Judges issue protective orders to stop a person from abusing another. South Carolina offers two types of protective orders that cover all relationships, from an ex-spouse to a neighbor.
A protective order’s value comes from its enforceability. When people violate protective orders, the Police can arrest them and judges can sentence them to jail time.
Here is some information about protective orders in South Carolina.
Types of Protective Orders
South Carolina provides two types of protective orders. We’ll explore each in depth below.
Order of Protection
A court can issue an order of protection protecting the petitioner (the person asking for the order of protection) from abuse by the respondent (the person accused of abuse).
Under South Carolina’s Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, orders of protection are only available when the respondent and petitioner have a household relationship, including:
- Parents of a child, whether they are or were married or not
- Couples of the opposite sex who live or formerly lived together
These categories leave out other family relationships including parent-child, sibling, and same-sex couples.
Allegation of Abuse
To obtain an order of protection, you must allege past abuse against you or a minor child in your care. Abuse can include physical harm, bodily injury, threats of violence, and sexual assault. These narrow categories exclude other forms of harassment, such as physical or electronic stalking.
Hearing on Petition
A family court judge reviews the petition for an order of protection. The judge will also review any supporting documents, such as police reports documenting the prior abuse.
The judge will hold a hearing on the petition so the respondent may provide a defense. If the judge believes the petitioner has proven the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence, the judge can hold a hearing 24 hours after the respondent receives a copy of the petition. In all other cases, the judge will hold a hearing 15 days after the petition is filed.
A judge can restrain the respondent from:
- Abusing or threatening to abuse the victim
- Contacting the victim
- Entering the victim’s home, work, or school
The judge can also:
- Award temporary child custody to the petitioner
- Require payment of child support
- Award temporary possession of the family home to the petitioner
- Prohibit the respondent from selling or destroying any family assets
- Require the respondent to turn over the petitioner’s personal property, including pets
If the respondent violates the terms of the order, they can receive a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $200.
The other type of order of protection is a restraining order. These orders cover any type of relationship. For example, you could get a restraining order against an ex-spouse or an ex-boss.
Allegation of Harassment or Stalking
You do not need to allege prior abuse to get a restraining order. Instead, you need to show that the respondent has violated South Carolina’s criminal laws against harassment or stalking.
Harassment involves a pattern of intrusion into your private life for no legitimate purpose. The harassment must cause you emotional distress. Examples of harassment include following you and repeated unwanted visual, electronic, or physical contact.
Stalking means a pattern of words or conduct that causes you to fear death, assault, bodily injury, sexual contact, kidnapping, or destruction of property at the hands of the stalker.
Hearing on Motion
A magistrate judge will review the motion and grant the restraining order within 24 hours if the judge believes you have proven an imminent threat of bodily injury. Otherwise, the magistrate will hold a hearing within 15 days after filing.
A restraining order can prohibit the stalker or harasser from:
- Abusing or threatening to abuse the victim or the victim’s family
- Entering or attempting to enter the victim’s home, work, or school
- Communicating or attempting to communicate with the victim
Violation of a restraining order can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
To discuss whether you might need an order of protection, contact Bleecker Family Law to schedule a consultation.