Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC)
Criminal sexual conduct - CSC or rape - is a serious allegation that can destroy a person's reputation even when the accusation is untrue.
Once a person has been labeled as a sex offender, the stigma is hard to shake and can affect their family, their job, their ability to find employment in the future, and their reputation in the community and among friends.
If you are convicted, the penalties are harsh and may involve mandatory minimum sentences, lifetime sex offender registration, and lifetime GPS monitoring (ankle bracelet).
Defending any CSC allegations requires an independent investigation by your SC criminal defense lawyer to discover:
- Whether the alleged victim has made similar allegations in the past;
- Whether there are mental health issues that may have resulted in false allegations;
- Whether the alleged victim has been arrested in the past;
- Any motivation that the alleged victim has to lie about the incident (boyfriend, husband, parents, grudge); and
- Any witnesses that may support your defense to the crime.
An effective defense to any rape allegations may require one or more private investigators to assist in the defense investigation. It may also require one or more expert witnesses like a crime scene analyst to review the state’s forensic evidence or a doctor who can review the results of the rape kit and testify at your trial.
Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) charges in SC include rape allegations where the alleged victim is an adult, CSC with a minor charges (statutory rape), and attempted CSC charges.
CSC in the 1st degree is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and, as is the case with any sex offense, a person who is convicted must register as a sex offender for the rest of their life.
First degree CSC is where:
- Aggravated, physical force is used to accomplish the rape;
- The rape is accompanied by forcible confinement, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, extortion, housebreaking, or any other similar offense or act; or
- The alleged victim is drugged and incapacitated without their consent.
CSC in the 2nd degree is where aggravated coercion, or threats to use force or violence of a high and aggravated nature, is used to accomplish a rape. Second degree CSC is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
CSC in the 3rd degree is where:
- Coercion or force is used in the absence of aggravating circumstances; or
- The actor knows or has reason to know that the alleged victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally defective, or physically helpless.
CSC in the third degree is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Assault with intent to commit CSC carries the same sentence as if the rape had occurred.
CSC with a minor charges are investigated and prosecuted aggressively in SC by professionals - including investigators, child therapists, and prosecutors - who may work exclusively on these type of cases.
Whether guilty or innocent, an accusation of child sexual abuse or child molestation can destroy a person’s family, reputation, and career, and the effects of the defendant’s arrest and prosecution on the child victim can also have lasting consequences.
The penalties for a conviction are severe and include the death penalty in some CSC 1st degree cases – a statutory provision that was passed by the SC legislature shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court held that similar sentences were unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
CSC with a minor offenses do not require forcible rape, lack of consent, or even proof that the defendant knew the alleged victim’s age.
CSC with a Minor 1st degree is where a person “engages in sexual battery” with a child who is:
- Less than 11 years old (a potential sentence of a minimum 25 years in prison up to life in prison); or
- Less than 16 years old if the defendant has prior convictions that require sex offender registry (a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to 30 years in prison).
If the defendant has a prior conviction for CSC with a minor first degree, SC law says the penalty is death – that provision is unconstitutional and I haven’t yet seen a case where the state sought the death penalty for CSC with a minor 1st degree.
CSC with a Minor 2nd degree is where a person “engages in sexual battery” with a child who is:
- Between the ages of 11 and 14; or
- Between the ages of 14 and 16 if the defendant is older than the alleged victim or is in a position of authority that would allow them to coerce the alleged victim.
CSC with a minor 2nd degree also contains a “Romeo provision” - if the defendant was 18 years old or younger, the alleged victim was 14 years old or older, and the sex was consensual, the defendant cannot be convicted of CSC with a minor.
Second degree CSC with a minor has a potential sentence of up to 20 years.
CSC with a minor 3rd degree applies when the defendant is older than 14 and the alleged victim is between the ages of 14 and 16.
Third degree CSC with a minor does not require proof of a “sexual battery” like 2nd and 1st degree charges – instead, the statute requires proof of “a lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body, or its parts… with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of the actor or the child.”
CSC with a minor 3rd degree also contains a “Romeo provision” - - if the defendant was 18 years old or younger, the alleged victim was 14 years old or older, and the sex was consensual, the defendant cannot be convicted of CSC with a minor.
Third degree CSC with a minor has a potential sentence of up to 15 years.
If you have been charged with any type of criminal sexual conduct in SC, the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm will fight to protect your rights, your reputation, and your freedom. We will review the state's evidence, review medical records, and help you to retain the right experts and investigators to ensure that you have the best defense that we can possibly provide.
If you have been accused of sexual assault in Horry County, Richland County, or Lexington County, call the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or contact us online to find out how we can help.