False Charges Are Very Common
In South Carolina, domestic violence is part of a criminal charge referred to as “family violence.” Under the South Carolina criminal code, family violence is an assault against a member of the accused’s household. This can be a spouse, child, or other individual who lives in the home.
Although family violence is a serious and very real crime, this area of law is also rife with false allegations. When police are called to the scene of a domestic disturbance, they often arrest first and ask questions later. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to accuse their partner of domestic violence to gain an advantage in a contested divorce or custody case. Because the law makes it easy to bring these claims with very little evidence, men are especially vulnerable to unfair accusations.
If you are wrongfully accused of domestic violence, you stand to lose much more than your reputation. A first-time conviction can result in a $4,000 fine or up to 12 months in jail. Additionally, you can permanently lose your right to own a firearm, have visitation with your children restricted, forfeit your professional license, and miss out on employment opportunities.
Only the Prosecutor Can Drop Charges
Once accused, your fate rests in the hands of the prosecutor. South Carolina law permits only criminal prosecutors to file or dismiss family violence cases. Even if your spouse or significant other wants to dismiss or “drop” the charges, it is not possible under state law.
This means that offenders can still be prosecuted even after an alleged victim withdraws the accusations or admits to lying to law enforcement officials. As a result, the accused often ends up feeling like the victim. When you are wrongfully accused, you need a criminal defense attorney experienced in contesting charges brought by the state.
Challenging Protective Orders
South Carolina law permits alleged domestic violence victims to petition the court for a protective order. Once issued, these orders prohibit the accused from having any contact with the victim. This can prevent the accused from accessing his home and, in some cases, seeing his children. If a member of your household requests a protective order, you only have 14 days to prepare a defense in your case. If you show up to the hearing unprepared, you risk having a protective order issued against you.