Criminal Charges can Stem from College Sexual Assault Claims
In recent weeks, national attention has focused on changes to Title IX policies regarding how college campuses should handle sexual assault allegations. These new policies aim to preserve the rights of those students accused of sexual assault, which may lead students to believe that they may not face such serious consequences for acts of sexual misconduct on campus. However, it is important to realize that these policies only apply to the internal investigations and hearings within the college or university administration, and that other harsh consequences could result from such allegations outside of school.
You may think that campus sexual assault cases will be kept on campus and that the worst penalties may be suspension or expulsion from school. While expulsion and suspension are serious, you may face even greater penalties if you are criminally charged with sexual assault in South Carolina.
If the authorities learn of sexual allegations and the prosecutor’s office believes that there is enough evidence to support the allegations, you can be arrested and charged in state criminal court. These proceedings will be completely separate from any proceedings that take place at your college or university, and the penalties will be considered separately. It is critical that you are represented by a skilled criminal defense lawyer if you are facing these serious charges.
South Carolina criminal law makes it illegal to engage in sexual contact—including touching—against the will of the victim. “Sexual battery” refers to forcing sexual intercourse, penetration—no matter how slight—of another person, or oral sex on another person without proper consent. A person can be charged with various degrees of criminal sexual conduct depending on the circumstances of the sexual battery, though all are felony charges.
- Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree - Occurs when a sexual battery involves aggravated force or is part of another crime, such as kidnapping, robbery, or burglary. This charge also applies if a sexual battery occurs after a victim is involuntarily rendered incapacitated, such as by drugs. This can lead to as many as 30 years in prison.
Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree - Occurs when aggravated coercion was used to commit sexual battery. A conviction can mean as many as 20 years in prison.
- Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree - Occurs when sexual battery involves coercion or force without aggravating circumstances, or when the victim of sexual battery is known to be mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. This can mean as many as 10 years in prison.
Find out How a Columbia, South Carolina, Criminal Defense Attorney Can Assist You Today
As you can see, allegations of sexual assault on campus can lead to serious criminal charges. The good news is that a skilled criminal defense lawyer can defend against such allegations and ensure your rights are protected. Please call the Law Offices of Lori S. Murray if you have been arrested or accused of any type of crime. Do not wait to call today at (803) 779-4472 or contact the office online.