1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Unannotated
Updated through the end of the 2002 Session

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Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses

CHAPTER 25.

CRIMINAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

ARTICLE 1.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 16-25-10. "Household member" defined.

As used in this article, "household member" means spouses, former spouses, parents and children, persons related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree, persons who have a child in common, and a male and female who are cohabiting or formerly have cohabited.

SECTION 16-25-20. Acts prohibited.

It is unlawful to: (1) cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member, (2) offer or attempt to cause physical harm or injury to a person's own household member with apparent present ability under circumstances reasonably creating fear of imminent peril.

SECTION 16-25-30. Penalties.

Any person who violates Section 16-25-20 is guilty of the misdemeanor of criminal domestic violence and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.

SECTION 16-25-40. Penalty upon third conviction.

Any person who violates Section 16-25-20 after having previously been convicted of two violations of Section 16-25-20 or two violations of Section 16-25-65 or a violation of Section 16-25-20 and a violation of Section 16-25-65 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than three thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

SECTION 16-25-50. Penalty for violation of order of protection.

A person violating the terms and conditions of an order of protection issued in this State under Chapter 4, Title 20, the "Protection from Domestic Abuse Act", or a valid protection order related to domestic or family violence issued by a court of another state, tribe, or territory is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than thirty days or fined not more than five hundred dollars. A person found guilty of a violation of Section 16-25-20 and this section may not be sentenced under both sections for the same offense.

SECTION 16-25-60. Person charged to appear before judge; suspension of sentence; conditions.

(A) Unless the complaint is voluntarily dismissed or the charge is dropped prior to the scheduled trial date, a person charged with a violation provided in this chapter shall appear before a judge for disposition of the case.

(B) When a person is convicted of a violation of Section 16-25-20 or 16-25-50, the court may suspend the imposition or execution of all or part of the sentence conditioned upon the offender completing, to the satisfaction of the court, a program designed to treat battering spouses where available or in other appropriate psychiatric or therapeutic treatment or counseling.

(C) When a person is convicted of a violation of Section 16-25-40 or 16-25-65, the court may suspend execution of all or part of the sentence and place the offender on probation, conditioned upon:

(1) the offender completing, to the satisfaction of the court, a program designed to treat battering spouses where available or in other appropriate psychiatric or therapeutic treatment or counseling;

(2) fulfillment of all the obligations arising under court order pursuant to Section 20-4-60 and this section;

(3) other reasonable terms and conditions of probation as the court may determine necessary to ensure the protection of the victim.

(D) In determining whether or not to suspend the imposition or execution of all or part of a sentence as provided in this section, the court must consider the nature and severity of the offense, the number of times the offender has repeated the offense, and the best interests and safety of the victim. A court may require an offender to pay for participation in a program or treatment or counseling as an appropriate term or condition for suspending the imposition or execution of all or part of a sentence.

SECTION 16-25-65. Statutory offense of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

(A) The elements of the common law crime of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature are incorporated in and made a part of the offense of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature when a person violates the provisions of Section 16-25-20 and the elements of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature are present.

(B) A person who commits the crime of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than three thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(C) The provisions of this section create a statutory offense of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and must not be construed to codify the common law crime of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

SECTION 16-25-70. Warrantless arrest or search; admissibility of evidence.

(A) A law enforcement officer may arrest, with or without a warrant, a person at the person's place of residence or elsewhere if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has freshly committed a misdemeanor or felony under the provisions of Section 16-25-20, 16-25-50, or 16-25-65 even if the act did not take place in the presence of the officer. The officer may, if necessary, verify the existence of an order of protection by telephone or radio communication with the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(B) A law enforcement officer must arrest, with or without a warrant, a person at the person's place of residence or elsewhere if physical manifestations of injury to the alleged victim are present and the officer has probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has freshly committed a misdemeanor or felony under the provisions of Section 16-25-20, 16-25-50, or 16-25-65 even if the act did not take place in the presence of the officer. The officer may, if necessary, verify the existence of an order of protection by telephone or radio communication with the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(C) In effecting a warrantless arrest under this section, a law enforcement officer may enter the residence of the person to be arrested in order to effect the arrest where the officer has probable cause to believe that the action is reasonably necessary to prevent physical harm or danger to a family or household member.

(D) If a law enforcement officer receives conflicting complaints of domestic or family violence from two or more household members involving an incident of domestic or family violence, the officer must evaluate each complaint separately to determine who was the primary aggressor. If the officer determines that one person was the primary physical aggressor, the officer must not arrest the other person accused of having committed domestic or family violence. In determining whether a person is the primary aggressor, the officer must consider:

(1) prior complaints of domestic or family violence;

(2) the relative severity of the injuries inflicted on each person taking into account injuries alleged which may not be easily visible at the time of the investigation;

(3) the likelihood of future injury to each person;

(4) whether one of the persons acted in self-defense; and

(5) household member accounts regarding the history of domestic violence.

(E) A law enforcement officer must not threaten, suggest, or otherwise indicate the possible arrest of all parties to discourage a party's requests for intervention by law enforcement.

(F) A law enforcement officer who arrests two or more persons for a crime involving domestic or family violence must include the grounds for arresting both parties in the written incident report and must include a statement in the report that the officer attempted to determine which party was the primary aggressor pursuant to this section and was unable to make a determination based upon the evidence available at the time of the arrest.

(G) When two or more household members are charged with a crime involving domestic or family violence arising from the same incident and the court finds that one party was the primary aggressor pursuant to this section, the court, if appropriate, may dismiss charges against the other party or parties.

(H) Evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search administered pursuant to a complaint filed under this article is admissible in a court of law:

(1) if it is found:

(a) in plain view of a law enforcement officer in a room in which the officer is interviewing, detaining, or pursuing a suspect; or

(b) pursuant to a search incident to a lawful arrest for a violation of this article or for a violation of Chapter 3, Title 16; or

(2) if it is evidence of a violation of this article.

An officer may arrest and file criminal charges against a suspect for any offense that arises from evidence discovered pursuant to this section.

Unless otherwise provided for in this section, no evidence of a crime found as a result of a warrantless search administered pursuant to a complaint filed under this article is admissible in any court of law.

(I) In addition to the protections granted to the law enforcement officer and law enforcement agency under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, a law enforcement officer is not liable for an act, omission, or exercise of discretion under this section unless the act, omission, or exercise of discretion constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, wilfulness, or wantonness.

SECTION 16-25-80. Preservation of court and police powers; applicability of other laws.

Nothing in this article affects or limits the powers of any court to enforce its own orders by civil or criminal contempt or the powers of the police to make other lawful arrests.

Nothing in this article may be construed to repeal, replace, or preclude application of any other provisions of law pertaining to assault, assault and battery, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, or other criminal offenses.

SECTION 16-25-90. Conditions for early parole for certain offender victims of spousal abuse.

Notwithstanding any provision of Chapters 13 and 21 of Title 24, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, an inmate who was convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, an offense against a household member shall be eligible for parole after serving one-fourth of his prison term when the inmate at the time he pled guilty to, nolo contendere to, or was convicted of an offense against the household member, or in post-conviction proceedings pertaining to the plea or conviction, presented credible evidence of a history of criminal domestic violence, as provided in Section 16-25-20, suffered at the hands of the household member. This section shall not affect the provisions of Section 17-27-45.





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