Criminal domestic violence (CDV) laws in South Carolina have recently changed. These changes, which impact alleged incidents that have occurred on June 4, 2015 or later, affect many different things including court procedures, punishments, jurisdictions and rules about restraining orders.

If you’ve been charged with CDV, you need a qualified attorney like Timothy Kulp to stand by your side. You need someone who will help you understand changes to the law that may affect you or your case and work with you achieve the best possible outcome.

At Kulp Law Firm, we’ve worked on hundreds of cases just like yours. We know that you have many questions right now. Rest assured that your attorney will be there to answer all of them. We’ve even answered a few of the most common ones below.

What is criminal domestic violence (CDV)?

CDV, now known as simply DV under the new law, means causing or threatening to cause immediate harm to a domestic partner. It can also mean intimidating him or her such that the victim is understandably afraid of physical harm. CDV laws apply to people who live or have lived together, are or have been married to one another and/or have a child together.

What are the consequences of a CDV conviction?

How severe the consequences are depends on whether CDV is considered a 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree offense, based on the severity of the violence.

1st Degree:

A 1st-degree CDV conviction is serious. It’s a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

2nd Degree:

This is a misdemeanor, with up to three years and/or $2,500-5,000 in fines possible.

3rd Degree:

This misdemeanor may lead to up to 90 days in prison and/or fines between $1,000 and $2,500.

What if I had a previous conviction under the old law?

The new laws only apply to incidents alleged to have occurred June 4, 2015 or later. The old laws still apply to previous charges.

When does domestic violence become a serious offense?

A 1st-degree CDV is now considered a felony and is therefore a serious offense. The same goes for CDVHAN (see below).

How does a CDV charge work?

Whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on several factors, including

  • Whether this is your first, second or third CDV conviction in the last 10 years,
  • How badly the victim is harmed,
  • Whether the violence is alleged to have happened along with another crime, such as kidnapping or armed robbery.

Can a CDV charge be dropped?

Possibly. Under certain circumstances the prosecutor or the court, if appropriate may dismiss the charges. It’s a common misconception that the victim can drop the charges. The victim may request that charges be dropped but ultimately it’s up to the prosecutor or the court.

What’s the difference between CDV and CDVHAN?

CDVHAN (Criminal Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature), simply known as DVHAN under the new law, is defined as CDV with additional aggravating factors such as:

  • The presence of a weapon,
  • Serious bodily injury or
  • Significant difference in height and/or weight between you and the alleged victim.

Are domestic violence charges a misdemeanor?

Sometimes. Under the new law, both a 2nd and 3rd-degree domestic charge are still considered a misdemeanor in South Carolina.

When does CDV become a felony?

Under the new law, DVHAN and 1st-degree domestic violence charges are felonies.

What if I violated a protection order?

Unfortunately, the court responsible for setting your bond is required to count a violated protection order as a serious strike against you. Your bond could also be revoked.

Does a CDV conviction affect child custody?

It can. If children were present during the alleged CDV, law enforcement may contact the Department of Social Services (DSS) for investigation. They may open a case against you if agents believe you exposed children to domestic violence or endangered them.

Does a CDV charge affect employment?

Possibly. If you to fail an employer’s criminal background check due to a conviction, the employer may choose not to hire you.

Will a CDV charge disqualify a person from the military?

It could. If you’re convicted, the military may bar you from service.

Can a CDV conviction be expunged?

Yes. A first offense conviction for a 3rd-degree CDV is eligible after five years as long as you have no other conviction during that period. Other CDV convictions aren’t eligible.

Can I own/carry a firearm if I’m convicted of CDV?

In almost every situation you may not possess firearms or ammunition after a CDV, or DV conviction. Even a misdemeanor. Furthermore, you may not possess a firearm if:

  • You’ve had an out-of-state CDV felony conviction.
  • You have an out-of-state conviction for the equivalent of a 2nd-degree CDV and the court determined that you caused at least moderate bodily injury.
  • Your sentencing for a 2nd or 3rd-degree CDV charge (or for a conviction in another state containing the elements of 2nd or 3rd-degree CDV) ordered you not to.
  • Family court or another state has issued a protection order and said you can’t possess a firearm.

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