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South Carolina Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

Everyone knows that “No” means no, and that nonconsensual sex like rape and sexual assault are against the law. But can you get in trouble for consensual sexual activity when everyone says “Yes?” Here are the basics of prohibited consensual sexual activity laws in South Carolina.

Sexual Activities Laws

Even some voluntary sexual activities are restricted under state consensual sexual activity laws. These regulations tend reflect the social norms of particular states at a particular time and 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. The Palmetto State also has prohibitions on prostitution, lewdness, and indecent exposure, while some consensual sexual activities might be prosecuted under its disorderly conduct statute.

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

Both sexes or beast

Penalty for Sodomy

South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-120: Buggery or sodomy: felony; 5 years or fine not less than $500 or both

HIV Exposure and Compelled Testing for Offenders

South Carolina Code of Laws 44-29-145: Knowingly exposing others to AIDS virus: felony; not more than 10 years or fined not more than $5,000; 16-3-740 Court shall order HIV testing of offender if victim requests and there is probable cause that the offender committed the offense and that bodily fluids were transmitted

Other Crimes Relating to Consensual Sex Acts

South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-90: Prostitution; lewdness: misdemeanor

South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-130: Indecent exposure: misdemeanor

South Carolina Code of Laws 16-15-365: Exposure of private parts: misdemeanor

Although state authorities are generally hesitant to prosecute what happens in a private bedroom, 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 she 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 would like legal assistance with a sex crime matter, you can contact an South Carolina criminal defense attorney.

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