Charged With Sexual Assault Or Sexual Battery In California?Being arrested and subsequently charged with sexual assault (also known as sexual battery) in the State of California can be the worst experience of your life. A conviction can cause the loss of your job, family and even your freedom. Notably, your reputation may be damaged beyond repair as you may be designated as a sex offender for the rest of your life. While the #metoo movement has brought to light years of assaults that were once swept under the rug, it is not uncommon for these allegations to be the product of relationships gone bad or merely a tactic for financial gain. Without effective legal representation, things could turn ugly. Let’s take a closer look at sexual battery in California and what you can do if you are accused.
What Is Sexual Battery?
Sexual battery means touching an intimate part of another person – against their will – for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse.
There are a few basic components of sexual battery in California:
- Touching: Physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the alleged victim. Touch – as defined by the felony sexual assault statute – means contact with another person’s bare skin.
- Intimate Part: This term is defined under the law as the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.
- Against The Will Of Another Person: This means that the alleged victim does not consent to the touching. Consent is not an easy term to define as it can take many forms. Suffice to say, consent means permission to engage in the act. Consent is not consistent with force or coercion.
- For The Purpose Of Sexual Arousal, Sexual Gratification Or Sexual Abuse: Sexual arousal and sexual gratification constitute pleasure that is of a sexual nature. Sexual abuse means that you intend to injure, cause pain, humiliate or intimidate the alleged victim.
The prosecutor has the discretion to charge sexual battery as a misdemeanor or a felony. There are a few aggravating circumstances that could elevate the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony:
- Unlawful Restraint: To restrain another person means to control their freedom of movement. Unlawful restraint need not be accomplished through only force. Threats and other actions can have the effect of unlawfully restraining the alleged victim. It is important to note that restraint will only be unlawful if it is against someone’s will.
- The Alleged Victim Was Institutionalized For Medical Treatment: This means a person who is voluntarily or involuntarily staying in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility or mental hospital. This aggravating element also requires that the alleged victim be seriously disabled or medically incapacitated. A person is seriously disabled when they have severe physical or sensory disabilities. They are medically incapacitated when this incapacitation comes as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia or other medication.
- Falsely Representing That The Touching Served A Professional Purpose: This aggravated circumstance occurs when the alleged victim is led to believe that the touching is for some sort of professional purpose (e.g. a physical trainer touching the genitals of an athlete and indicating that it is for the purpose of rehabilitation or some other therapeutic purpose).
It is important to understand that sexual battery can occur between two people who are in an intimate relationship.
Typically, misdemeanor sexual battery offenses are punishable by a maximum $2,000 fine and six-month jail sentence, while felony sexual battery offenses carry a maximum $10,000 fine and four-year jail sentence. Also keep in mind that when sexual assault leads to nonconsensual intercourse, you face a possible rape charge – a more serious sex offense.
Possible Defenses To Sexual Assault
Perhaps the most common defense to sexual assault is that the alleged victim consented to the sexual contact. To be clear, just because the alleged victim does not actively resist does not mean that there is consent. Additionally, if a person initially says no to the sexual contact but later does not respond or resist to repeated advances, this does not necessarily mean that there is consent. Further, individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not be able to give consent depending on their level of intoxication.
A Note On Consent
In California, the age of consent is 18. In other words, it is illegal for anyone who is 18 or older to have sex with anyone who is under 18. Anyone who has sexual intercourse with a minor may be charged with statutory rape. Unlike many other jurisdictions, California does not have a provision in the law which allows for minors to have sex with other minors. Although rare, it is possible for two minors to both be charged with statutory rape.
When dealing with an adult who commits a sex offense against a minor, the age difference between them is relevant in terms of sentencing. For example, an 18-year-old who has sex with a 16-year-old may receive a more lenient sentence than a 40-year-old that has sex with a 17-year-old.
The only exception to laws concerning the age of consent is when you are legally married to the alleged victim. California is one of the few states that does not have a minimum age for marriage.
If You Are Charged With Sexual Assault, Consider Hiring An Attorney
If you have been charged with or accused of sexual assault, then you should immediately consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney. It is important that you talk to an attorney before speaking with the police in order to protect yourself and ensure that you are treated fairly. Fighting a sexual assault or battery charge is possible, and there are countless individuals who have beat this charge. Still, the odds are heavily stacked against you if you do not retain the services of an attorney. Remember that the prosecutor’s primary goal is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offense. If you do not have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you could really hurt your case.
The attorneys at My Rights Law have extensive experience protecting the rights of those who are accused of sex offenses. If you have been charged with a sex offense, then call (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation regarding your case.