Restraining Orders in South Carolina (and how to fight them)
Bad breakup? Family Turmoil? A few weeks later, a deputy shows up at your door handing you a piece of paper informing you someone is seeking a restraining order against you. Your mind floods with worry. What is happening? Why am I receiving this? What can I do?
In South Carolina, any person, no matter their relationship to you, can petition the magistrate court to grant a restraining order. This petition is readily available and straightforward; the person seeking the order has to identify at least two instances where you committed one of the following: Harassment 1st Degree, Harassment 2nd Degree, or Stalking. The definitions of each of these are contained in SC Code 16-3-1700.
Once the petition is filed, a deputy will serve it on you, along with a summons commanding you to appear in court. When you get these papers, don't fret, as while it’s easy for a person to make allegations against you, it's much harder for them to prove those allegations are true. This is where the help of an experienced attorney comes into play.
On your court date, a magistrate judge will conduct a hearing to determine if the petition should be granted. During this hearing, the person seeking the order must present evidence, either through testimony, witnesses, documents, phone records, photos, videos, etc. to prove their case.
You have the opportunity to cross examine any witnesses who may testify- an opportunity that can often make the difference in whether the petition is granted. Typical cross examination topics include- whether the person seeking the order can prove you committed some act falling within the statute (verbal, electronic, physical contact, etc.), can they prove you were making the phone calls, sending the text messages, standing outside their home, etc..
If the judge grants the restraining order, several immediate things can happen: your right to purchase/possess a firearm can be taken; your ability to frequent certain areas or events can be restricted; your ability to pass a background check and/or seek employment in certain areas can be impacted. Violations of these orders carry stiff penalties and jail time.
Are you facing a restraining order hearing? Has someone made allegations against you that will impact the rest of your life? Call today for help. (803) 739-1824
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