One question that is frequently asked by those curious about domestic violence cases is what is the statute of limitations on a CDV charge.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets forth a specific time limit on how long the initiation of a legal action can be delayed.
The simple answer to this question is that there is no statute of limitations for any criminal charge, including CDV, in South Carolina. This means that technically someone could be arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for CDV offense that occurred five, ten or even fifty years ago.
Some people ask this question though not concerned with the criminal aspect, but wondering how long someone would have to file a civil lawsuit (seeking money damages) based on an alleged CDV incident. That limitation is generally three years for cases involving batteries (actual physical contact) or assault (apprehension of imminent physical contact).
Others are more interested in using an older CDV allegation to support a claim in Family Court. Again there is no statute of limitations, but older claims may be barred by other legal principles, such as laches, or if admitted into evidence may only be given minimal consideration by the judge.
Although there is no statute of limitations on the criminal charge of CDV, a delay in reporting (even a few days or hours) can be used as a defense in trial. When trying a CDV case with a delay in reporting a good strategy can be to ask the judge to instruct the jury that if they find that the alleged victim unreasonablty delayed reporting, that they can draw an inference that no crime ever occured.