SC domestic violence ruling
By: Haley Hernandez
July 08, 2012
There’s a change in how police respond to a call about domestic violence. A ruling by the state court of appeals says unless law enforcement witnesses the abuse, they can no longer issue a regular traffic citation to charge the suspect, now they need a warrant from a magistrate judge, the idea being that warrants elevate the crime to a more serious offense.
Charleston’s women’s shelter, My Sister’s House, worries that requiring officers to go before a magistrate to testify could also reduce the number of citations issued. “If you have to take the time to get a warrant, there is a gap and a time space in there so what happens to the victim in the meantime while they’re getting this warrant?” executive director Elmire Raven said.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said it’s only changing procedure not delaying any arrests and a victim will not be left in a dangerous situation.
For smaller towns, finding a magistrate judge at all hours and days of the week isn’t that simple so law enforcement officials around the state are having to brace for the change.
“If theres a victim in dire need, if a crimes been committed, we’re going to remove that suspect from the scene,” Chesnee Police Chief Danny Swofford said.
Charleston deputies said this ruling also applies to other cases like shoplifting.