Sexual Battery

Sexual battery, or also commonly referred to as sexual assault, is a major offense in California. Simply put, this type of offense can be thought of making nonconsensual contact with another individual in a manner that may be read as sexual in nature. According to state laws, a sexual battery may lead to serious penalties and punishments. There are many kinds of incidents that can lead to a sexual battery charge, and it is salient to understand the details. Certain actions can lead to increased punishments. This is why quality legal assistance matters.

At Long Beach Criminal Lawyer, we believe it is our duty to furnish any client with the best legal assistance around. With our team of excellent and highly experienced lawyers, we can provide a great level of expertise to cases dealing with sexual battery and more. Not only can we help in legal matters, but we can also provide a sense of professionalism and hospitality to our clients. Cases, such as sexual battery, can be stressful for anyone. We know this, and we can help to make the whole process is less stressful and easier to handle for everyone involved.

What is the Legal Definition of Sexual Battery?

Sexual battery, or sexual assault, is described by California Penal Code Section 243.4. This is a complex law that has many parts to it that must be understood. Not only are there specific elements listed out that define what sexual battery is in the state of California, but there are various types of situations in which this offense can become more severe. 

First of all, the act of sexual battery is defined as intentionally making contact with another individual’s intimate body parts against their will for the explicit purpose of sexual abuse, sexual arousal, or sexual gratification. Under this definition, there does not have to be any type of sexual penetration to lead to a charge. More than this, the act of touching can be either direct or through clothing. Mere contact made in a sexual matter is enough to land a sexual battery charge.

It is also important to note that the intimate parts of a person’s body include the anus, the groin, any sexual organ, the buttocks, or a female’s breast.

Also, the penal code specifically describes certain situations that can lead to a sexual battery charge. These include situations where a victim:

  • Was unlawfully restrained by the perpetrator of the crime,
  • Was hospitalized and was physically or medically disabled or incapacitated at the time of the crime,
  • Was touched under the belief that it would serve a professional purpose, or
  • Was forcefully made to masturbate or touch an intimate part of the perpetrator or any other person present.

The descriptions listed above describe incidents that can be read as a sexual battery in California. They all represent aggressive and non-consensual sexual contact. These types of behaviors will lead to a sexual battery charge.

Why Am I Charged with Sexual Battery?

In some cases, you may be wondering and questioning why you may have been charged with sexual battery. The law itself is broad in definition with various elements and can describe many situations that may lead to a charge. In order to fully comprehend what a sexual battery charge means, it is crucial to understand all of the elements of California Penal Code Section 243.4, or California’s sexual battery law.

As explained before, sexual battery usually arises from touching another person’s intimate parts in a sexual manner. This can mean making contact either directly or through clothing. A felony sexual battery indicates touching the victim’s bare skin either directly or through clothing.

Examples:

  • Mark is at a bar. He goes over to Carol and touches her breasts through her shirt. This leads to a standard sexual battery charge.
  • The same Mark returns and touches Carol’s breasts again, this time under her shirt. Since contact with bare skin is made, this leads to a felony offense.

Another element that is crucial to note about sexual battery is that the contact must be made against the victim’s will. This indicates that the victim of the crime did not consent to be touched in a sexual manner. However, you may still be charged if the victim consented out of misleading circumstances. This represents fraudulent actions and is still considered sexual battery.

Example:

  • Alison visited the doctor. During the check-up, the doctor continuously touched her intimate parts, even though it wasn’t required. However, Alison believes it to be an aspect of the check-up so she allowed it to continue.

This situation is still considered sexual battery under misleading circumstances. The doctor uses his position to subject the individual to sexual battery.

Unlawful restraint is another element that may lead to a sexual battery charge. This means that you used words, acts, or a sense of authority to restrain the victim’s free will and movement.

Example:

  • Maria asks one of her employees, Lucas, to meet in her office. Once he gets there, Maria locks the door and touches Lucas in a sexual manner.

Lastly, if you made contact with another individual’s intimate parts without the explicit purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, you can still be charged with sexual battery in California. This may fall under the category of sexual abuse. This means that you made contact with intimate parts with the purpose to humiliate, injure, hurt, or intimidate the victim. This can also mean that you sought to cause the victim pain or suffering by making contact with their intimate parts

Penalties for Sexual Battery

In the state of California, sexual battery is a major offense, and the law describes penalties meant to mirror the seriousness of the offense. It is important to know that possible penalties may be increased depending on the details and severity of each case. The more serious the crime perpetrated, the more serious the possible punishments.

As listed under California Penal Code Section 243.4, a standard sexual battery charge is usually considered a misdemeanor. This is for the act of touching someone’s intimate parts against their will for the explicit purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse. As such, only misdemeanor penalties are considered. This includes: up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of $2,000 or $3,000 (if victim was an employee), up to five (5) years of probation, including community service, enrollment in a batterer’s program, or enrollment in another type of program, and/or registering as a tier-one sex offender for at least ten (10) years.

For all other types of sexual battery incidents, felony penalties may apply. This includes incidents of an aggravated sexual battery where restraint was used, the victim was disabled or incapacitated, or sexual touching was made under the notion it was for professional purposes. If sexual battery occurs under these conditions, then it is considered a “wobbler” offense in California. This indicates that the charge may be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances and severity of each case. Also, the defendant’s previous criminal history will be a crucial factor in determining the type of offense.

If the prosecutor decides to try the case as a misdemeanor, the punishments are similar to those listed above except imprisonment may be increased to up to one (1) year.

If the prosecutor decides to try the case as a felony, the possible punishments include felony probation, either two (2), three (3), or four (4) years in a state prison, fine of $10,000, and/or registration as a tier-three sex offender for life.

If the accusing victim of any of these cases sustains a significant bodily injury, the defendant could receive an additional three (3) or five (5) years in a state prison.

Also, in cases in which sexual battery was committed against a victim who was disabled or incapacitated in any way, the defendant may only have to register as a tier-one sex offender for a minimum of ten (10) years like with a misdemeanor.

Related Charges and Penalties

In California, there are a couple of related charges that could potentially be filed in conjunction with or instead of a sexual battery. These related charges may be similar to a sexual battery but differ in certain elements. Also, some of these charges may be added to a sexual battery charge depending on the circumstances of each case. These include rape, battery, and indecent exposure.

Rape

Outlined by California Penal Code Section 261, rape is considered to be non-consensual intercourse achieved through the use of threats, fraud, and/or force. This type of sexual offense differs from a sexual battery in that actual penetration has occurred. Remember: sexual battery applies to cases in which the victim is only touched in a sexual manner.

Example:

  • After a date, Jake and Kelly decide to hang out together. Things start to get intimate; however, Kelly declines to go any further than making out. Yet, Jake forces Kelly to continue and to have sex with him. Kelly continues to protests, but she is forced to have sex while Jake holds her down to the ground.

This is a considered a major offense and is always charged as a felony. The possible punishments include eight (8) years in a state prison and potentially more years depending on the severity of the incident. Rape is also considered a “strike” under California’s “three strikes” law.

Battery

Described by California Penal Code Section 242, a battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another individual. Just think of this as simply hitting another person. This differs from a sexual battery in that there is no sexual motivation behind the use of force upon another person.

This is a misdemeanor offense in California. As such, the possible punishments include six (6) months in jail, and/or a fine of $2,000. 

Indecent Exposure

As described by California Penal Code Section 314, it is a crime for a person to willfully expose his or her intimate parts in a public space so as to annoy or offend anyone nearby. This may be related to a sexual battery if the perpetrator has exposed himself to the victim in a public space.

A first offense is a misdemeanor in California. The possible punishments include up to six (6) months in jail, and/or a fine of $1,000. A second or more offense is a felony. This may lead to time in a state prison. Also, the defendant must register as a tier one sex offender for a minimum of ten (10) years.

What Needs to Be Proven?

As with any other type of criminal offense, there are specific elements that must be proven to convict a defendant of a sexual battery charge. The specific elements for a sexual battery offense are clearly outlined under California Penal Code Section 243.4. These include lack of proper consent, willful intent, and any sort of aggravated elements.

Lack of Proper Consent

Sexual battery laws specifically mention that the contact made was made without the consent of the victim. In any case, the prosecutor must show that the accusing party did not give any sort of consent. Often, this may include showing that the accusing victim was incapacitated by means of alcohol or drugs.

Willful Intent

The law also states that the defendant must have intentionally touched another person’s intimate part for the purposes of sexual abuse, arousal, or gratification. This means that the contact must be made on purpose.

Also, if forceful contact was made, but without the purpose of sexual arousal, abuse, or gratification, you may still be charged with battery.

Aggravated Elements

Lastly, in order to increase the severity of the offense, the prosecutor will have to prove that there was a use of restraint, use of force, or that the victim was disabled or incapacitated in any way. The prosecution must present evidence that the defendant forced the victim by restraining them, or by using a position of power. Also, they must show that the victim was disabled or incapacitated in order to increase charges.

Are There Defenses for Sexual Battery?

There are defenses that can be made in sexual battery cases. With the assistance of an experienced lawyer, a defense can be made to drop the charges. Sometimes, there are instances in which you believe you did not actually perpetuate the crime, and you may present an argument in court. Common defenses include consent, accidental contact, and false accusation.

Consent

An element that the prosecutor must prove is a lack of proper consent on the part of the victim. However, a defense can be made if consent was actually given by the victim in question. This means that if you were given consent or a lawful belief you had consent, you cannot be charged with sexual battery.

Accidental Contact

The law states that you must have purposely made contact with another individual’s intimate parts in order to be charged with sexual battery. However, sometimes contact may have been made by accident, or without the intent of sexual abuse, arousal, or gratification. (However, this may still lead to a battery charge.)

Example:

  • While on a crowded dancefloor, Mike accidentally touches a woman’s intimate parts. The woman takes it as a form of sexual battery; however, since it was by accident, Mike cannot be charged.

If this is so, you cannot be charged with sexual battery in the state of California.

False Accusation

Finally, there may be times in which the defendant may be falsely accused by the victim. Since physical traces of sexual battery won't always be apparent, it is sometimes difficult to show. Thus, it would be easy to accuse someone of the crime. False accusations may arise from dating relationships, or any other type of relationship, that has gone sour. Also, sometimes a victim may accuse the wrong person of the crime.

Sometimes, there may be insufficient evidence to prove anything occurred. A victim may take advantage of this fact. However, this may also help to prove that nothing happened at all.

If this is so, you cannot be charged with sexual battery in California.

Finding a Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Sexual battery cases can be complex to understand and there is a lot to take into consideration. Also, this type of offense can lead to severe punishments in the state of California. These cases can be overwhelming to anyone who may face them. This is why it is vital to find an experienced lawyer to help fight these charges. You need someone on your side who understands the laws and who can properly defend you.

If you, or anyone you may know, has been charged with sexual battery in the Long Beach area, we can help. The first step towards success in any type of criminal case is finding the right lawyer. Our Long Beach Criminal Attorney can provide quality assistance and service during difficult times to any client who needs it. Our team of lawyers and staff members are here for you, and they want to hear about your case. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 562-304-5121. We will review your case as quickly as possible so as to start building a proper defense.

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