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What are some possible defenses against a sexual assault charge?

Sex-related crimes of all sorts are not taken lightly in South Carolina. Those who are accused of such crimes may feel that there is little they can do to fight the charges in court. The simple truth is, however, that various criminal defenses do exist for all types of crimes. This week's column will address possible criminal defenses for those facing sexual assault charges.

When it comes to sexual assault cases, there are three common defenses strategies: innocence, consent and insanity. The first one, innocence, is pretty straightforward. The accused will claim that he or she did not commit the act of which he or she is accused. In order for this defense to be successful, the accused must be able to provide a credible alibi or other evidence that he or she did not commit the crime.

The second defense strategy, consent, can be challenging to prove and cannot be used in certain cases -- such as those involving minors. To prove consent, it is often necessary to dig through the victim's sexual history. If it is possible to show that the alleged victim -- if of consenting age -- did agree to the sexual contact or has a history of doing so, the charges against the accused may be dropped.

Finally, the last defense strategy, insanity or mental incapacity, can be very effective if there is evidence that the accused does suffer from some form of mental defect or disease. This typically requires a medical or psychological diagnosis. If that can be achieved, and a lack of understanding established, charges may be dismissed or reduced.

Sexual assault is a serious crime and will be treated as such in court. This does not mean that anyone charged with this type of crime should expect a conviction. South Carolina residents are guaranteed the right to defend themselves in criminal court with the assistance of legal counsel.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Assault Defenses", Accessed on Jan. 29, 2017

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