(I) Unless the complaint is voluntarily dismissed or the charge is dropped prior to the scheduled trial date, a person charged with a violation provided in this chapter must appear before a judge for disposition of the case or be tried in the person’s absence.

HISTORY: 1984 Act No. 484, Section 1; 1994 Act No. 519, Section 1; 2003 Act No. 92, Section 3, eff January 1, 2004; 2005 Act No. 166, Section 2, eff January 1, 2006; 2008 Act No. 255, Section 1, eff June 4, 2008; 2015 Act No. 58 (S.3), Pt II, Section 4, eff June 4, 2015.

Effect of Amendment

2015 Act No. 58, Section 4, rewrote (B), deleted former (C), redesignated former (D) through (H) as (C) through (G), and added (H) and (I).

SECTION 16-25-65. Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature; elements; penalty; statutory offense.

(A) A person who violates Section 16-25-20(A) is guilty of the offense of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature when one of the following occurs. The person:

(1) commits the offense under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life and great bodily injury to the victim results;

(2) commits the offense, with or without an accompanying battery and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, and would reasonably cause a person to fear imminent great bodily injury or death; or

(3) violates a protection order and, in the process of violating the order, commits domestic violence in the first degree.

(B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than twenty years.

(C) The provisions of subsection (A) create a statutory offense of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and must not be construed to codify the common law crime of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

(D) Circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) using a deadly weapon;

(2) knowingly and intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a household member by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by obstructing the nose or mouth of a household member and thereby causing stupor or loss of consciousness for any period of time;

(3) committing the offense in the presence of a minor;

(4) committing the offense against a person he knew, or should have known, to be pregnant;

(5) committing the offense during the commission of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft; or

(6) using physical force against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with:

(a) the report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or

(b) a request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.

HISTORY: 1994 Act No. 516, Section 1; 2003 Act No. 92, Section 3, eff January 1, 2004; 2005 Act No. 166, Section 3, eff January 1, 2006; 2015 Act No. 58 (S.3), Pt II, Section 5, eff June 4, 2015.

Editor’s Note

2010 Act No. 273, Section 7.C, provides:

“Wherever in the 1976 Code of Laws reference is made to the common law offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, it means assault and battery with intent to kill, as contained in repealed Section 16-3-620, and, except for references in Section 16-1-60 and Section 17-25-45, wherever in the 1976 Code reference is made to assault and battery with intent to kill, it means attempted murder as defined in Section 16-3-29.”

Effect of Amendment

2015 Act No. 58, Section 5, rewrote (A) and (B); in (C), deleted “criminal” before “domestic violence”; and added (D).

SECTION 16-25-10. Definitions.

As used in this article, the term:

(1) “Deadly weapon” means any pistol, dirk, slingshot, metal knuckles, razor, or other instrument which can be used to inflict deadly force.

(2) “Great bodily injury” means bodily injury which causes a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.

(3) “Household member” means:

(a) a spouse;

(b) a former spouse;

(c) persons who have a child in common; or

(d) a male and female who are cohabiting or formerly have cohabited.

(4) “Moderate bodily injury” means physical injury that involves prolonged loss of consciousness or that causes temporary or moderate disfigurement or temporary loss of the function of a bodily member or organ or injury that requires medical treatment when the treatment requires the use of regional or general anesthesia or injury that results in a fracture or dislocation. Moderate bodily injury does not include one-time treatment and subsequent observation of scratches, cuts, abrasions, bruises, burns, splinters, or any other minor injuries that do not ordinarily require extensive medical care.

(5) “Prior conviction of domestic violence” includes conviction of any crime, in any state, containing among its elements those enumerated in, or substantially similar to those enumerated in, Section 16-25-20(A) that is committed against a household member as defined in item (3) within the ten years prior to the incident date of the current offense.

(6) “Protection order” means any order of protection, restraining order, condition of bond, or any other similar order issued in this State or another state or foreign jurisdiction for the purpose of protecting a household member.

(7) “Firearm” means a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, submachine gun, or an assault rifle which is designed to fire or is capable of firing fixed cartridge ammunition or from which a shot or projectile is discharged by an explosive but does not include an antique firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(16).

HISTORY: 1984 Act No. 484, Section 1; 1994 Act No. 519, Section 1; 2003 Act No. 92, Section 3, eff January 1, 2004; 2005 Act No. 166, Section 1, eff January 1, 2006; 2015 Act No. 58 (S.3), Pt II, Section 2, eff June 4, 2015.

Effect of Amendment

2015 Act No. 58, Section 2, rewrote the section, adding (1), (2), (4), (5), (6), and (7); and in (3), changed the paragraph designators from numbers to letters.