Sexual assault in SC has become an increasingly hot topic as victim advocates and the media continue to bring attention to campus rape and sexual misconduct in the military. Criminal sexual conduct (CSC) charges can affect anyone, however. Although sexual assaults are a problem that must be addressed, wrongful allegations of sexual assault are equally harmful to the person who has been accused. Vindictiveness, buyer’s remorse, issues with family, mutual intoxication, and mental illness are just a few of the motivations behind false allegations of rape. Even a false allegation that is later dismissed or results in an acquittal can destroy a person’s reputation and career. In 2015, there were 2,470 arrests for crimes of sexual battery in our state, up nearly nine percent from the year before according to the latest data from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. In addition, law enforcement made 88 arrests for “non-forcible” sexual offenses, such as statutory rape, in 2015. The penalties for CSC in South Carolina can be severe with CSC first degree carrying a potential penalty of up to 30 years in prison. In addition to prison time, all CSC charges require mandatory sex offender registry for life, and some also have a lifetime requirement that the offender wear an ankle monitor. Are you or a loved one facing rape charges in South Carolina? You need to know what you’re up against. Take a moment to learn about CSC charges and penalties in our state.

Top Questions about CSC Charges in South Carolina

1. What is criminal sexual conduct?

Criminal sexual conduct describes sexual battery, which involves penetration of the victim’s body, no matter how slight. In South Carolina, CSC has three levels: CSC first degree, CSC second degree, and CSC third degree. CSC with a minor is a separate crime that also has degrees based on the alleged victim’s age at the time of the offense.

2. Is rape the same as criminal sexual conduct?

CSC means rape, and the terms are used interchangeably.

3. What is attempted criminal sexual conduct?

Attempted CSC is when a person assaults a victim with the intent to rape them. South Carolina law treats attempted CSC the same as if the sexual battery had occurred, and the punishment is whatever the punishment would have been had the rape been completed.

4. What is the difference between 1st-degree, 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct?

The difference between the degrees of CSC charges is the severity of the attack. Other factors also determine the degree of the charges. For example:

1st degree CSC

CSC in the 1st degree involves “aggravated force,” which could mean a sexual battery (rape) that is accomplished by use of aggravated force, kidnapping, or by incapacitating the alleged victim or making them physically helpless. “Aggravated force” means the use of extreme physical force or violence to overpower the victim, or the threat to use a deadly weapon to scare the victim into submission.

2nd degree CSC

CSC in the 2nd degree applies to attacks that include sexual battery and “aggravated coercion.” It applies when an attacker uses threats instead of violence to accomplish the rape. This could mean threats of extreme violence to the victim, as well as threats of retaliation through physical harm, extortion or kidnapping. The threats are considered “aggravated coercion” because of the level of intensity of the violence or retaliation that is threatened.

3rd degree CSC

CSC in the 3rd degree may involve either force or coercion, but does not involve deadly weapons or aggravating circumstances. CSC 3rd degree is often charged when the alleged victim is unable to consent due to intoxication or mental disability.

5. Is rape a felony or misdemeanor?

Rape is always a felony in South Carolina.

6. Can a criminal sexual conduct conviction be expunged?

As a general rule, felonies cannot be expunged in South Carolina. If a conviction is for a non-violent felony and the person is sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act, the conviction could be expunged five years after the completion of the person’s sentence, but most CSC-related offenses will not qualify under the YOA. A CSC arrest may be expunged if the charges are dismissed before trial or if the person is found not guilty at trial.

7. What is the statute of limitations for rape in South Carolina?

South Carolina doesn’t have a statute of limitations for rape or any criminal offenses.

8. What is statutory rape?

Statutory rape is CSC with a minor who legally cannot consent to sex. There are three levels of CSC with a minor, depending on the age of the alleged victim:

  • CSC with a minor in the first degree: younger than 11 years old.
  • CSC with a minor in the second degree: between the ages of 11 and 14.
  • CSC with a minor in the third degree: between the ages of 14 and 16.

9. Will I go to jail if I’m convicted of rape in SC?

  • CSC 1st degree carries a potential penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
  • CSC 2nd degree carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
  • CSC 3rd degree carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

You could be sentenced up to the maximum length of time in prison. Although it is unlikely in a rape case, you could also receive a probationary sentence depending on the degree of the charge and the facts of the case. Regardless of the prison sentence, you will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life and, for some charges, may be required to wear an ankle monitor for the rest of your life.

10. Do I need a lawyer to fight CSC charges?

Criminal sexual conduct in SC is a serious charge, and a conviction leads to severe, life-altering consequences. In addition to the possibility of spending years or even decades in prison, a convicted sex offender may have difficulty finding a job or renting a home. Your name, address, photo, and the crime that you were convicted of will be publicly available online and potential employers, police, and neighbors are going to see it. Winning your case may involve extensive investigation, locating and interviewing potential witnesses, expert witnesses, extensive experience in rape cases, and the ability to effectively try your case to a jury including knowledge of court rules, relevant caselaw, how to exclude evidence, how to admit your evidence, and how to argue a case that involves sensitive issues and possibly a sympathetic victim. You don’t just need a lawyer. You probably do not want to take any chances on this and you probably want to find the best criminal defense lawyer in Myrtle Beach. No attorney can promise you results, and no attorney should claim that they are “the best” at what they do. We can promise you that we will do everything legally and ethically possible to help you and to win your case.

Take Back Control of Your Life. Talk to a Lawyer Who Cares.

Finding the best criminal defense lawyer that you can trust and afford is the first step in handling your criminal sexual conduct charges. Call us right now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to set up a free, confidential consultation.

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