South Carolina Marital Rape Laws

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Just like rape between strangers or acquaintances, marital rape—rape that occurs between spouses—is illegal in South Carolina, and punished as a felony. However, the reporting requirements are different, as explained below.

To learn more about assault laws in South Carolina, see South Carolina Sexual Battery Laws.

Marital Rape

In South Carolina, marital rape (also known as “spousal sexual battery”) occurs when one spouse (the defendant) sexually batters the other spouse (the victim) while using aggravated force or threat of such force. Aggravated physical force includes a weapon, physical force, or extreme physical violence.

In contrast to other states, South Carolina requires the victim must to report the offense within 30 days for the defendant spouse to be prosecuted for the crime. However, this requirement does not apply to spouses who are not living together at the time of the crime.

The punishment for rape may be the same for spouses who rape as for other offenders, but it may also be more difficult for the victim to prove that she didn’t consent to her husband than it would be to prove non-consent with a stranger. (S.C. Code of Laws § 16-3-615.)

Penalties

The penalty for spousal sexual battery includes up to ten years in prison. (S.C. Code of Laws § 16-3-615.)

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a sexual battery charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. Numerous defenses apply to charges of felony battery and a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer’s skillful negotiation with the prosecutor can sometimes result in a reduction of charges or a reduction in penalties, such as less prison time, no prison time, and probation. A local criminal defense attorney, who knows how the prosecutors and judges involved in your case typically handle such cases, can assist with these negotiations. And if you decide to go to trial, having a good lawyer on your side will be essential.

Help for Sexual Abuse and Rape Survivors

If you are a victim of sexual abuse or rape, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Online Hotline for help and local resources.

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