Sexual Battery with a Student in Lexington

Understanding the Laws in South Carolina

We have all seen the news stories where school teachers or employees are arrested for having a sexual relationship with a student. Many are unaware that South Carolina has a statute specifically outlawing this type of relationship, even when it is entirely consensual. These arrests can be devastating, and in one single day you can learn that your family, freedom, job, licensure, and community reputation are all at risk.

South Carolina's sex with student law is contained in S.C. Code § 16-3-755. It makes it a felony to have sexual relations with a student that is sixteen or seventeen years of age. A relationship with a student who is at least eighteen is a misdemeanor. All teachers or school officials charged with this offense also risk termination of employment and a permanent loss of any teaching credentials. As a felony this law provides for up to five years imprisonment.

This law only applies to students that are at least sixteen years of age. Sexual contact with students fifteen years of age or younger will be covered by the standard child molestation statutes including lewd act upon a minor or criminal sexual conduct with a minor. This law also only applies to relations that are consensual. If force is used against a student to accomplish sexual contact then this would be covered by existing assault or rape laws.

Examining the Possible Defenses

Many times a teacher may be arrested for violating this statute will no corroborating evidence, other than the word of a student. False allegations may arise from a variety of circumstances, including from students with existing mental health or emotional issues, students who have developed a crush or infatuation or students who have lied about their sexual escapades to other students. Many times these cases may benefit from conducting a more thorough and detailed investigation than was originally conducted by law enforcement. This may involve the use of private investigators, psychologists and consultants in forensic interview techniques.

Just because you have been charged with this offense does not mean that you will be found guilty. Teachers accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student enjoy all of the other rights afforded to criminal suspects. This includes the presumption of innocence, the right to challenge and confront your accuser, the right to remain silent and the right to a full trial by jury. If you or a loved one is under investigation for or has been arrested for any sexual contact with a student it is important that you do not discuss your case with law enforcement or school officials without first consulting with a Lexington criminal defense attorney.

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, located in Lexington, South Carolina, we are able to assist teachers or other school officials with fighting false or unfair accusations. We can assemble a team of professional investigators and other experts to assist in protecting your reputation, freedom and livelihood. Contact our office for a free, confidential consultation with a Lexington criminal lawyer.

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