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Defining Criminal Sexual Conduct in South Carolina

South Carolina Code § 16-3-652 states that criminal sexual conduct can be defined as any act in which one person engages in sexual battery with another. Under the law, "sexual battery" can be used to describe any act of forcible sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal penetration and/or intrusion of any part of a non-consenting person's body. Although there is no statute in South Carolina that describes this crime as such, it is often referred to as rape. Like most other criminal offenses, one could either be charged with criminal sexual conduct in the first, second or third degree. Similarly, there is a separate section of the law that deals with criminal sexual conduct with a minor—which can also be charged in the first, second or third degree. It will always be prosecuted as a felony, however, so you should not hesitate to speak with a Lexington criminal attorney if you have been charged with a similar offense.

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Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree

Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is a felony that is punishable by imprisonment for 10-30 years—no part of which may be suspended or lessened by probation. Under S.C. Code § 16-3-652, this sex crime is defined as any act in which one person engages in sexual battery with another.

In order for such an act to rise to the level of a first-degree offense one or more of the following conditions must have contributed to the crime:

  • The offender used aggravated force to accomplish sexual battery
  • The victim was subjected to forcible confinement, robbery, burglary or kidnapping
  • The victim was incapacitated through the use of a controlled substance

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second & Third Degree

Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree is a felony that is punishable by imprisonment for 5-20 years—no part of which may be suspended or lessened by probation. Under S.C. Code § 16-3-653, this crime is defined as any act in which one person engages in sexual battery with another through the use of aggravated coercion. This could involve using physical force or threatening injury with a dangerous weapon to accomplish the intended action. When looking at criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, however, S.C. Code § 16-3-654 states that the offender does not need to carry out the assault through aggravating factors. Rather, it must only be shown that a) they have used force or coercion in the absence of aggravating factors or b) they knew or had reason to know that the victim was mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. This is a felony that is punishable by imprisonment for 3-10 years.

Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor

Following the same guidelines as the aforementioned crimes, criminal sexual conduct with a minor is a more specific offense that focuses on the age of the victim. This means that you could be subject to enhanced penalties if are convicted of engaging in unwanted sexual acts with a minor. Under the law, you would be guilty of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree if you have engaged in sexual battery with a) a victim who is less than 11 years old or b) a victim who is less than 16 years old and you have previously been convicted of or plead guilty to an offense that is listed in Section 23-3-430(C).

These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Charged with Rape? Turn to a Lexington Sex Crimes Lawyer for Help.

If you or someone you love has been charged with any form of criminal sexual conduct, it is imperative that you move quickly to secure an aggressive defense. Aside from murder, this is one of the most severely punished forms of crime in South Carolina. For this reason, you should not hesitate to protect your future by retaining the assistance of a Lexington criminal lawyer from the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC as soon as possible.

Get started today by calling our office for a free initial consultation or submit a complimentary case evaluation form to reach us online. From there, our firm will work diligently to develop an effective defense on your behalf.

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