Sexual Assault Lawyer - Kent Collins Law FirmServing Aiken, Newberry, Lexington, Columbia SC
You didn’t realize you would be charged with sexual assault.
It may have been a mistake. Maybe you didn’t mean what happened.
Perhaps you misread the signals, and you thought your actions were consensual.
Regardless of how it happened, you need a sexual assault lawyer to fight your sexual assault charges. Otherwise, you’re likely facing stiff fines and penalties, jail time and a criminal record that will affect your future for years to come.
So, where should you start?
These types of charges do need to be taken seriously. They come with harsh penalties and an even harsher stigma. Your reputation and relationship with your family can be damaged. A conviction can even hurt your chances of getting a job in the future.
First of all, don’t lose hope. Know that there are defenses to sexual assault charges. It is possible to beat these charges!
Which defenses that may apply to you depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. An experienced sexual assault lawyer can go over your case and analyze if a defense is available to you.
Understanding the Charges Being Brought Against You
What you need next is some basic information on sexual assault charges so you can wrap your head around what is happening to you.
There are 2 main charges we are talking about when we say “sexual assault” — assault & battery of a sexual nature and criminal sexual conduct.
Let’s take each one alone and go over the basics next.
Sexual Assault (Assault & Battery)
In SC, sexual assault charges fall under the category of “assault and battery.” In general, assault and battery charges describe situations in which an individual unlawfully injures or attempts to injure another person. The sexual assault component is added when there’s a sexual nature to the behavior.
Sexual Assault (1st Degree Assault & Battery)
Sexual assault in the 1st degree involves a few different factors on the part of the perpetrator:
- Unlawfully injures another person
- Nonconsensual touching of another person’s private parts
- Touching occurs either above or beneath the clothing
- Lewd and lascivious intent
The penalties for a conviction are harsh. 1st degree assault and battery is a felony and can carry up to 10 years in jail.
Sexual Assault (2nd Degree Assault & Battery)
The charge of sexual assault in the 2nd degree is almost identical to the 1st degree sexual assault charge, including all the components just listed above.
However, 2nd degree sexual assault includes another component. Specifically, a 2nd degree charge also applies to attempted sexual assault and “offers” to sexually assault an individual.
Penalties for a 2nd degree assault and battery conviction (a misdemeanor) include a fine up to $2,500 and jail time of up to 3 years. You may get sentenced to just the fine, just the jail time, or both!
Criminal Sexual Conduct, commonly known as “CSC”
Criminal Sexual Conduct is also known as CSC in South Carolina. It is more commonly referred to as “rape.” There are 3 CSC charges — 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree.
1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
You may be charged with 1st degree CSC when the actor engaged in sexual battery with another person and one of the following circumstances is present:
- The actor used aggravated force to accomplish the sexual battery;
- The victim of the sexual battery is also the victim of kidnapping, trafficking in persons, burglary, or a similar offense;
- The actor, without the victim’s consent, gives the victim a controlled or intoxicating substance causing the victim to become mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
2nd degree CSC occurs when aggravated coercion is used by the actor to accomplish the sexual battery.
“Aggravated coercion” simply means that the threat of force or violence is used to overcome the victim or another person. The victim has to reasonably believe that the actor can actually carry out the threat of harm. It doesn’t have to be immediate; it can be a threat of violence sometime in the future.
3rd Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
CSC in the 3rd degree involves the actor engaging in sexual battery with the victim in addition to another factor, including:
- The use of force or coercion is used to accomplish sexual battery, but no other aggravating circumstance are present;
- The victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless and the actor knows or has reason to know this fact. Also, the use of aggravated force or aggravated coercion was not present in the commission of the sexual battery.
Section 16-3-655(E)(2)(a) of the SC Code includes a complete list of all aggravating circumstances referenced above, but a few of them are:
- The victim’s resistance was overcome by force.
- The victim was prevented from resisting the act because the actor was armed with a dangerous weapon.
- The crime was committed by a person with a prior conviction for murder.
You may be wondering, “What’s the real difference between Sexual Assault and CSC?”
Sexual assault is not the same as criminal sexual conduct. The law classifies CSC/rape as including penetration, whereas sexual assault does not involve penetration.
Also, there isn’t an “attempted CSC.” Attempted CSC would most likely fall under assault and battery, as a degree of sexual assault.
Do you need help with your criminal charges?
What to look for in a sexual assault lawyer:
- Someone you can trust. These types of charges can be delicate. You need someone you feel comfortable confiding in, even when the facts of the case get hard to talk about. Kent Collins regularly handles sexual assault cases and understands the unique difficulty they can bring.
- Someone with experience. Sexual assault charges are taken very seriously by prosecutors. You need an attorney who knows what they are doing and how to go about defending you. Kent Collins has over 15 years of combined experience as a criminal defense attorney, a former prosecutor and working in other areas of the judicial system.
- Someone who will tell it to you straight. You need to have an accurate picture of what is going on with your case — even if things aren’t looking so great. Kent Collins prides himself on being a straight-shooter. He will tell you the good and the bad. You deserve to know the truth!
- Someone who will take the time to make you and your family feel comfortable. Dealing with this situation is not easy. You need someone who truly cares about you and will find time to make you and your family a priority. Kent Collins always puts his clients first. He knows this process is hard on you and your family and does everything he can to make it easier for you.
Kent represents people facing charges in Aiken, Newberry, Lexington or Columbia, SC. If you’re looking for a defense attorney who puts your best interest at heart, has defended clients from criminal charges of all kinds, including sexual assault and criminal sexual conduct, dial 803-808-0985 or click here to send us an email.