Effects of Protection Orders in South Carolina
Victims of domestic violence can file an Order of Protection to help protect them from further harm. Also called a “restraining order” by many people, an Order of Protection provides certain legal safeguards for reported victims and their minor children while imposing strict limits on alleged domestic violence offenders. However, only certain victims can file a petition for legal protection, which include:
- Husbands and wives of reported abusers
- Mothers and fathers of the reported abuser’s child
- A household member of the opposite sex with whom the reported abuser lives or used to live
It is relatively easy to obtain an Order of Protection in South Carolina depending on the circumstances of your case. Once obtained, an Order could last from 6 months to a year and can be renewed. If your accuser backs up their arguments with witness testimony or other types of evidence, there could be a strong chance that you will get an Order of Protection against you.
If that is the case and your accuser does get a protection order against you, it may have the following impacts:
- Restrains you from committing further abuse, threatening to abuse, or bothering the alleged victim in any way
- Restrains you from contacting or communicating with the alleged victim, coming to their home, work, school, or other place that the judge writes in the order
- Grants the alleged victim custody of any children you have with them
- Grants the alleged victim visitation with the children
- Requires you to pay child support for any children you have with the alleged victim
- Requires you to pay spousal support or alimony if you are married to the alleged victim
- Grant the alleged victim possession of the home you both live or lived in
- Restrains you or both of you from transferring or destroying any property that might belong to the other person or property that may be marital property
- Allows you or the alleged victim to get their personal property and restrict either or both of you from destroying the other person’s personal property
- Awards attorney’s fees to either person if they had to use an attorney in the Order of Protection case
- Grants the alleged victim any other relief that they have asked for in your petition
Unfortunately, since it can be easy to obtain a protection order from the courts, you may suffer serious restrictions based solely on one side of the story. The victim could skew the story and twist it to make your actions seem more extreme than they actually were. For instance, the victim could allege that you threw an object across the room out of anger and it almost landed on the baby, when in reality, the baby was at your parents’ house. As such, you need a lawyer to help assert these key facts.
It may not seem like a big deal to have a protection order against you, but you will realize how debilitating it can be in your day-to-day life. Depending on the terms of the Order, you must be highly aware of your words, actions, and whereabouts every day for 6 months to a year. It may feel like you’re living in fear.
Fighting a Permanent Restraining Order in South Carolina
South Carolina can issue a “permanent” restraining order against you. Normally, it issues temporary or emergency orders first, giving your accuser time to build a case for a longer, stronger order. Permanent orders of protection last at least one year in the state. They can last longer, and they can be regularly renewed as needed.
You are allowed to show up in court and fight a permanent order. Doing so will be like any other defense case. You can present evidence, documents, witnesses, and so on.
Here are some defenses you can use to fight a permanent, domestic violence restraining order.
Provide an Alibi
It can be easy to prove that you were not present at the time of the alleged abuse. If you were with another person at another location, they can testify in your defense. Perhaps neighbors can verify that your vehicle was not present at the time of the offense. The more you can challenge the timeline of the event and your involvement, the better your defense will be.
It’s important to scrutinize all aspects of the alleged abuse. Your accuser’s medical records, for example, can tell a story that is different from their account. If records don’t corroborate the alleged attack, you can call your accuser’s entire narrative into question.
Scrutinize Physical Evidence
Perhaps your accuser claims that you used an object or weapon against them. If this is untrue, then the physical evidence can disprove their claims. There may be a lack of fingerprints, or the damage to the object and surrounding environment may not match the claim.
Explain That the Assault Was Unintentional
In a heated argument, it’s easy to make wild, flailing gestures. It’s equally easy to make accidental contact, smacking someone or knocking them over. With anger and hurt pride, the other person can make a convincing claim of domestic violence.
Have your attorney help explain what really happened, revealing that there was no intent to cause harm.
You should retain zealous legal advocacy to best avoid letting someone control your life by obtaining an Order of Protection against you. If you would like to learn how Masella Law Firm, P.A. can champion your rights and help you move forward, contact us at (803) 938-4952!