Difference Between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Domestic Violence Charges

The Three Degrees of Criminal Domestic Violence 

In South Carolina, criminal domestic violence (CDV) is defined as, “[Inflicting] 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.” In other words, causing direct physical harm, acting in a way that could reasonably result in harm, and/or threatening to harm a household member. 

What is the Difference Between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Domestic Violence Charges in South Carolina?

Many factors determine what degree of Domestic Violence a defendant can be charged with. The degree’s severity depends on many factors, including the severity of the alleged victim’s injuries or the number of prior convictions the defendant has for domestic violence.

Because of recent changes to South Carolina law, the penalties for CDV convictions have increased in severity. 

Table of Contents

    1. What is Domestic Violence in the 3rd Degree?
    2. What is Domestic Violence in the 2nd Degree?
    3. What is Domestic Violence in the 1st Degree?
    4. What is Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN)?

What is Domestic Violence in the 3rd Degree in South Carolina?

Third Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(D) occurs when the defendant actually inflicted physical harm or injury to a household member or offered or attempted to cause harm or injury (and had the ability to do so), creating fear of imminent peril.

Magistrate/Municipal Court/General Sessions

Misdemeanor

Penalties: 0-90 days and/or $1,000-$2,500 fine.

What is Domestic Violence in the 2nd Degree in South Carolina?

Second Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(C) occurs when the defendant committed CDV and at least one of the following violations:

  • Acted in ways likely to result in moderate bodily injury (MBI)
  • Committed breaking and entering (BE) and has a prior CDV conviction within the past 10 years 
  • Inflicted MBI

A defendant can also be charged with second degree CDV if they committed third degree CDV and one or more of the following actions:

  • Knew/should have known victim pregnant
  • Minor was present or perceived the event
  • Offense was committed by impeding victim’s breathing or airflow
  • Offense was committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft
  • Offense was committed using physical force or threat of such force to block the victim’s access to phone/electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing or interfering with report to law enforcement or request for assistance from emergency medical assistance (PFTBA)
  • Violated a protective order

General Sessions

Misdemeanor

Penalties: 0-3 years and/or $2,500-$5,000

What is Domestic Violence in the 1st Degree in South Carolina?

First Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(C) occurs when the defendant committed CDV and at least one of the following violations:

  • Committed BE and has two or more prior DV convictions within the past 10 years
  • Inflicted great bodily injury (GBl) or actions accomplished by means likely to result in GBI
  • Used firearm while committing BE

A defendant can also be charged with first degree CDV if they committed second degree CDV and one or more of the following actions:

  • Knew/should have known victim pregnant
  • Minor was present or perceived the event
  • Offense was committed by impeding victim’s breathing or air flow
  • Offense was committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft
  • Offense was committed using physical force or threat of such force to block the victim’s access to phone/electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing or interfering with report to law enforcement or request for assistance from emergency medical assistance (PFTBA)
  • Violated a protective order

General Sessions

Felony (violent crime and serious offense)

Penalties: 0-10 years

What is Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN)?

Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) §16-25-65 occurs when the defendant committed CDV along and one or more of the following actions:

  • Offense was committed under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, and great bodily injury (GBI) results 
  • Offense was committed — with or without an accompanying battery — under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life and would reasonably cause a person to fear either GBl or death
  • Violated a protective order and, in the process, committed first degree CDV.

Circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life include, but are not limited to, committing CDV under the following circumstances: 

  • Against a pregnant victim
  • By impeding the 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
  • In the presence of minor
  • During the commission of robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft
  • While using a deadly weapon
  • While using physical force or threat of such force to block the victim’s access to phone/electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing or interfering with report to law enforcement or request for assistance from emergency medical assistance (PFTBA) 

General Sessions

Felony (Violent Crime and Serious Offense)

Penalties: 0-20 years

Contact Carolina Defence Lawyers Today!

If you or someone you love has been charged with Criminal Domestic Violence, you should act now and contact the Carolina Defence Lawyers. Domestic violence charges in South Carolina are a serious matter, and having an experienced defense team on your side will help you make decisions about your case and protect your rights.

Client Reviews

“The Jeffcoat Firm was amazing. They were professional and courteous and an all-around wonderful experience. They did exactly what they told me they were going to do in three months’ time when my other law firm couldn’t get it done in three years and ultimately dropped my case without notice. For any future legal needs, I will absolutely be back to The Jeffcoat firm. Thank you, guys and your team, so much for the wonderful experience and professionalism I was shown in my first ever legal case. You guys rock!”

– Ryan H ., April 13, 2021 (more reviews here)

Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Any result achieved on behalf of a client in one matter does not necessarily indicate that similar results can be obtained for other clients.

 

Jeffcoat Firm logo

Schedule A Free Consultation