Sexual assault is a sex crime that may include groping, touching another person’s genitals or breasts, or penetrative sex. Depending on the act alleged, the corresponding punishments range in severity.

If you are concerned about sexual assault charges, you need to understand what penalties you face and how you may be able to defend yourself. A Charleston sexual assault lawyer may be able to provide invaluable advice and help as you decide what course of action is best. Reach out to a dedicated sex crimes attorney today.

Sexual Assault in Charleston

Sexual assault occurs when one person forcefully threatens or engages in sexual activity with another person without their consent. Examples of sexual assault include:

  • Rape
  • Sexual harassment
  • Unwanted touching
  • Child molestation

Prosecutors and judges will treat any attempt to commit any of the above offenses as if the act were completed.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery means a person forced another person to do any of the following:

  • Intercourse
  • Cunnilingus
  • Fellatio
  • Sexual penetration

Spousal Sexual Battery

If a person commits sexual battery on their spouse through the use or threat of use of a weapon or physical force, that is a felony. The punishment for spousal sexual battery is up to ten years in prison, as described in South Carolina Code §16-3-615. The spouse must report the crime within 30 days of its occurrence.

Sexual Conduct in the First Degree

If a person commits some act of sexual battery along with aggravated force, kidnapping, trafficking, housebreaking, or another other crime, that is first-degree sexual conduct, as noted in S.C. Code §16-3-652. The court may sentence the actor to up to 30 years in prison.

Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree

If a person uses threats to overcome another person’s will and commit sexual battery, that is second-degree sexual conduct, as found in S.C. Code §16-3-653. The court may sentence the actor to 20 years in jail.

Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree

If a person uses non-aggravating force or coercion, or the actor knows that the victim is mentally disabled or mentally or physically incapacitated, that is third-degree sexual conduct. The punishment may carry a penalty of up to ten years of incarceration.

Statutory Rape

If a person engages in sexual activities with a minor under 11 years old \ that is criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree. A second-degree act may involve a minor who is over 11 years old or a minor under the actor’s custodial care. Having sex with a minor over 14 years old is a third-degree act. The punishments for statutory rape can range from 15 years to life in prison, or less at the judge’s discretion. Therefore, defendants should contact a sexual assault lawyer in Charleston right away to begin building a defense.

Schedule an Appointment with a Charleston Sexual Assault Attorney

A sexual offense conviction may have dramatic effects on your future, your reputation, and your social freedom. Even if you do not serve jail time, the law may prohibit you from living near schools or holding specific jobs. Reach out to a Charleston sexual assault lawyer to learn more about what you can do and what rights and defenses you may be able to assert.