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What is a Household Member?

What is a Household Member?

Under South Carolina law in order for someone to be arrested or prosecuted for Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) it is necessary that the alleged victim be a household member.

As defined by South Carolina law a household member is a:

  • Spouse
  • Former spous
  • Male and female who currently live together or have formerly lived together (cohabitate
  • Persons who have a child together

Not all dating, sexual or boyfriend\girlfriend relationships meet the legal definition of household member. Cohabitation has been defined as "[t]he fact or state of living together, especially as partners in life, usually with the suggestion of sexual relations." Black's Law Dictionary 7th ed. at 254.

Unless the household member status exists between the defendant and the alleged victim there is no CDV violation. Instead there may be an assault (misdemeanor or felony) or no crime at all. There are times when people are arrested for CDV and have this as an available defense. Some examples would include:

  • A couple who is only casually dating
  • When he police arrive late at night or early in the morning and assume that the couple is cohabiting
  • Where the defendant or alleged victim are only occasionally spending the night with each other and still maintain separate legal residences
  • Where a paternity test can demonstrate no children in common
  • Where a female alleged victim is pregnant, but has not yet given birth to the defendant's child

It is important to review all CDV cases to determine if a household member status exists or whether or not one can be proven in Court. This is an important part of an overall defense strategy. If you have questions regarding a CDV case please contact our office at 1-888-301-6004 to schedule a consultation with James Snell.


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