Do police need a warrant to arrest for CDV?

For many years it was standard practice for law enforcement to write CDV charges on traffic tickets. Then last year the South Carolina Court of Appeals held in a case entitled State vs. Ramsey that a traffic ticket was not sufficient to commence judicial proceedings in a CDV case.

Immediate post-Ramsey the Courts were holding hearings to convert CDV charges written on traffic tickets into ones based on warrants. Dozens of defendants at a time would be summoned to Court for a hearing in which they were advised that the ticket was being dismissed and then simultaneously be served with a warrant in open court. Defendants who complied with this request were allowed to continue on bond. Defendants who failed to cooperate were re-arrested and run back through the jail.

Notable is that Ramsey is the same case that the Supreme Court remanded back for trial after a judge initially dismissed for a lack of evidence. Read our previous blog post on that opinion.

The South Carolina Legislature decided to over-turn the Court's ruling and modify the traffic ticket statutes to allow for CDV arrests in situations where the offense is "freshly committed":

§ 56-7-15. Uniform traffic ticket

(A)

The uniform traffic ticket, established pursuant to the provisions of Section 56-7-10, may be used by law enforcement officers to arrest a person for an offense that has been freshly committed or is committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer if the punishment is within the jurisdiction of magistrates court and municipal court. A law enforcement agency processing an arrest made pursuant to this section must furnish the information to the State Law Enforcement Division as required in Chapter 3, Title 23.

(B)

An officer who effects an arrest, by use of a uniform traffic ticket, for a violation of Chapter 25, Title 16 or Section 16-13-110 shall complete and file an incident report immediately following the issuance of the uniform traffic ticket.

The law doesn't define "freshly committed" so we expect to see people arrested by officers for CDV based on incidents alleged to have occurred anywhere from a few minutes to a few days ago. In fact they went as far as allowing 2nd offense criminal domestic violence charges to be written on traffic tickets, even though these offenses can carry up to one year in prison. Based on the changes to the law, as it stands now CDV 1st and 2nd offense charges CAN be written on a traffic ticket.

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