Domestic violence is a growing concern for many families across the Myrtle Beach area. Women and men alike are killed every day in domestic violence incidents. In 2007, South Carolina ranked 8th for the number of women killed by men in 2007. Just last week, May 18th, in South Carolina, Merlene Nesmith was shot and killed by her spouse Christopher White.
Criminal domestic violence occurs under circumstances reasonably creating fear of immediate peril with the present ability to do physical harm or injury to a member of the defendant’s household. A household member may include spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common and a male and female who are cohabitating or have formerly cohabitated. South Carolina specifically excludes same sex couples in the household member definition. Aggravated criminal domestic violence is defined as criminal domestic violence plus the use of a deadly weapon or the infliction of serious bodily injury or an assault, which would cause a person to fear immediate serious bodily injury or death.
If the defendant is charged with criminal domestic violence as a first offense, he may face up to 30 days in jail or a fine up to $2,500. If the defendant is charged with criminal domestic violence as a second offense, he may face jail time up to 1 year and a fine up to $5,000. If the defendant is facing a domestic violence charge for the third or fourth time, it is a felony, and the defendant could face prison time up to 10 years.
Often, domestic violence goes unreported because the victim is afraid of what the batterer will do next. Victims of domestic violence should know that the police have a duty to protect them if they come to the residence and there are physical manifestations of injuries to their bodies and the police have probable cause to believe that the other household member has committed the criminal domestic violence. If both household members claim that they have been battered then the police must determine the primary aggressor and arrest only that person.
One in four women have experienced domestic violence. Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year. Nearly three out of four of Americans know someone who is or has been the victim of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence, there are resources for you here locally in Myrtle Beach. Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, (CASA) is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping domestic violence victims. CASA offers counseling, legal advocacy, education, a safe house, as well as a 24-hour crisis line.
Local attorney Daniel Selwa is a legal advocate for CASA and can help provide legal protection for domestic violence victims. As the victim of domestic violence, you can petition the Court for a protection order. When issued, the protection order will prevent the defendant from coming anywhere near you. If the defendant violates the protection order, he will face jail time. It is important that victims of domestic violence take immediate action to protect themselves and their families, let Daniel Selwa help you today.