If you are facing Domestic Violence criminal charges in SC, at your bond hearing, the judge may have ordered as a condition of your bond that you have no contact with the victim in the Domestic Violence case. Since your arrest, things may have changed dramatically and you and your wife, girlfriend or partner are ready to resume living together again. The victim in the case may not even want to pursue criminal charges. The incident may have been a one time event and does not represent the way you and your loved one normally carry on in your relationship. The incident could be one bad night of too much alcohol.
With a “no contact with the victim order” in place, you may be facing unforeseen struggles, such as how can we pay our rent, mortgage, light bill, water bill, and other bills if we can’t have contact? How can I financially support my family if my wife doesn’t work outside the home and I am the primary breadwinner? How can we afford for my family to live in our marital home while I have to live somewhere different? What if we have no extended family in South Carolina to help with daycare costs?
First, you must understand that no matter what the circumstances are, you never should violate a judge’s order. The only way to modify this order is to have a judge modify the order. You cannot unilaterally modify an order. You cannot start having contact even if the alleged victim in the case is calling you, texting you, or contacting you 90 times an hour. The victim is not under a no contact order — you are. So you are the one who could get in trouble with the courts and the judge for not following the terms of your bond. You can have your bond revoked and go to jail if you do not obey the orders of a judge.
So, how do you get the Judge to modify the no contact order so you and your family can be reunited? You may be wondering how to file a motion, and what even is a motion? You or your lawyer will handle filing a motion to modify the terms of your bond to allow contact with the alleged victim.
In this article you will learn:
- What a motion to modify bond conditions is in South Carolina
- Whether a no contact order with the victim can be modified or changed
- How no contact orders can be modified in South Carolina
Motions & Bond Hearings in South Carolina
If you are facing jail time and you can’t afford to hire a private attorney, you could apply for a public defender. There are qualifications to obtain a public defender. Many people think that they are “entitled” and will automatically get a public defender; that is not correct. You must qualify for a public defender. In other words, you may or may not be appointed a public defender, depending on your qualifications.
Public defenders’ salaries are paid by the Government. There is a $40 application fee that you will be responsible for paying. Keep in mind that public defenders typically have heavy caseloads; they are attorneys just as private criminal attorneys are, but they don’t have the luxury that private attorneys have to only take on as many cases as they want to handle at one time.
For example, when I was a prosecutor in Dorchester County, my caseload was usually around 150 cases. As a private lawyer, I may have around 50 cases at a time. I have the ability to control which cases I take on that are a good fit for the law firm. This allows me to have ample time to spend on each client. If I feel my caseload is getting too large, I simply stop taking cases.
Basic of Motions
According to the South Carolina Courts, “A motion is a formal request, usually in writing, asking a judge to issue an order or ruling.”
Motions are used for all types of things in a criminal case. It is basically a piece of paper that tells the Judge, “this is what we are asking for in this case… this is what we need.” The Government (the prosecutor assigned to the case, law enforcement, etc.) are copied on the motion filed on behalf of the accused (Defendant) with the Clerk of Court’s office.
Pro Se Litigants: Representing Yourself in Court
If you do not have a lawyer, the court classifies you as a “Pro Se litigant.” If you represent yourself, you must have the legal skills and knowledge to file a motion to modify the terms of the bond.
You will not have an attorney present to advocate for you, or “take up” for you in court. You will not have an attorney to tell the Judge what you need changed relating to the “no contact” order. You will not have an attorney looking out and advising you in court because you will be representing yourself.
Bond Hearings: What are they? How do they work?
Your first court appearance will likely be a bond hearing. You won’t have to file a motion to have this first hearing. Everyone has the right to a timely bond hearing, so you don’t have to file a motion for your first bond setting.
At a bond hearing, the Judge will set the conditions of bond. This may include a “no contact with the victim” provision. If you wish to have contact with the victim, you may then consider a motion for bond modification hearing.
When To File a Bond Modification Motion
Bond modification motions are filed after the bond hearing and before any court date or trial. However, after your first bond hearing, your attorney or you will have to file a motion to modify the terms of your bond.
Typically the prosecutor or the clerk of court sets the bond hearing date, depending on the jurisdiction. Motions will often be heard in court, and you must be present if you don’t have an attorney.
Filing a Motion
Motions are filed with the Clerk of Court’s office. Once the motion is filed with the Clerk’s office, either the Clerk’s office or the prosecution (depending on the jurisdiction) will schedule a court date.
Motion Hearing Court Dates
At the court date, the Defendant or his/her attorney will explain verbally to the court and the prosecution what the Defendant needs (the Defendant requests to have contact with the victim and the reasons why).
Orders Modifying Bond
The Judge will typically rule on the motion at that hearing and instruct either party to prepare a written order denying or granting the motion. Sometimes the Judge needs time to think about his/her decision. If that happens, the motion will be taken “under advisement.” At some later time, the Judge will notify both sides (the Defendant and the State) of the Judge’s decision. If the Defendant’s motion is granted, the Defendant may have contact with the victim. If the Defendant’s motion is denied, the Defendant shall not have contact with the victim.
Sometimes the judge may grant part of the motion and deny part of the motion. For example, the judge may rule that the Defendant must complete anger management classes and show documentation of completion before the Court will consider allowing the Defendant to have contact with the victim.
Have questions about your SC bond conditions?
Getting a no contact with the victim motion modified, heard, and ruled upon is a necessary step in order to have a bond condition changed.
As you can see from this article, navigating this type of motion can be tricky without an attorney to help guide you. Susan has handled numerous bond modification motions. Contact her today for a free consultation on bond modification motions.