If you have been charged with a sex crime in Columbia, SC, your freedom and reputation are at stake. A sex crimes conviction could result in a long jail sentence, and your life will never return to what it was before.
Being accused of a sex crime is extremely difficult and stressful, and you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. The first place that you should look is to an experienced criminal sexual conduct defense lawyer. The Columbia criminal defense attorneys at Shealey Law Firm will protect your rights while your case proceeds through the system. Call us today to speak to a lawyer.
Examples of Sex Crime Charges and the Potential Penalties They Carry
Most sex crimes in South Carolina will be punished with a jail sentence. The length of the sentence depends on the offense and the degree.
Potential sex crimes charges in South Carolina include:
First-degree criminal sexual conduct
Sexual battery with aggravating factors, such as the use of a weapon or kidnapping the victim; jail sentence of up to 30 years
Second-degree sexual conduct
Sexual battery through the use of aggravated coercion; jail sentence of up to 20 years
Third-degree sexual conduct
The use of force to commit sexual battery or doing so when the victim was incapacitated or helpless; jail sentence of up to ten years
Criminal sexual conduct with a minor
There are three degrees of this offense, depending on the age of the minor, what the accused did and prior criminal history. A conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor will mean a sentence of up to 30 years, with a mandatory minimum of ten years.
Assault with intent to commit a sexual act
The accused had the intent to commit criminal sexual conduct, took an overt step towards the act but failed to complete it. There is no difference in punishment between a conviction for intent and if the defendant actually succeeded in committing the act. The fact that the assault did not result in the actual sexual act will not reduce the sentence
Sexual exploitation of a minor
Various acts to record and disseminate material with live sexual activity involving or minor or a picture depicting sexual activity. Each conviction would result in jail time, regardless of the degree. First degree sexual exploitation of a minor will mean a jail sentence of up to 20 years with a mandatory minimum of three years.
Some sex crimes, such as first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, will carry a mandatory minimum sentence. The judge will have a wide degree of discretion in handing down the actual sentence. Each case will have its own mitigating and aggravating factors.
If you have been convicted of a sex crime, it would be up to your attorney to make the strongest possible case for a lesser sentence.
The Ongoing Consequences of a Sex Crimes Conviction in South Carolina
Even after completing a sentence, one will continue to face consequences for years to come. In South Carolina, convicted sex offenders are required to register with the government.
There is a public database that allows everyone to see all sex offenders, including where they live and work. The most serious crimes mean that the sex offender will remain on the registry for at least 30 years.
In addition, a conviction could leave you ineligible to work in certain professions. Employers and landlords would be able to see a conviction through a background check. Thus, you could be severely limited in where you can work or live.
Defenses You Can Use to Fight Sex Crimes Charges
When you have been charged with a sex crime, the law says that you are innocent until proven guilty. As much as you feel that the legal process is prejudging your case, it is the prosecutor who must meet their burden of proof.
Your attorney would review your case for possible defenses that could help you fight the charges against you. Potential defenses could include:
- You have been incorrectly identified as the perpetrator
- The sexual act was consensual
- What happened did not meet the elements of the offense
- You have an alibi that places you elsewhere when the incident happened
Many people think that being under the influence at the time of the incident could be a defense. However, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to sex crimes charges.
Here are some defense strategies that an attorney may use in your case:
- Scrutinizing and casting doubt about the physical evidence in your case; many sex crime cases rely on DNA evidence, and the evidence may have been impermissibly gathered or kept.
- Present evidence of your good character — helpful when it is someone else’s word against yours
- Build up your own credibility through evidence and your testimony
- Examine the motive and credibility of the alleged victim
- Moving to suppress any evidence that was illegally seized
Alternatively, your lawyer could negotiate with the prosecutor for you to be charged with a lesser offense or to receive a lighter recommended sentence.
Each sex crimes case stands on its own. There is nothing that obligates you to testify. Your attorney may wait to see whether the prosecution has made a strong case before giving you advice about whether to testify. An experienced sex crimes defense attorney at our Columbia law firm will be able to assess each situation to know the most effective defense strategy.
Reach Out to a Columbia Sex Crimes Attorney Today
No matter the charges, Shealey Law Firm believes that every defendant deserves the strongest possible legal defense, no matter the allegations. We will represent you in a judgment-free manner that focuses on protecting your rights.
If you have been arrested, or learn that law enforcement is investigating you, it is critical that you speak with an attorney immediately. You should call us at 803-590-3917 or fill out an online contact form to reach a lawyer. We will get back to you promptly for your free initial consultation.