Are you here because you're curious about your legal options after you or a loved one was sexually assaulted or abused? You may be looking for answers to difficult questions like:
- What type of prison sentence does the abuser face?
- Can third parties be held liable for enabling sexual predators?
- Do we need to talk to a lawyer?
- How can filing a lawsuit help our family find justice?
Our South Carolina sexual abuse victims' lawyers can help your family find answers in the aftermath of a sexual crime.
We've seen first-hand how the criminal court system fails survivors of sexual crimes. That's why we're proud to help them in civil court.
"Outstanding." We felt like the police didn't care, but Brian and his partners were there for us.
Victims of sexual crimes often wonder how their attacker may be punished by their state’s criminal justice system. If you’ve recently survived one of these crimes in South Carolina, you can find summaries of the state’s main sexual assault and child sexual abuse laws below. But be aware that these laws change often.
South Carolina Criminal Laws On Sexual Offenses
Many victims may not realize that criminal courts only handle one aspect of justice for victims. These courts fill the necessary role of taking dangerous sexual predators out of their communities before they can victimize other innocent people, but they do little to directly assist the victims of these crimes. In order for victims to find the support they need, it’s often necessary to file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Civil lawsuits have significant advantages for survivors, including:
- The option to sue negligent third parties (like youth organizations) for enabling sexual abuse
- The ability to hold perpetrators accountable even without a criminal conviction
- Financial compensation for economic and noneconomic losses related to sexual abuse
If you want to get a better idea of what type of punishment your assaulter may face or learn more about your options in civil court, our South Carolina sexual abuse victims’ rights lawyers can help you learn more in a free consultation.
In South Carolina, most sexual crimes involve a term known as sexual battery. Sexual battery is defined as sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal intercourse, or any intrusion of any part of another person’s body (including with objects).
Criminal Sexual Conduct With A Minor
Crimes of child sexual abuse are classified into one of three degrees of severity of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in South Carolina:
A person is guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct of a minor if he or she commits sexual battery against a victim who is younger than 11 years old, or younger than 16 years old when the offender is a previous sex offender.
If the victim is younger than 11 years old, this crime is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. If the offender has a previous conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 11 years old, he or she will be punished by death or life in prison.
If the victim is older than 11 but younger than 16 and the offender is a previous sex offender, the sentence will be 10-30 years in prison.
Someone can be convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor if he or she commits sexual battery under either of the following circumstances:
- The victim is 11-14 years old; or
- The victim is 14-15 years old and the offender is in a position of familial, custodial, or official authority and uses this position to coerce the victim to submit.
This crime is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
A person will be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct of a minor if he or she is at least 14 years old and commits or attempts to commit a lewd or lascivious act upon the body of a child under 16 years old with a sexual intent. There is an exception if the person is younger than 18 and the minor in question is at least 14 years old.
This crime is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Felony Sexual Battery With A Student
Felony sexual battery with a student is defined as follows:
- A person officially affiliated with a public or private secondary school engaging in sexual battery with a student enrolled at the school who is 16-17 years old
- A person affiliated with a public or private secondary school engages in sexual battery with a student they have supervisory authority over (even if the student is 18 years or older)
This felony is punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Misdemeanor Sexual Battery With A Student
Any school official who engages in sexual battery with any student who is 18 years of age or older is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery with a student. This crime is punishable with a maximum 30-day sentence and a $500 fine.
Criminal Sexual Conduct
In South Carolina, sexual crimesagainst adults are generally classified as one of three degrees of criminal sexual conduct:
A person is guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct if he or she engages in sexual battery under any of the following circumstances:
- When the offender uses aggravated force to accomplish the sexual battery
- The victim submits to sexual battery as the victim of forcible confinement, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, robbery, extortion, burglary, housebreaking, or any other similar offense
- The offender causes the victim to become mentally incapacitated or physically helpless through the use of a controlled or intoxicating substance.
This felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
A person is guilty of second-degree criminal sexual conduct if he or she commits sexual battery through the use of aggravated coercion. Punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges apply in situations where an offender commits sexual battery and:
- Uses force or coercion to commit the crime in the absence of aggravated circumstances, or
- Knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and aggravated force or coercion was not used to commit the crime
This felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Spousal Sexual Battery
In South Carolina, sexual crimes between married people are prosecuted as spousal sexual battery. A person can be charged with this crime if he or she commits sexual battery against their spouse through the use of aggravated force.
In order to enforce this law, the alleged sexual battery must be reported to law enforcement within 30 days.
This felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.