New Domestic Violence Laws In South Carolina

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. 

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

  1. Third Degree
  2. Second Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(C)
  3. First Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(B)
  4. Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) §16-25-65

Third Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(D)

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

Misdemeanor

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

Second Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(C)

In addition to committing CDV, the defendant also committed 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 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

Misdemeanor

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

First Degree Domestic Violence §16-25-20(B)

In addition to committing CDV, the defendant also committed 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

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

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