By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)————————————–Last week, officers with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office participated in training concerning the new Domestic Violence law.
The Domestic Violence Reform Act became effective with the signature of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley back on June 4th. The training was conducted by 10th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Blair Stoudelmire and was held in the 2nd floor training room at the Law Enforcement Center in Walhalla.
“The Sheriff’s Office has held training for officers in the county for the past two years regarding domestic violence and this training continues the commitment for officers to receive the best training available when it comes to the issue of domestic violence,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Needed changes in the domestic violence law were made that will allow law enforcement to be more effective. This training provided our officers with a better understanding of the changes in the law and tools that will help them in the prosecution of these cases.”
One of the biggest changes regarding the new law is that the determination of charges is based on levels of degrees, similar to the current Assault and Battery laws. There are also circumstances that can upgrade the level of the degree of a domestic violence arrest, for example, whether a protection order was violated or whether a minor was present or perceived a threat or whether someone was blocked from seeking help to whether a firearm was used. Also taken into consideration regarding the seriousness of the crime are how many convictions a subject has had within the past ten years. In addition, the penalties for a conviction have been increased.
Discussion during the training included the law concerning new types of restraining orders, including Emergency Restraining Orders, which is issued by a magistrate and remains in effect until a hearing can be held on a Permanent Restraining Order. A Permanent Restraining Order is another type of new restraining order that can be issued by the General Sessions or Family Court at the time a defendant is convicted of an offense or by Common Pleas court in the county where the defendant committed a crime and remains in effect for a time period that a judge specifies and is good for a victim and a witness as well.
“Our officers have received domestic violence training in the last couple of years from Safe Harbor as well as the South Carolina Attorney General’s office and from our domestic violence investigator Sergeant Kevin Cain,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to reducing the numbers of domestic violence incidents in Oconee County and deputies began enforcing these new laws as soon as we were able to after June 4th. Our partnership with the Solicitor’s Office and the passage of the new law are steps in the process of changing a culture of domestic violence in Oconee County.”