Sex Crime Investigations in South Carolina
Under investigation for a sex crime in Lexington or Columbia?
The Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC provides representation for those who are under investigation for any sexually oriented offense by state or federal authorities anywhere in South Carolina. If you have been accused of child molestation or have been contacted by law enforcement, the single most important piece of advice we can give is do not speak to anyone about your case until you consult with a Lexington criminal defense attorney.
What We Do to Help
If you have been accused of or contacted by law enforcement anywhere in South Carolina in connection with an allegation of child molestation, we want to help you with your case. We offer a set of services designed to provide the maximum benefit to those accused of a sex crime, and to help avoid a future criminal charge later:
- We interview our clients and others knowledgeable about the allegations
- Obtain relevant family court and other legal case files
- As necessary, use consultants in the area of forensic child interview techniques, polygraph testing, psychological evaluations and private investigation
- Alert law enforcement that our client asserts all legal rights, and to direct all further communications to our attorneys
We understand what a tremendously stressful experience this may be for you, and are prepared to provide you with compassionate support and dedicated representation to help you find your way through this situation.
Free Consultations & Case Evaluations
Getting our office's help in your case is easy. Call us 24 hours a day, even on weekends, or contact us online. The first step will be to schedule an initial consultation about your case. At the consultation you will have a chance to ask any questions that you may have, along with developing an initial defense strategy to respond to the allegations against you.
Sex Crimes are Handled Differently
The way that sex crimes are investigated and prosecuted in South Carolina is different than other serious criminal offenses. These crimes are so hated by the public that the mere allegation turns the stomach of many people. In the zeal to apprehend and incarcerate a predator, innocent until proven guilty can often be flipped into guilty until proven innocent.
False allegations come from multiple sources:
- Children may be coached into making false statements to gain an advantage by one side in a divorce or custody case
- After exposure to adult movies or Internet sites when children act out sexual themes or play
- When children have been abused, falsely accusing someone else can be used to protect the guilty party
- Older children may lie to retaliate for being punished, to gain power over a parent or step-parent or due to drug use or mental illness
Don't Misinterpret the Law
Many people under investigation for child molestation in South Carolina mistakenly believe that the law requires that there be some proof before they can be arrested or sent to prison. Although some evidence is required, it is not as much as you might think. In fact, S.C. Code S.C. §16-3-657 specifically states that "testimony of the victim need not be corroborated in prosecutions" for criminal sexual conduct with a minor. No other witnesses, DNA, physical evidence, or confession is required.
Defense Use of Polygraph Screenings
One of the most powerful, but frequently misunderstood tools in child molestation cases is the polygraph. Many times the police request that someone take a polygraph in order to "clear their name." Unfortunately due to a variety of reasons not everyone is an ideal candidate for a polygraph. Making the wrong choice when it comes to the polygraph can be the deciding factor in bringing formal charges against a suspect.
When you take a police polygraph, the investigators immediately know your results. Further, anything you say during the test, or even your body language, can be used against you later in deciding whether or not to arrest or you in court. If you actually pass, the test results could still be officially classified as "inconclusive," allowing an investigation to continue. If you fail, this could immediately result in your arrest and criminal prosecution.
At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we make use of the latest in polygraph technology for our client's best interests, not as a shortcut for law enforcement. Defense polygraph screenings are employed by our office when:
- There has been a request by law enforcement to submit to a police polygraph. Whether or not our client is innocent, we want to know if anything in our client's past, any hidden medical condition or medication would make the polygraph unreliable or faulty. Our clients must pass a defense test before we ever consider submitting to a police examination.
- When after consultation with our client we believe that a report from a licensed South Carolina polygraph examiner will show that the allegations are false or untrue, and taking a polygraph would be a way to head off criminal prosecution or have existing charges dismissed.
When a defense polygraph screening is used by our office the entire procedure is strictly confidential unless, and until our client decides to share the results. Results are not automatically shared with police, the prosecutor or the court.
Lewd Acts on a Minor
One of the most common child molestation offenses is lewd acts on a minor. This offense is a felony and carries up to 15 years' imprisonment in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. To be arrested and convicted, all that is required is that there was evidence that someone under the age of 16 was touched in a sexual manner anywhere on their body. The touching does not have to be a private area and can be either on top of or underneath clothing.
Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor
The most serious child molestation offense in South Carolina is criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor. There are three degrees of this charge, based on the age of the child. The most serious, first degree, is for children under the age of 11. For a conviction, the law requires that there be a sexual battery (defined as a non-medical touching) of the child's vaginal, anal or other bodily cavity. CSC carries a penalty of 25 years to life, second degree carries a penalty of up to 20 years and third degree carries up to 20 years.
South Carolina Sex Offender Registry
All convictions for a child molestation charge will result in placement in the sex offender registry. Further, the defendant will be screened for commitment proceedings as a sexually violent predator, which can result in confinement in excess of the prison sentence originally imposed by the court. The registry is publically available, and will follow someone from state to state.
Let Us Defend Your Future
If you have been accused of or placed under investigation for child molestation in South Carolina, contact the Lexington criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC today. Appointments are strictly confidential, and are held at our office at 316 South Lake Drive in downtown Lexington. Although no lawyer can ever make a promise or guarantee about the outcome of a police investigation, or a criminal charge, we believe that an assertion of our client's rights during an investigation, combined with appropriate defense strategies, will help minimize the chances of an arrest, prosecution or prison sentence later.