What is a Charge for CSC with a Minor in SC?
Child rape. Those two words are scary together, particularly when you’re accused of it. If you’re facing a CSC with a minor charge, then the rape of a child is exactly what police and prosecutors are saying you did.
CSC stands for criminal sexual conduct. This term essentially means rape because the legal definition requires there to be penetration of the victim. CSC is beyond sexual harassment or even groping. South Carolina laws on CSC apply when the victim is an adult, but CSC with a minor has its own section in the law (SC Code of Laws § 16-3-655).
“Minor” is the legal term for a child. For each degree of charge, a different age for the victim applies. There are particular cutoff points among the charges. For instance, the charge is always in the first degree (the most serious charge) when the victim is under 11 years old.
CSC with a minor, 1st degree
You can be charged with CSC with a minor if one of two descriptions fits your case:
- You engaged in sexual battery of a victim under 11 years old; or
- You engaged in sexual battery of a victim under 16 years old, and you have a prior conviction of a sexual crime outlined in § 23-3-430 (C) or are on the sex offense registry pursuant to § 23-3-430 (D).
Both of these ways to meet a 1st degree charge include the term “sexual battery,” but what does that term actually mean?
According to §16-3-651(h), sexual battery includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of another person's body, except for medically recognized treatment or diagnostic purposes. So what courts call “sexual battery,” everyone else calls rape.
A 1st degree charge is the most serious CSC with a minor charge that can be brought against you, but there are 2nd and 3rd degree charges that should also be taken very seriously when you are the accused.
CSC with a minor, 2nd degree
Second degree charges for CSC with a minor involve children who are a little older than those who are victims in 1st degree cases. There are two ways you can be charged with CSC with a minor, 2nd degree:
- You engage in sexual battery of a victim 14 years old or younger. Remember, a victim younger than 11 pushes the charge up to 1st degree.
- You engage in sexual battery of a victim under 16 but at least 14, and you have authority to coerce the victim. Authority can come through a family relationship, teacher-student relationship, etc. or just by being older than the victim. This charge does not apply when the accused is 18 years old or younger.
There is still one more CSC with a minor charge that can be leveled against you -- 3rd degree.
CSC with a minor, 3rd degree
To be charged with CSC with a minor, 3rd degree, you must be 14 years or older. The victim must be under 16. The 3rd degree charge means the accused "willfully performed lewd or lascivious acts upon the victim for either the accused’s or victim’s sexual gratification." Examples include penetration of the vagina or buttock with hands or fingers and oral sex.
For a 3rd degree charge, the victim is a willing participant, so bringing up the victim’s consent is not a viable defense strategy. This charge is not applicable when the accused is 18 or younger and the victim is 14 or older.
Penalties for CSC with a minor
As you can imagine, the penalties for CSC with a minor are tough:
|1st Degree, victim < 11 yo
||25 years to life in jail
|1st Degree, victim < 11 yo with a prior conviction
||Death penalty or life in jail
|1st Degree, victim < 16 yo
||10 to 30 years in jail
||Up to 20 years in jail
||Up to 15 years in jail and/or a fine at the discretion of the court
A prior conviction related to CSC with a minor can be a South Carolina conviction or an equivalent charge in another state or by the federal government.
When deciding on a sentence, a judge can consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances compel the judge to make the sentence longer, and mitigating circumstances persuade the judge to make the sentence shorter.
Aggravating circumstances that affect sentencing for CSC with a minor include:
- The victim’s resistance was overcome by force
- The victim couldn’t resist because the accused had a weapon
- The victim couldn’t resist because accused used credible threats of immediate bodily harm
- The victim suffers from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents resistance
- The accused has a prior murder conviction
- The accused committed the crime to receive money or something monetarily valuable
- The accused directed the crime to be committed or was directed by someone else as their agent or employee
- The crime was committed by more than one person as one act
- The crime was committed during burglary, kidnapping or human trafficking
Mitigating circumstances that affect sentencing for CSC with a minor include:
- The accused has no significant history of violent crime
- The accused was mentally or emotionally disturbed
- The accused was under duress or domination of another person
- The accused was unable to appreciate the criminality of the act
- The accused’s age or mentality at the time of the crime
- The accused was under 18 at the time of the crime
The legal requirements of the crimes and the sentencing standards are very complex for CSC with a minor. It is normal to have a bunch of questions about your charge.
A few questions about CSC with a minor
So far, the information about CSC with a minor is a lot to take in, and you probably have questions. Here are some of the most common questions my clients ask me about CSC with a minor charges.
1. How does a CSC with a minor charge affect your life?
First of all, the penalties are very tough. Depending on the circumstances, for a CSC with a minor charge, you could spend the rest of your life in jail. And if you do get out, you face the stigma of being convicted of a sex crime. Even if you move away to start a new life, a sex crime conviction can follow you through background checks and registration on sex offender lists.
2. I was convicted of CSC with a minor. Do I have to register as a sex offender?
Most likely, yes. Convictions for CSC in the 1st and 3rd degrees always require registry. Convictions for CSC, 2nd degree, sometimes require registry. See §23-3-430(C)(5).
3. Is CSC with a minor different from a regular CSC charge?
Yes. CSC charges are for crimes committed against adult victims while CSC with a minor charges are committed against juveniles.
Getting help with your CSC with a minor charge
If you’re up against a CSC with a minor charge, you need a criminal defense attorney immediately. Prosecutors are already compiling their case against you, and you need someone on your side working to refute what they’re going to say about you in court. To discuss your case, call Lori Murray at 803-779-4472.
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