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Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: South Carolina

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 8, 2020

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in South Carolina have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If you have any questions about it, be sure to ask the clerk.
  • Make several copies of the order of protection as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order of protection with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order of protection at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks, if permitted by law, and your phone number.

One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order of protection from the clerk. If the abuser was not at your final hearing, make sure law enforcement is serving him/her with a copy of the order of protection.

You may also wish to make a safety plan. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many abusers obey orders of protection, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Safety Tips.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

A violation of the order can be a criminal offense. Punishment can range from thirty days in jail to a fine of $200. A violation can also be considered “contempt of court,” which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.1

It is important to note that if the officer has “probable cause” to believe an assault has been committed, the police must make an arrest on domestic violence calls even if you don’t have an order of protection.

The respondent can be arrested even if you invite or “allow” the respondent to violate the prohibitions contained in the order. For example, if your order of protection that says the abuser cannot contact you, the abuser can be arrested for contacting you even if you contact him/her first.

If you no longer need the order of protection or want to change it, you must get a court order terminating or modifying the order for protection. See How do I extend, change, or cancel my order of protection?

1 S.C. Code § 20-4-60(B)(1)

How do I extend, change, or cancel my order of protection?

A judge can extend your order of protection, if you can show that it’s necessary for your protection. Return to the family court clerk’s office and request a motion to extend form. Be sure to bring your order of protection with you.

If you need to change your order of protection, you will need to return to court and ask the judge. Return to the family court clerk’s office and request a motion to modify form. Be sure to bring your order of protection with you.

If you have reconciled with the respondent and want to cancel your order of protection, you do not have to go to a hearing. Instead, you can return to the clerk’s office and ask for an order of dismissal. You will have to show proper ID and sign a written request to dismiss the order on the basis of reconciliation.1

1 S.C. Code § 20-4-70(A)

What happens if I move?

Federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area. Alternatively, you can call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111, ext. 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.