WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: South Carolina

Statutes: South Carolina

View all
Updated: 
December 8, 2020

16-3-1910. Permanent restraining orders; procedure

(A) The circuit court and family court have jurisdiction over an action seeking a permanent restraining order.

(B) To seek a permanent restraining order, a person must:

(1) request the order in general sessions court or family court, as applicable, at the time the respondent is convicted for the criminal offense committed against the complainant; or

(2) file a summons and complaint in common pleas court in the county in which:

(a) the respondent resides when the action commences;

(b) the criminal offense occurred; or

(c) the complainant resides, if the respondent is a nonresident of the State or cannot be found.

(C) The following persons may seek a permanent restraining order:

(1) a victim of a criminal offense that occurred in this State;

(2) a competent adult who resides in this State on behalf of a minor child who is a victim of a criminal offense that occurred in this State; or

(3) a witness who assisted the prosecuting entity in the prosecution of a criminal offense that occurred in this State.

(D) A complaint must:

(1) state that the respondent was a person convicted of a criminal offense for which the victim was the subject of the crime or for which the witness assisted the prosecuting entity;

(2) state when and where the conviction took place, and the name of the prosecuting entity and court;

(3) be verified; and

(4) inform the respondent of his right to retain counsel to represent the respondent at the hearing on the complaint.

(E) A complainant shall provide his address to the court and to any appropriate law enforcement agencies. The complainant’s address must be kept under seal, omitted from all documents filed with the court, and is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests pursuant to Section 30-4-10, et seq. The complainant may designate an alternative address to receive notice of motions or pleadings from the respondent.

(F) The circuit court must provide forms to facilitate the preparation and filing of a summons and complaint for a permanent restraining order by a complainant not represented by counsel. The court must not charge a fee for filing a summons and complaint for a permanent restraining order.

(G) A complainant shall serve his summons and complaint for a permanent restraining order along with a notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing on the complaint pursuant to Rule 4 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. The summons must require the respondent to answer or otherwise plead within thirty days of the date of service.

(H) The court may enter a permanent restraining order by default if the respondent was served in accordance with the provisions of this section and fails to answer as directed, or fails to appear on a subsequent appearance or hearing date agreed to by the parties or set by the court.

(I) The hearing on a permanent restraining order may be done electronically via closed circuit television or through other electronic means when possible. If the respondent is confined in a Department of Corrections facility, the complainant may come to the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services in Richland County to have the hearing held electronically via closed circuit television or through other electronic means.

(J) Upon a finding that the respondent was convicted of a criminal offense for which the victim was the subject of the crime or for which the witness assisted the prosecuting entity, as applicable, the court may issue a permanent restraining order. In determining whether to issue a permanent restraining order, physical injury to the victim or witness is not required.

(K) The terms of a permanent restraining order must protect the victim or witness and may include enjoining the respondent from:

(1) abusing, threatening to abuse, or molesting the victim, witness, or members of the victim’s or witness’ family;

(2) entering or attempting to enter the victim’s or witness’ place of residence, employment, education, or other location; and

(3) communicating or attempting to communicate with the victim, witness, or members of the victim’s or witness’ family in a way that would violate the provisions of this section.

(L) A permanent restraining order must conspicuously bear the following language: “Violation of this order is a felony criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.”

(M)(1) A permanent restraining order remains in effect for a period of time to be determined by the judge. If a victim or witness is a minor at the time a permanent restraining order is issued on the minor’s behalf, the victim or witness, upon reaching the age of eighteen, may file a motion with the circuit court to have the permanent restraining order removed.

(2) The court may modify the terms of a permanent restraining order upon request of the complainant, including extending the duration of the order or lifting the order.

(N) Notwithstanding another provision of law, a permanent restraining order is enforceable throughout this State.

(O) Law enforcement officers shall arrest a respondent who is acting in violation of a permanent restraining order after service and notice of the order is provided. A respondent who is in violation of a permanent restraining order is guilty of a felony, if the underlying conviction that was the basis for the permanent restraining order was a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years. If the underlying conviction that was the basis for the permanent restraining order was a misdemeanor, a respondent who is in violation of a permanent restraining order is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(P) Permanent restraining orders are protection orders for purposes of Section 20-4-320, the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act, as long as all other criteria of Article 3, Chapter 4, Title 20 are met. However, permanent restraining orders are not orders of protection for purposes of Section 16-25-30.(Q) The remedies provided by this section are not exclusive, but are additional to other remedies provided by law.