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As far back as preschool, you’ve been told to “keep your hands to yourself.” The rule is logical; people expect a certain amount of control as to who can touch them, when, and under what circumstances.

However, if you struggle with keeping your hands to yourself as a teenager or adult, you could end up on the wrong side of the law.

Touching another person’s “private parts” without his or her consent is illegal in South Carolina. If you find yourself in that situation, you could be charged with sexual assault, which falls under assault & battery charges.

If you or someone you know is facing this type of charge here’s what you need to know…

Sexual Assault Basics

In the South Carolina Code of Laws, 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. However, sexual assault is not the same as rape. In South Carolina rape is known as “criminal sexual conduct.” The law classifies rape as including penetration, whereas sexual assault does not involve penetration.

Assault and Battery Charges

There are four levels of assault and battery charges in South Carolina law, and only two have a sexual component.

● Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature

● 1st degree assault and battery—sexual component

● 2nd degree assault and battery—sexual component

● 3rd degree assault and battery

Let’s break down each of the charges with a sexual component listed above.

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

Since the “legalese” used to describe sexual assault charges can be vague or hard to understand, here are legal definitions of the key terms:

● Private parts: the genitals and buttocks of males and females or the breasts of a female

● Lascivious: indicates sexual interest or expresses lust

● Lewd: obscene or indecent behavior that suggests lust or sexual desire

Penalties for 1st Degree Assault & Battery (Sexual Assault)

A conviction of assault and battery (sexual assault) in the 1st degree can lead to significant jail time.

ChargeFineJail Time
FelonyNoneUp to 10 years

Sexual Assault: 2nd Degree Assault & Battery

The charge of assault & battery (sexual assault) in the 2nd degree is almost identical to the 1st degree sexual assault charge, including:

● Injury to another person unlawfully

● Touching another person’s private parts without consent, either above or beneath the


● Lewd and lascivious intent

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 2nd Degree Assault & Battery (Sexual Assault)

A conviction of 2nd degree assault & battery (sexual assault) can result in a fine, jail time or both.

ChargeFineJail Time
MisdemeanorUp to $2,500Up to 3 years

Sexual Assault Committed With a Weapon

Committing assault & battery(sexual assault) — either 1st or 2nd degree — with a carried or concealed deadly weapon leads to an additional charge. If convicted, you will face a penalty for the concealed weapon charge in addition to the sentence for the sexual assault charge.

Although carrying a concealed weapon is legal in some circumstances according to South Carolina statutes, using a weapon to commit a crime—like sexual assault—is a criminal offense. Additionally, a “deadly weapon” can refer to more than a gun or a knife. Anything that could be used to kill a person counts, including a:

● Baseball bat

● Club

● Monkey wrench

● Pipe

Penalties for Sexual Assault Committed With a Weapon

Sexual assault committed with a weapon involves a separate charge that will be added onto the original sexual assault charge. The sentence for a conviction is in addition to the penalties of the sexual assault sentence. Moreover, the sentence can include a fine, jail time or both.

ChargeFineJail Time
MisdemeanorAt least $200Between 3 to 12 months

Protect your future. Talk to a lawyer today!

An assault & battery (sexual assault) conviction can have serious negative repercussions on the rest of your life. For instance, there is a chance you would have to register as a sex offender, which means you would be limited in where you’re allowed to live.

Have you been charged with sexual assault? Are you worried about your future?

Don’t leave it up to chance. Get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled lawyer will know how to build your case to give you the best chance at a positive outcome.

At Kent Collins Law Firm, our job is to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Reach out to our team through our online form or dial 803-808- 0905. We’ll set you up with a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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