Crimes against children are certainly a serious matter which are not taken lightly by South Carolina law enforcement and court officials. Sexual contact with a minor, even if both parties consented to the act, is considered a serious offense. If this activity is suspected, a statutory rape charge may be filed if the minor is below the state's legal age of consent.
Statutory rape is defined as sexual relations with an individual who is not of age to give consent. In South Carolina that age is 16 years old. However, individuals as young as 14 can give consent if their partner is 18 years old or younger. While rape charges are typically associated with forced sexual activity, statutory rape does not have a force requirement.
The charges for statutory rape can range from misdemeanors to felonies, and the punishments associated with a conviction also vary in their severity. The level at which the offense is categorized is typically determined by the age of the victim, the age of the perpetrator and any other contributing factors deemed relevant to the case. Punishments may include a mandatory jail or prison sentence, fines, court ordered treatment and may require registration on the Sex Offender Registry.
A statutory rape charge often presents with a unique set of challenges that must be handled in a delicate way. South Carolina residents confronted with these accusations face consequences that can negatively alter the course of their future. A strategic criminal defense may assist in successfully fighting these allegations, or work toward minimizing the severity of any punishment handed down if a conviction is ultimately secured.
Source: FindLaw, "Statutory Rape", , Sept. 12, 2014