Professional Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Experienced representation for domestic violence charges in Columbia & Charleston
As you likely already know, domestic violence allegations have serious consequences for your current life and your future. A domestic violence conviction brings the possibility of fines, jail, probation, and the loss of your right to own firearms. And, if you’re going through a divorce, you could lose the right to see your children. With all of this at stake, if you’re accused of domestic violence, you need a compassionate and skilled defense attorney on your side.
At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. in Columbia, we understand there’s always much more to the story than what the charges against you purport. We look past the allegations and view every client as a person and a human being. Our job is to work tirelessly on your behalf to dispel the prejudices that often impact these cases — and to find strong grounds for pursuing a favorable outcome.
Attorney Hough approaches domestic violence cases from the perspective of his experience as a former prosecutor. His thorough understanding of state law gives him the know-how to craft a strategic defense on your behalf, and his more than 25 years of legal work gives him a local reputation as an attorney who knows how to get things done. Call our offices today to set up a consultation.
“Remember, an arrest is not a conviction.” - Attorney Hough
What are domestic violence charges, exactly?
Prosecutors take domestic crimes very seriously and separate them from assault and battery. In fact, there is an entire section on domestic violence in the state criminal code. Domestic violence crimes are laid out under South Carolina Code § 16-25 and must meet these elements in order for you to be charged and convicted according to law:
- An individual caused physical harm or injury to a household member, or
- An individual offered or threatened to cause physical harm or injury to a household member, with the present ability to follow through, that reasonably created a fear of imminent peril
Also, domestic violence charges can be either in the first, second, or third degree, or domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature (DVHAN). The charges levied against you can depend on the severity of the accusations and whether or not you have a previous conviction for a domestic violence offense. The degrees and possible penalties for a domestic violence conviction are as follows.
Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature
DVHAN is a felony crime. An individual can be charged with DVHAN if he or she causes, threatens, or attempts to cause physical harm to a household member with the following factors:
- Commits the offense under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” and great bodily injury to the victim results
- Commits the offense under circumstances “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” and reasonably causes the victim to fear imminent injury or death
- Violates a protective order and, in the process, commits domestic violence in the first degree
A conviction of DVHAN can mean up to 20 years in jail.
First-degree domestic violence
Domestic violence (DV) in the first degree is also a felony, and an individual can be charged if he or she causes, threatens, or attempts to cause physical harm to a household member with the following factors:
- Great bodily injury to the victim results or could have resulted
- The individual was violating a protective order while committing second-degree DV
- The individual had two or more prior domestic violence convictions in the past 10 years
- The individual used a firearm while committing a DV offense
- The DV was committed in front of a minor
- The victim was pregnant
- The offense was committed during a theft or kidnapping
- The individual prevented the victim from accessing a phone or computer to call for help
A conviction for first-degree domestic violence can result in up to 10 years in jail.
Second-degree domestic violence
Domestic violence in the second degree is quite similar to first-degree DV, but the threshold is slightly lower. Instead of “great bodily injury,” second-degree DV involves “moderate bodily injury.” An individual can also be charged with DV in the second degree if he or she was violating a protection order while committing third-degree domestic violence.
Second-degree domestic violence is a misdemeanor and a conviction carries up to three years in jail.
Third-degree domestic violence
These charges are the least severe of DV allegations, but are still serious. An individual can be arrested for domestic violence in the third degree for causing, threatening, or attempting to cause harm to a household member. A conviction for third-degree DV can result in up to 90 days in jail.
However, if you don’t have a prior record, you may be eligible for pretrial intervention and, if successfully completed, your charges can be dismissed and expunged. You also may be eligible to complete a domestic violence intervention program, which can help you avoid serving any jail time. Your domestic violence defense attorney can explain more about having your charges lessened or dismissed.
What is a “household member” regarding domestic violence?
When domestic violence charges are involved, the allegations must be between household members. State law defines “household members” as spouses, former spouses, people who have a child in common, or persons who are cohabitating or have formerly cohabitated.
Will I lose my right to own a firearm if convicted of domestic violence?
Even the least serious DV charges and conviction can prohibit you from owning a gun or having a concealed weapons permit (CWP) forever under both state and federal domestic violence and gun control laws. This is why Attorney Hough dedicates himself to your defense, working to protect your constitutional rights and keep your criminal record spotless.
What kind of crime is homicide by child abuse?
Homicide by child abuse is a crime that’s separated out from domestic violence and homicide, yet still related to both. South Carolina Code § 16-3-85 defines this offense as causing “the death of a child under the age of 11 while committing child abuse or neglect, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.” An individual can also be charged with homicide by child abuse for aiding and abetting another person in abuse or neglect that leads to the death of a child.
Homicide by child abuse is a felony and a conviction can result in up to 10 years to life in prison, depending on whether the accused has a past history of abuse or neglect, and any aggravating factors.
The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A. also aggressively defends clients against other criminal charges, including assault, arson, kidnapping, and charges against college students. We also handle drunk driving defense.
Can an alleged victim drop domestic violence charges against me?
In a domestic violence case, a victim can’t really “drop a case.” They may fill out a form requesting that the charges be dropped, but the state has the authority to prosecute the case – not the victim. If an individual reaches out and indicates that he or she would like the charges dropped, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. However, if the victim refuses to participate in prosecuting the case, the courts will have a more difficult time proving the charges.
We understand that you may be embarrassed or remorseful if you’re facing domestic violence charges and be tempted to handle the situation on your own. However, there’s a lot at stake with a criminal conviction on your record. Your freedom and rights are on the line and we can help protect them by crafting the strongest defense possible.
Skilled and compassionate domestic violence defense
Domestic violence charges can turn your life upside down in more ways than one. Your reputation and employment opportunities may suffer. If you are not a U.S. citizen, your immigration status could be in jeopardy. And a conviction will impact your ability to possess firearms — a significant consequence for hunters and military service members. At The Law Offices of A. Randolph Hough, P.A., we will handle the legwork of navigating the complexities of the justice system. To schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Columbia or Charleston, please call 803-771-4119 or fill out our contact form.