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Victims of sexual assault do not often speak up for certain reasons. And though they have legal rights whenever they do, there are also specific procedures they must follow to properly report their assault. 

Criminal charges for sexual assault are serious, and their repercussions can threaten a person’s livelihood and future. With that in mind, if you’re facing charges for a sex crime, do not hesitate to consult with a criminal defense attorney to begin working on your case right away. 

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault entails sexual acts performed through force or coercion and thus without the victim’s consent. 

In South Carolina, a person can either be charged with criminal sexual conduct or sexual assault and battery, depending on the circumstances. If you’re charged with either offense, it’s important to seek legal assistance. These charges are serious, and their consequences can be life-altering. Penalties can include fines, prison time, and registration as a sex offender.

Legal Rights Under Sexual Assault Laws

Under South Carolina’s Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights Act, victims of sexual assault have the right to do the following:

  • Consult with a victim advocate and have them present during physical and medical evidentiary examinations, interviews, and depositions
  • Receive free forensic medical examinations, whether they choose to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with police
  • Have an attorney present during every investigation, interview, deposition, or interaction with representatives of the legal system
  • Receive protection from the alleged perpetrator and anyone acting on behalf of that individual 
  • Be heard via a survivor impact statement at any sentencing or other proceeding where the survivor’s rights are at issue

Additionally, victims of sexual assault have the right to report their incidents and can choose whether to remain anonymous.

Reporting Procedures After Sexual Assault Incidents

Procedures for reporting an act of sexual assault will ultimately depend on the situation. For example, if a sexual assault occurs in the workplace or on a school campus, the company or institution may have its own procedures for reporting the incident. 

Additionally, sexual assault victims can report the crime to law enforcement, either by calling 911 or visiting a local law enforcement precinct. Officers will question the victim to gather information concerning the reported perpetrator and event. Prosecutors can later use that information if charges are brought against the perpetrator.

If the sexual assault was a recent event, victims can also submit to medical testing to obtain forensic evidence, like DNA. Law enforcement can also survey the crime scene to gather further evidence, if possible. 

Time Limits for Sexual Assault Cases

South Carolina does not have a statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual assault crimes. However, if victims wish to pursue justice through a civil case, there are strict time limits for such matters.

In South Carolina, victims of sexual assault have three years to take civil legal action against a perpetrator for damages. However, a victim may be afforded more time based on the specifics of their case, including whether they were a minor at the time of the incident. 

Getting Help From a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re accused of sexual assault and face criminal charges, do not wait to seek legal representation from a South Carolina criminal defense lawyer. They will be able to help you understand your rights and the charges brought against you. They’ll then investigate your case and create a strong defense on your behalf.The Law Office of Mo Abusaft has extensive experience representing clients charged with sex crimes. We proudly serve clients in Spartanburg, SC, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to get started.