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Here are the top five pitfalls to be avoided for those just arrested for CDV:
1. Do not try to contact the police officer who arrested you.
Attempting to contact the arresting officer is always a bad idea. Anything you say can and will be used against you later in Court. The officer will also have exceptionally limited authority once the arrest has been made due to the "no drop" policy and the fact that most all jurisdictions have dedicated CDV prosecutors. Many officers view contact by a defendant they have arrested to be bothersome. In most all cases direct contact with the officer may lead to less favorable rather than more favorable treatment in Court.
2. Do not violate the "no contact" bond order.
If you are found to have violated the Bond Court's "no contact" order it can subject you to up to thirty days in jail for a CDV 1st, and even more time on subsequent or CDVHAN cases. This is on top of whatever jail sentence you could receive for the domestic violence charge. Additionally if you have been found to be in contempt of the Court's order it may have substantial negative consequences on how your case is ultimately resolved.
3. Do not call the CDV Court and ask for legal advice.
The telephone operator at the CDV Court is not an attorney, and is certainly not your attorney. Further the Court staff is not permitted to give legal or other advice. In some cases when you call the Court the subject of the call will be noted inside of the file and shared later with the prosecutor and the judge.
4. Do not assume your case will go away.
Every day people with no criminal record are arrested for CDV. People are arrested based on single, isolated incidents out of years or decades of a relationship. People are arrested even though they were the one who originally called 911. People are arrested when no actual physical assault took place. People are arrested even with the alleged victim does not want to press charges.
Notwithstanding all of the above, CDV cases are different than many other criminal charges based on the fact that there is a "no drop" policy in place prohibiting charges from being dropped. The fact that you have never been in trouble before, or that the alleged victim wants the charges dropped are not legal defenses to the charges. Once a CDV arrest is made the justice system process must run its course. South Carolina law enforcement, prosecutors and judges take these cases very seriously and they do not just go away.
5. Do not report to CDV Court without at least consulting with an attorney.
The Court date written on your ticket (for those charged with CDV 1st) will be the date that you can appear in front of a judge and resolve your case. In fact in most areas if you appear at that date you will find yourself in a situation with the judge on the bench taking guilty pleas or providing people with traffic court style bench trials. The prosecutor and police officers will have several cases, and little time to talk to you about your individual situation. Further no one there will be able to give you legal advice, including advising you on how the judge may sentence you, your rights to a contested trial or the availability of a diversion program (that would guarantee a dismissal of the CDV charge and an expungement of your arrest record). Only by consulting with an attorney before your Court date can you be sure that you understand your rights.