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South Carolina Sex Offenses and Why They are Different

Sex offenses in South Carolina are crimes that involve sex-related conduct. Individuals convicted of sex offenses in a state court may face punishment including incarceration and payment of fines, depending on the gravity of the crime committed. Sex offenders may also be subject to various restrictions in the state to protect the general public.

What is a South Carolina Sex Crime?

Sex crimes under the South Carolina Code of Laws are criminal sexual conduct that carries severe penalties. Sex crimes involve the use of physical violence/force, use of weapons or threats to use them, harassments, and the display of unlawful sexual materials. Sex offenses also include the engagement of sexual activities with persons who are mentally incapacitated to control and assess their conduct, physically helpless individuals who are unable to communicate effectively, and minors. The state laws classify most sex offenses as felonies.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses?

Sex offenses in South Carolina are grouped into various degrees, depending on the severity of criminal sexual conduct. These categories are:

Criminal sexual conduct in the first degree: This occurs when the offender engages in forceful sexual battery with a person. Also, if the victim is forced to engage in the act due to being kidnapped, trafficked, robbed, or in similar situations. Individuals are also guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree if they cause the victim to become mentally or physically helpless by giving them a controlled or intoxicating substance against their will. This is a class A felony that carries a penalty of incarceration not more than thirty years.

Criminal sexual conduct in the second degree: This is a class C felony offense that involves an individual using force or violence of a high and aggravated nature to engage in sexual battery with a victim. Persons who commit criminal sexual conduct in the second degree can be sentenced to a jail term up to twenty years, under Section 16–3–653.

Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree: A person is culpable of this offense if they commit sexual battery by using force or coercion without aggravation and also aware that the victim is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. This offense is a class E felony that is punishable by incarceration of not more than ten years.

Criminal sexual conduct with a minor (first degree): This involves an offender engaging in sexual battery with a victim under eleven years of age. Also, if a victim is not more than sixteen years old and the accused is a registered sex offender pursuant to Section 23–3–430. Individuals convicted of such offense face a minimum of twenty-five years of imprisonment to life imprisonment without probation. Criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree is a class A felony offense.

Criminal sexual conduct with a minor (second degree): This involves the offender performing a sexual battery act on a victim who is between the ages of eleven to fourteen. Individuals are also guilty of this offense if they are in a position of official authority or family ties that they can use to force the victim to engage in the sexual battery. This offense is a class C felony punishable by a jail term that may be up to twenty years.

Criminal sexual conduct with a minor (third degree): An individual is guilty of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the third degree if they are above fourteen years of age and they perform or attempt to perform a sexual act upon or with a minor aged fifteen years old and below. The offenders must commit the act with the intention to stimulate the sexual desires of themselves or the victims. This offense carries a penalty of not more than fifteen years of imprisonment and a possible fine.

Sex Offender Levels of Classification in South Carolina

The classification of sex offenders usually depends on their risk level of reoffense. In South Carolina, there are no specific laws concerning the classification levels of sex offenders. However, the state complies with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) tiering of sex offenders into three categories:

  • Tier I: Sex offenders grouped under this category have a low-risk level of repeating their offense. Information on such offenders is available to the public. They are required to register as a sex offender twice every year, for life.
  • Tier II: This tier classification is for offenders that possess a moderate risk level. The state also mandates sex offenders under this category to register as a sex offender biannually, for life.
  • Tier III: This tier has the highest risk level of reoffense. Details of sex offenders that fall under this tier are disclosed to the public and such offenders have to register every ninety days.

How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in South Carolina?

Individuals residing in South Carolina can lookup sex offenders in their geographical area through the following methods:

  • Law Enforcement Agency: Generally, sex offenders in South Carolina are required to register with the Sheriff of the county where they reside. Interested individuals may visit their local law enforcement offices to retrieve information on sex offenders within their county area.
  • South Carolina Sex Offender Registry: The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is responsible for collating and managing a sex offender registry in the state. Following the state laws, offenders’ information is accessible to members of the general public via the available platforms provided by the SLED.

South Carolina Sex Offender Registry

Article 7 of Title 23 of South Carolina Code of Laws mandates a lifetime registry for sex offenders with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Sex offenders are required to register twice a year with the Sheriff in their county area. However, persons that fall under tier III of the sex offender classification must register every ninety days. SLED provides access to the South Carolina sex offender registry online. Interested persons may perform a name search or location search for sex offenders in the state. Details of registered offenders that are disclosed on the registry include:

  • Sex offense(s) committed by the offender
  • Name of offender including aliases
  • The address of the offender’s workplace
  • A recent picture of the offender
  • Physical attributes
  • The offender’s residential address
  • Vehicle license plate number

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, sex offenders cannot live within a thousand feet of school institutions, daycare centers, public parks or, playgrounds if they have been convicted of any degree of criminal sexual conduct with a minor or the kidnapping/trafficking of persons aged seventeen and below. If a person that is required to register changes their place of residence, they are mandated to send a written notice to the county sheriff within three days.

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