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Legal Information: South Carolina

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
December 8, 2020

What is a permanent restraining order?

A permanent restraining order is a civil order that can be issued based on a conviction for certain criminal offenses. It can protect not only victims of crime but also witnesses who helped the prosecution during the criminal court proceedings.1

1 S.C. Code § 16-3-1920(C)

What types of criminal convictions could qualify me for a permanent restraining order?

If the respondent is convicted of, pleads guilty to, pleads no contest (“nolo contendere”) to, forfeits bail to, or is a juvenile who is adjudicated “delinquent”1 of any of the following crimes or the attempt to commit any of these crimes, you can qualify for a permanent restraining order:

Note: You can also get a permanent restraining order if the abuser was charged with a criminal sexual conduct offense, but it was later pled down to “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature” or if the abuser was charged with a domestic violence offense and it was later pled down to “assault and battery” or “assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.”2

1 S.C. Code § 16-3-1900(2)
2 S.C. Code § 16-3-1900(3)

What protections can I get in a permanent restraining order?

A permanent restraining order can order the respondent not to:

  • abuse, threaten to abuse, or bother (“molest”) you and members of your family;
  • enter or attempt to enter your home, workplace, school, or other location; and
  • communicate or attempt to communicate with you or members of your family.1

​An emergency restraining order issued by the Magistrate’s Court can provide the same protections.2

​1 S.C. Code § 16-3-1910(K)
2 S.C. Code § 16-3-1920(I)

In which county do I file for a permanent restraining order?

If you are filing in the General Sessions Court, you will be filing in the court that issues the criminal conviction so there is no question as to in which county you must file. If you file in the Court of Common Pleas, you must file in any of the following counties:

  1. the county where the respondent lives;
  2. the county where the criminal offense occurred; or
  3. the county where the you live but only if the respondent doesn’t live in the state or cannot be found.1

​1 S.C. Code §16-3-1920(B)