Everyone knows that nonconsensual sexual conduct, like rape and sexual assault, is illegal. You might not know, however, that you can get in trouble for certain consensual sexual activities, as well.
Continue reading for a breakdown of the laws in South Carolina against certain consensual sexual activities.
Sexual Activities Laws
Even some voluntary sexual activities are restricted under state consensual sexual activity laws. These regulations tend to reflect the social norms of particular states at a particular time. In some cases, states still have old prohibited consensual sexual activities laws on the books.
For instance, South Carolina still outlaws sodomy, though anti-sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional in 2003. Under state law, prostitution, lewdness, and indecent exposure are also prohibited. From time to time, some consensual sexual activities are treated as illegal under the state's disorderly conduct statute, as well.
Consensual Sexual Activity Laws in South Carolina
The chart below highlights some of South Carolina's prohibited consensual sexual activity laws.
Sodomy Laws Applicable to
Although these laws may no longer be used to criminalize sodomy between consenting adults, they still criminalize a sexual behavior that falls within the scope of sodomy. Referred to as "buggery," this crime pertains to the sexual penetration of animals.
Penalty for Sodomy
Under South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-120, sodomy or buggery is treated as a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $500 (at a minimum).
HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders
Under South Carolina Code of Laws 44-29-145, knowingly exposing others to the HIV virus is treated as a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Under South Carolina Code of Laws 16-3-740, a court may order HIV testing of an offender upon the victim's request. Probable cause that the offender committed the crime must be present, while bodily fluids must also have been transmitted.
Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts
Under South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-90, prostitution and lewdness are criminal offenses and treated as misdemeanors
Under South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-130, indecent exposure is a criminal offense and treated as a misdemeanor.
Age of Consent
|Under South Carolina Code of Laws 16-3-655, the age of consent is 16 years of age.
Although state authorities are generally hesitant to prosecute what happens in a private space, South Carolina law does prohibit public indecency and some private acts, as well.
These laws outlaw everything from flashing and public sex to even non-public lewdness, “house[s] of ill fame," and bawdyhouse[s]." The indecent exposure statute does have specific language protecting a mother's right to breastfeed a child in any place the mother has a right to be. There are also penalties for knowingly exposing others to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
South Carolina Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws: Related Resources
As noted above, state sex laws can evolve along with our social attitudes regarding sex. For more articles and resources on this topic, you can also visit FindLaw's Sex Crimes section. If you have been charged with a sex crime or if you need legal assistance with a sex crime matter, you can contact a South Carolina criminal defense attorney.