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South Carolina

Local Resources

Stalking often occurs along with other crimes, like domestic violence and sexual assault. While there are no state coalitions for victims of stalking, many domestic violence and sexual assault programs are able to provide assistance. Many of the resources can be confusing to navigate, victim advocates are available to talk to you about your states criminal stalking laws. Victim advocates can also assist you with safety planning, keeping a log of stalking incidents, and how to be safe when using technology. Find services and/or an advocate in your county using the following links:

Protection Orders

A protective order is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming and/or contacting another. Each state may have several types of protective orders: civil protective orders, criminal protective orders, or restraining orders, and they may have different names (for example, in Pennsylvania, there are “protection from abuse” orders). Some protective orders are specific to domestic and interfamilial violence, while others are broader, covering stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other types of misconduct. An individual can get a protection order when the perpetrator is proven to have acted with intent to cause the victim emotional distress or fear for his/her safety, even when the perpetrator has not been charged or convicted. They permit the victim to call the police to have the abuser arrested if the abuser violates any part of the order.

Click here for more information on protection orders in South Carolina.

Criminal Stalking Laws

Criminal stalking laws define when a perpetrator may be charged with the crime of stalking, and what infractions are required to bring such a charge. The laws usually define various misdemeanor and felony offenses that correlate with the severity of the transgression. Based on police investigation, a state prosecutor will determine what charges to bring against an offender, and will then file charges against the perpetrator (formally known as an indictment). A trial typically follows, and the defendant may be offered a plea agreement. The criminal statute will also delineate potential punishments, if the perpetrator is convicted, which may include probation, house arrest, and incarceration, among others. Restitution may be requested and awarded to the victim by court order following a conviction, usually at a sentencing hearing.

Click here for more information on criminal stalking laws in South Carolina.

National Resources

  • VictimConnect Resource Center - Confidential information, support and referrals for victims of crime via telephone, chat and text including safety planning and crime reporting.
  • WomensLaw.org - State-specific legal information related regarding protection orders, custody, divorce, state gun laws and more. WomensLaw.org also operates an email hotline where victims, their family/friends and advocates can write to ask legal questions.

Protection Orders

§ 16-3-1750. Action seeking a restraining order against a person engaged in harassment or stalking; jurisdiction and venue; forms; enforceability.

(A) Pursuant to this article, the magistrates court has jurisdiction over an action seeking a restraining order against a person engaged in harassment in the first or second degree or stalking.

(B) An action for a restraining order must be filed in the county in which:

(1) the defendant resides when the action commences;

(2) the harassment in the first or second degree or stalking occurred; or

(3) the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a nonresident of the State or cannot be found.

(C) A complaint and motion for a restraining order may be filed by any person. The complaint must:

(1) allege that the defendant is engaged in harassment in the first or second degree or stalking and must state the time, place, and manner of the acts complained of, and other facts and circumstances upon which relief is sought;

(2) be verified; and

(3) inform the defendant of his right to retain counsel to represent him at the hearing on the complaint.

(D) The magistrates court must provide forms to facilitate the preparation and filing of a complaint and motion for a restraining order by a plaintiff not represented by counsel. The court must not charge a fee for filing a complaint and motion for a restraining order against a person engaged in harassment or stalking. However, the court shall assess a filing fee against the nonprevailing party in an action for a restraining order. The court may hold a person in contempt of court for failure to pay this filing fee.

(E) A restraining order remains in effect for a fixed period of time of not less than one year, as determined by the court on a case-by-case basis.

(F) Notwithstanding another provision of law, a restraining order or a temporary restraining order issued pursuant to this article is enforceable throughout this State.

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Criminal Stalking Laws

S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1700 . Definitions. (2006)
As used in this article:

(A)  "Harassment in the first degree" means a pattern of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that serves no legitimate purpose and causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in his position to suffer mental or emotional distress. Harassment in the first degree may include, but is not limited to:

(1)  following the targeted person as he moves from location to location;

(2)  visual or physical contact that is initiated, maintained, or repeated after a person has been provided oral or written notice that the contact is unwanted or after the victim has filed an incident report with a law enforcement agency;

(3)  surveillance of or the maintenance of a presence near the targeted person's:

(a) residence;

(b) place of work;

(c) school; or

(d) another place regularly occupied or visited by the targeted person; and

(4)  vandalism and property damage.

(B)  "Harassment in the second degree" means a pattern of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that serves no legitimate purpose and causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in his position to suffer mental or emotional distress. Harassment in the second degree may include, but is not limited to, verbal, written, or electronic contact that is initiated, maintained, or repeated.

(C)  "Stalking" means a pattern of words, whether verbal, written, or electronic, or a pattern of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to cause and does cause a targeted person and would cause a reasonable person in the targeted person's position to fear:

(1)  death of the person or a member of his family;

(2)  assault upon the person or a member of his family;

(3)  bodily injury to the person or a member of his family;

(4)  criminal sexual contact on the person or a member of his family;

(5)  kidnapping of the person or a member of his family; or

(6)  damage to the property of the person or a member of his family.

(D)  "Pattern" means two or more acts occurring over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.

(E)  "Family" means a spouse, child, parent, sibling, or a person who regularly resides in the same household as the targeted person.

(F)  "Electronic contact" means any transfer of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, data, intelligence, or information of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by any device, system, or mechanism including, but not limited to, a wire, radio, computer, electromagnetic, photoelectric, or photo-optical system.

(G)  This section does not apply to words or conduct protected by the Constitution of this State or the United States, a law enforcement officer or a process server performing official duties, or a licensed private investigator performing services or an investigation as described in detail in a contract signed by the client and the private investigator pursuant to Section 40-18-70.

(H) A person who commits the offense of harassment in any degree or stalking, as defined in this section, while subject to the terms of a restraining order issued by the family court may be charged with a violation of this article and, upon conviction, may be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 16-3-171016-3-1720, or 16-3-1730.

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S.C. Code Ann. § 16-3-1730 . Penalties for conviction of stalking. (2006)
(A)  A person who engages in stalking is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than five years, or both.  

 

(B)  A person who engages in stalking when an injunction or restraining order is in effect prohibiting this conduct is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than seven thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(C)  A person who engages in stalking and who has a prior conviction of harassment or stalking within the preceding ten years is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than fifteen years, or both.

(D)  In addition to the penalties provided in this section, a person convicted of stalking who received licensing or registration information pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 3 of Title 56 and used the information in furtherance of the commission of the offense pursuant to this section must be fined one thousand dollars or imprisoned one year, or both.

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