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

At the David W. Martin Law Group, our South Carolina domestic violence defense attorneys know that our clients are facing different levels of criminal charges when they are accused of threatening to harm, acting in a way that could reasonably result in harm, or causing direct physical harm to a household member.

In South Carolina, individuals can be charged, in order of severity, with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, domestic violence 1st degree, 2nd degree domestic violence, and domestic violence 3rd degree. Here, we explain the differences in each, and how we can help pursue the best outcome for your unique case.

What is a Third-Degree Domestic Violence Charge in South Carolina?

Third-degree domestic violence occurs when the accused attempts to cause harm or injury — and could do so — creating fear of imminent peril, or actually inflicts physical harm or personal injury to a household member.

What is Domestic Violence in the Second Degree in South Carolina?

Second-degree domestic violence occurs when an individual acts in ways that caused or were likely to result in moderate bodily injury, occurred while committing breaking and entering, or if the person has a prior domestic violence conviction within the past 10 years.

Also, in South Carolina, third-degree domestic violence increases to charges of second-degree domestic violence when:

  • A minor was present or perceived the event;
  • The accused knew or should have known the victim was pregnant;
  • The accused impeded the victim’s breathing or airflow;
  • The offense was committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft;
  • The offense was committed using physical force or threat of such force to keep the abused person from seeking help from the police or emergency medical personnel; or
  • The accused violated a protective order.

What is Domestic Violence in the First Degree in South Carolina?

Domestic violence in the first degree involves the offender committing breaking and entering during the assault; the person having two or more prior domestic violence convictions within the past ten years; when he or she is likely to, or actually inflicts great bodily injury to a household member; or when he or she uses a firearm while committing breaking and entering.

Also, in South Carolina, second-degree domestic violence increases to charges of first-degree domestic violence when:

  • A minor was present or perceived the event;
  • The accused knew or should have known the victim was pregnant;
  • The accused impeded the victim’s breathing or airflow;
  • The offense was committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft;
  • The offense was committed using physical force or threat of such force to keep the abused person from seeking help from the police or emergency medical personnel; or
  • The accused violated a protective order.

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

In South Carolina, Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN) occurs when the accused committed domestic violence under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life and causes a household member to reasonably fear the attack will result in great bodily injury or death, or when the attack does result in great bodily injury or death.  Examples of circumstances about the case that would be considered manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life include:

  • A pregnant victim.
  • In the presence of a minor.
  • By impeding the victim’s normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to the throat or neck, or by obstructing the nose or mouth, causing the loss of consciousness for any period.
  • The offense was committed during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or theft.
  • While using a deadly weapon.
  • The offense was committed using physical force or threat of such force to keep the abused person from seeking help from the police or emergency medical personnel.

An individual may also be charged with DVHAN if he or she has violated a protective order and, in the process, committed first-degree domestic violence.

Have You Been Charged with First, Second, or Third-Degree Domestic Violence in South Carolina?

If you have been charged with first, second, third degree, or Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature in South Carolina, you are going to need help from a legal professional who can pursue the best outcome for your case. Contact our South Carolina domestic violence criminal defense attorneys by calling (803) 548-2468 or contact us online to ensure your legal rights and best interests come first.

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