Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature
The most serious domestic violence charge in South Carolina is domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and carries a penalty up to 20 years in prison if convicted. This charge requires harm or the threat of harm to a household member and the addition of at least one of three aggravating factors. We’re going to discuss those today. Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC and today we’re talking about domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
What’s the Law?
So why is this charge the most serious domestic violence charge in this state. It’s because to get to this level you must have committed either Domestic violence 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree and then an additional act known as an aggravating factor.
There are three aggravating factors and that can elevate your domestic violence 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree charge to domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
The first aggravating factor is when:
- The accused commits the offense under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life & the victim suffers great bodily injury.
The second aggravating factor is when:
- The accused commits the offense under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, with or without injury, but the victim reasonably feared great bodily injury or death.
The third aggravating factor is when:
- You violated an order of protection and committed domestic violence first degree.
So what does “extreme indifference to the value of human life” mean? It can be defined as:
- Using a deadly weapon.
- Choking the alleged victim causing loss of consciousness or near loss of consciousness.
- Committing domestic violence in front of a minor
- Committing domestic violence against a pregnant person
- Committing domestic violence during a robbery, burglary, kidnapping or theft.
- Preventing the alleged victim from calling the police or EMS.
The difficult cases are not the ones where the facts and evidence clearly show a victim who has suffered great bodily injury but rather those cases where the accusation is that a weapon was used or that they were choked and there is very little physical evidence to support that claim. What makes these particular cases difficult, is they lack independent evidence to corroborate the claim. When there’s little to no sign of physical injury, or in the case of a deadly weapon there are no physical signs of a weapon being used it’s a swearing contest between two people. Often, these cases will result in a jury trial to determine who to believe, and if you’re the accused, that means you must make the monumental decision of whether to testify or exercise your right to remain silent. That’s an incredibly difficult decision to have to make and if you have a prior criminal history you could open the door to all that coming in if you’re not careful on the witness stand.
If have been charged with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and want to discuss your options, please call me at (843) 530-7813. I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.