Lawyers will work free to help prosecute criminal domestic violence cases under a new program of South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. Both criminal and civil lawyers will volunteer their time and be trained by judges, support groups and prosecutors, the Associated Press reports.
National experts have rated South Carolina as one of the worst states in the country for fighting domestic violence.
Criminal domestic violence charges are often misdemeanors tried in magistrate’s court. Defendants can retain lawyers, but most cases are prosecuted by police officers who investigated them instead of a trained lawyer. That leaves the state without representation, leading to dropped charges and fewer convictions, McMaster said.