A Sexual Assault Charge Can Cost You More than Your Freedom
Being charged with sexual assault is a humiliating experience that can destroy relationships, ruin employment prospects, and inflict irreparable damage on an individual’s reputation. Even if the charges are ultimately dismissed, individuals accused of sex crimes are often permanently ostracized.
If convicted, offenders face fines, prison time, and registration as a sex offender. Due to the stigma attached to the sex offender registry, a conviction can impact your life forever. Because the penalties for sexual assault are so personally, financially, and emotionally damaging, your lawyer must be prepared to aggressively defend you from arrest to trial.
South Carolina Sexual Assault Defined
Like many other states, South Carolina has abandoned the traditional definition of rape. The modern South Carolina penal code defines non-consensual sexual intercourse as a form of assault known as “sexual assault.” When the accused and the victim are closely related, sexual assault is a first degree felony, which involves a prison sentence ranging between five and 99 years. Additionally, the court can also impose a maximum fine of $10,000. In cases where the parties are not related, offenders face a second degree felony, which is punishable by a prison term lasting between two and 20 years as well as a discretionary fine up to $10,000.
The sexual assault statute also includes a provision for “statutory rape”, which is sexual intercourse with a child age 17 or under. Unlike sexual assault that involves an adult victim, statutory rape does not address the element of consent. This means that consensual sexual intercourse with a child is a punishable offense.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Under certain circumstances, a sex crime is prosecuted under a more serious criminal charge known as “aggravated sexual assault.” Sexual assault that involves a weapon, places the victim in fear for her life, involves a controlled substance known as a “date rape drug”, or is perpetrated upon a very young or very elderly victim is considered aggravated sexual assault. If you are charged with aggravated sexual assault, you will be prosecuted under a first degree felony.
False Allegations Are Not Uncommon
Accusing someone of sexual assault is a serious matter. Unfortunately, innocent people can find themselves wrongfully accused of a sex crime. It is not uncommon for sexual assault allegations to surface in contested divorce cases.
In other cases, pregnant teens accuse a boyfriend of sexual assault rather than admit to engaging in premarital sex. If you are a victim of false charges, you need a committed criminal defense lawyer prepared to fight for justice. I will thoroughly examine the evidence in your case to determine the most effective way to contest the charges against you.