Domestic Violence Attorney
Criminal Domestic Violence Attorney In Greenville, SC
Domestic violence charges in South Carolina can include very serious consequences to those charged. The person accused of criminal domestic violence could face stiff financial penalties, could lose the right to carry a firearm, be evicted from his or her apartment, and even be jailed, losing your most important right: your freedom. Given the potentially severe consequences, it is important to learn more about a Greenville criminal domestic violence charge.
What Rights Do You Have?
Those accused of domestic violence also have rights in South Carolina, including the right to a trial by jury, the right to challenge witnesses, and the right to testify (or not) at trial. It’s crucial to understand that perpetrators of domestic violence do not need to prove their innocence; the law exists to require prosecutors to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Those arrested and charged with criminal domestic violence in South Carolina should also understand that they are entitled to be represented by a lawyer at every stage of the process. This is a critical right, as it allows defendants to rely on the years of experience of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Rather than feel alone in a confusing and often scary criminal justice system, a criminal defense attorney understands the process and can effectively advocate on your behalf, standing in your corner when so many others may be in opposition. A skilled South Carolina criminal defense lawyer will step in from the very beginning of the criminal process and ensure that your rights are protected. This is done by thoroughly investigating the facts underlying your charges, challenging the prosecution’s version of events, and exploring possible alternatives to a risky criminal trial, such as a negotiated plea deal.
Can Domestic Violence Victims Drop Charges?
It isn’t uncommon for domestic disturbances to escalate quickly. What began as a small argument may become increasingly loud and hostile and lead to police involvement and even an arrest. Once tempers cool, those involved may have second thoughts about the seriousness of the event, and may even decide to drop any criminal complaint against the perpetrator. In other cases, a victim of domestic violence may be terrified of going forward with a criminal prosecution, fearing this could spark even worse violence. As a result, the victim may ask to drop charges. So what do prosecutors do?
Some police departments and counties in South Carolina handled the issue by implementing what are known as “no drop” policies. A “no drop” policy refers to the inability of victims of criminal domestic violence to drop charges against the perpetrator.
Though these “no drop” policies used to be far more common, today, police departments and prosecutors are mindful that not every domestic violence case deserves to move forward. Prosecutors can and sometimes do dismiss cases if the facts are such that moving ahead is not in the interest of justice.
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How do police decide who to arrest for domestic violence?
In South Carolina, the law is such that officers often feel forced to make an arrest when responding to a domestic disturbance. An arrest is legally required when police officers see evidence of actual physical harm that they believe recently occurred. The problem is that some officers may not be properly trained and mistakenly believe that they must make an arrest each and every time they respond to a domestic disturbance call. Not only is this incorrect, it leads to serious consequences for those who are arrested, even for very minor disputes, because officers believe they have no choice in the matter. So how do police decide which party to arrest in the event of a domestic dispute between two individuals? Police officers are trained to consider a range of factors when determining which party was acting as the primary aggressor. This can include prior complaints or arrests for domestic violence, the relative severity of injuries suffered by the parties, whether one person was acting in self-defense, and whether other family members have information concerning prior incidents of domestic violence.
What Is DHVAN? What if I’m convicted of Domestic Violence?
Though the consequences of a domestic violence conviction are already exceptionally serious, lawmakers in South Carolina have created another category of crime to deal with certain acts of domestic violence. DVHAN refers to domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. This is said to exist when a defendant commits assault or battery on a household member with a deadly weapon or an assault with or without battery that reasonably causes fear of imminent serious injury or death. Deadly weapons are objects that are usually used to inflict injuries. Some common examples include knives and guns. That means that engaging in domestic violence while holding a gun can lead to heightened criminal charges and correspondingly heightened criminal penalties.
What is the punishment for domestic violence?
Someone convicted of committing domestic violence in the first degree will be found guilty of a felony and must be imprisoned for not more than ten years. Someone convicted of committing domestic violence in the second degree will be found guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined not less than 2,500 dollars nor more than 5,000 dollars, or imprisoned for not more than three years, or both. Finally, someone convicted of committing domestic violence in the third degree will be guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined not less than 1,000 dollars nor more than 2,500 dollars or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both. Additionally, those who committed domestic violence in the third degree are also eligible for pretrial intervention in some cases. Finally, those charged with DVHAN can receive between one and 10 years’ imprisonment. DVHAN charges require a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, but a sentence in excess of a year can be suspended by a court, conditional on the defendant completing a domestic abuse treatment program. As an indication of how serious DVHAN charges are taken, you should know that very few criminal offenses in South Carolina carry mandatory prison time. Other examples include charges for murder, armed robbery, or criminal sexual conduct. Beyond the obvious criminal penalties, convictions for criminal domestic violence come with even more painful hidden consequences. These include the existence of a criminal record, increased difficulty in entering certain foreign countries, or remaining in the United States/becoming a U.S. citizen. Those convicted may also lose the ability to possess a concealed weapon permit, as well as to purchase or possess a firearm. Finally, a conviction for such a serious criminal offense can make it difficult to find and secure stable housing, and can play heavily into child custody cases, potentially denying you the right to visit with your children.