In a recent decision, the South Carolina Court of Appeals has issued a ruling requiring that CDV 1st cases be prosecuted on the basis of an arrest warrant not a uniform traffic ticket. The opinion, available here, held that:
Section 56-7-15(A) does not authorize the use of a uniform traffic ticket to commence judicial proceedings in magistrate court unless the offense charged was "committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer."
What this decision means is that in order for a pending criminal domestic violence case to proceed to trial at either the Magistrate or Municipal Court level (this includes any designated CDV Court), the police will be required to obtain an arrest warrant. Cases in which only a traffic ticket was issued will have to be converted to an arrest warrant in order to allow the case to be prosecuted.
In Lexington County the CDV prosecutor is working with local Magistrate Courts to provide "roll call" days where all CDV defendants charged by a traffic ticket must appear to have the arrest warrant served on them. Under this procedure the defendant is brought into Court, read the warrant, and then allowed to leave. Defendants who fail to report as requested will face re-arrest, and a return trip to jail along with the expense of a new bond.
For new CDV arrests going forward the police still may be able to take someone into custody pending the issuance of the arrest warrant. They will then have to wait for a judge to issue the warrant prior to appearing in bond court. This could cause some delays in some circumstances, especially in smaller counties or in situations where an arrest is made on a weekend or late at night.
This new case does not impact existing cases prosecuted in General Sessions - to include 2nd or 3rd offense CDV or CDVHAN. It also does not result in an automatic dismissal of CDV charges brought after a traffic ticket.