Williams and Walsh - Criminal Defense Overview

Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) and Criminal Domestic Violence of a High & Aggravated Nature (CDVHAN)

It is important to understand the basics of Criminal Domestic Violence, or CDV, law in South Carolina. Domestic violence in South Carolina is defined as a physical assault, attempted physical assault or threat of a physical assault against a household member. Physical assault in this context means an unwanted or rude touching. There is no requirement of actual harm or injury. A household member considered is a spouse, former spouse, someone you have a child in common with or someone of the opposite sex you now or formally have lived with.

Although CDV is a misdemeanor prosecutable in the municipal and magistrate courts of South Carolina, a CDV conviction can have very serious and lasting consequences.

On the other hand, Criminal Domestic Violence of a High & Aggravated Nature, or CDVHAN, is a felony offense in South Carolina. Criminal Domestic Violence of a High Aggravated Nature CDVHAN is prosecuted in General Sessions court. Anyone convicted of CDVHAN will face a mandatory minimum of one year up to a maximum of ten years in prison. The one-year minimum sentence cannot be suspended by the court, which means that if you plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial, it is a mandatory prison term.

The main difference between CDV and CDVHAN is that a CDVHAN must also have an aggravating factor, such as an allegation of a weapon, serious bodily harm or an assault which would cause someone to fear serious harm or death.

Many people think that a CDV or CDVHAN charge will simply “disappear” if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute the case or come to court. This is a dangerous assumption. The State decides whether or not to prosecute the case, with or without a reluctant victim. The victim’s testimony is not absolutely required to sustain a conviction. Often, the State will used 911 recordings and the testimony of the responding officers, as well as any photographs taken by law enforcement, to prove an injury in the absence of a victim.

Many people also assume that a physical injury must be present for a CDV to be charged. This is yet another dangerous assumption: a threat or “offer or attempt” to cause injury is sufficient to convict.

If you find yourself charged with CDV or CDVHAN, please contact us today. These are serious charges and we have the experience and resources to properly prepare your defense.