Effective June 4, 2015, South Carolina’s Domestic Violence Act made sweeping changes to the Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) law, extending its reach and intensifying its penalties.

The act created degrees of CDV. Basic CDV is now CDV in the third degree, but the new law increases the potential jail sentence from 30 days to 90 days. In addition, judges now have the option to sentence offenders to both a jail term and a fine ranging from $1,000 up to $2,500. Before, the judge had to choose one or the other.

These are the basics of the new CDV charges:

Domestic Violence in the First Degree

This is a felony carrying up to 10 years in prison. You can be convicted of it if you commit criminal domestic violence where certain special circumstances apply, including:

  • Great injury occurs, or you did it in a way likely to result in great injury. “Great injury” is a legal term with a specific definition. A sharp lawyer can use it artfully to convince a solicitor or jury your case doesn’t satisfy the requirements, potentially leading to a lesser charge or a plea bargain you can live with.
  • You have two or more convictions for CDV in the prior 10 years.
  • You used a gun.

Domestic Violence in the Second Degree

This is a misdemeanor for which you can be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned up to three years. You can be convicted of it when you commit CDV and:

  • Moderate injury occurs, or you did it in a way likely to result in moderate injury. Like “great injury,” in the right circumstances a skilled lawyer can convince a jury or solicitor the State didn’t prove your case met that definition even if you’re guilty, leading to a lesser charge.
  • You have one conviction for Criminal Domestic Violence in the prior 10 years.

Enhancement Of Lesser Charges

It’s important to know that CDV second degree and CDV third degree can be upgraded to higher charges under certain circumstances.

It’s a new day in South Carolina. It just got easier to be charged with Criminal Domestic Violence and the penalties just got a lot tougher. With the stakes this high and the public so vengeful about domestic violence, you’re already behind the eight ball when you got charged. You need an advocate who’s not afraid to stand up for you and promote your innocence by telling your side of the story.

But it's not all doom and gloom: an experienced attorney might be able to help you take advantage of a new way to get charges dismissed and taken off your record, even if you're guilty.

If you need a voice, feel free to start a live chat for more information on how we can speak up for you.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.