Domestic violence can arise between confrontations with a spouse, live-in partner, or co-parent. According to South Carolina state law, “[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.” This means, causing intended physical harm to another person, or acting in a way any reasonable person would believe to result in harm constitutes criminal domestic violence.

What Are the Degrees of Criminal Domestic Violence in South Carolina?

According to South Carolina state law, criminal domestic violence is broken into three degrees to separate the severity of situations and categorize them as needed.

Third Degree – Third-degree criminal domestic violence occurs when the guilty party imposed harm or injury to the victim or acted in a way that would lead any reasonable person to believe that they were about to be harmed. Additionally, someone can be charged with third-degree criminal domestic violence if they created a fear of imminent danger or peril.

Second Degree – A second-degree criminal domestic violence charge holds a bit more weight than the third degree. Criminal domestic violence in the second degree means the guilty party inflicted moderate bodily injury on their victim or acted in a way that caused the victim to believe moderate bodily harm was imminent. A third-degree charge can also be bumped to the second degree if the domestic violence was carried out after breaking and entering, an attempted robbery, or other similar mitigating circumstances.

First Degree – First-degree criminal domestic violence is the most serious of all three charges. If you are charged with criminal domestic violence in the first degree, that means you have inflicted or attempted to inflict great bodily harm on a victim and acted in such a way that the victim would have reason to believe their life was in danger. There are other factors that contribute to a first-degree criminal domestic violence charge: if a minor was present and witnessed the event you will likely be charged in the first degree. If the violence was committed during a robbery or breaking and entering situation, the first-degree charge is possible. First-degree criminal domestic violence charges are reserved for the most extreme cases, for example, when a victim is pregnant and the perpetrator knowingly causes harm anyway.

How Can a Domestic Violence Attorney Help?

The Leddy Law Firm, LLC defends those accused of criminal domestic violence in South Carolina. If you’re facing a criminal domestic charge in the first, second, or third-degree, contact The Leddy Law Firm, LLC as soon as possible for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case. Micah Leddy has experience with domestic violence cases of every degree, from third-degree domestic violence to domestic violence of a high aggravated nature. These cases come with serious legal consequences, and should never be tackled alone. An experienced domestic violence attorney will help you better understand the degrees of the charge and work alongside you to fight for the best possible outcome for your case.