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The Importance of Seeking Legal Help Early on in Domestic Violence Cases in South Carolina

The Importance of Seeking Legal Help Early on in Domestic Violence Cases in South Carolina

Domestic violence is a serious criminal charge that affects many individuals and families in South Carolina. As a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience in domestic violence cases, it is crucial to stress the importance of seeking legal help as early as possible.

When dealing with domestic violence, time is of the essence. The longer you wait to seek legal help, the more difficult it can be to build a strong defense and protect yourself and your loved ones. This is especially true if your case is a DV 3rd where it may be scheduled very quickly for court, or a more serious DV 2nd or 1st degree pending in General Sessions where even 1st-time offenders are facing a hefty sentence. 

By seeking legal help early on, you can better understand your rights and options under South Carolina law. A lot of people come to us after they've waited weeks or months after an arrest. They expected the charges to just be dropped when their partner requested, or just because they don't think they deserve to be arrested. 

Unfortunately, this isn't how domestic violence prosecutions work in South Carolina. In fact, almost everyone considered a "victim" of domestic violence wants to see the charges dropped. As a result, the court and prosecutors have developed specific rules to continue with the prosecution. The best example of this is "no drop" rules, where the police or prosecutor aren't allowed to dismiss cases simply based on the alleged victim's request. 

Sometimes the worst that happens when people delay getting legal help is it just drags the case out. Other times though it results in unnecessary convictions or an increased sentence. We recommend that everyone arrested for domestic violence in South Carolina consult with an attorney as soon as possible, and definitely before their first court date. Doing so can help you:

  • Review any bond conditions and advise you on petitioning to modify them as necessary. This can help you avoid rearrest for going back home, or having contact with your partner. 
  • Notify the court that your case is contested (this can change the type of court date you have next so you're not expected to immediately plead guilty or face a summary trial). 
  • Obtain copies of the police reports, witness statements, body cam footage, 911 call, or other information needed to evaluate your case.
  • Prepare the correct strategy and approach for your situation to help you avoid a false or unnecessary criminal conviction

About James R. Snell, Jr.

James Snell has been a practicing criminal defense attorney since 2004. He is the author of the book Challenging CDV, now it its third edition. This is the book written on South Carolina criminal domestic violence law, and the available defense strategies and procedures. Anyone facing a criminal charge is invited to contact his office for a free, no-obligation consultation. Initial appointments are set in his downtown Lexington office. 


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