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California Sexual Assault And Battery Defense Lawyer – Penal Code 243.4 PC

How To Win A Sexual Assault And Battery Charge

If you were charged with sexual assault and battery in California, you should speak to a criminal lawyer with experience in sexual assault and battery cases. They can clarify your legal rights and options, including how you could effectively fight the charges. The California sex crimes lawyer at My Rights Law has substantial experience getting sex crime charges reduced and cases dropped, including felonies and misdemeanors.

To learn more, get in touch with a sexual assault and battery lawyer at My Rights Law for a free consultation by calling (888) 702-8882 or through our secure web form.

In some states, sexual assault and sexual battery are separate charges—the latter coming with heftier and more severe penalties. However, in California, sexual assault and sexual battery are categorized as the same offense, and the state has the discretion to charge it as a misdemeanor or felony. We will say sexual assault but remember that this umbrella term includes sexual battery.

Any sex-related crime can upend your life and dampen your chances of a successful everyday life. If the state charges you with sexual assault, you should take this charge very seriously. Not everyone accused of sexual assault understands why the state is charging them. You may have thought your actions were innocent, playful, or culturally acceptable, so this charge bewilders you. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, we’ll explain sexual assault. Sexual assault is the unwanted touching of another person’s intimate bodily areas.

Reading that description, you may wonder, “If I playfully smack a friend on his butt after a Football game, could he have me arrested for sexual assault?” or “If I see someone attractive and touch their butt, have I broken the law?” The short answer is, “It depends.” You cannot avoid a criminal record by arguing that you didn’t know your behavior was unlawful. Arguing that “everyone does it” or that you thought the person was interested in you or wouldn’t mind aren’t the best legal defenses either. But before we get into viable defenses, let’s first clarify what a prosecutor must prove for a judge or jury to find you guilty of this crime.

Elements Of Sexual Assault And Battery

Whenever the state accuses you of committing a crime, it is vital that you learn the elements of that crime. Elements are specific to the offense. A sexual battery misdemeanor[1] and felony[2] each have elements. Some crimes have factors. Whereas a prosecutor does not need to prove every factor listed, a prosecutor must prove every element listed. If the circumstances of your case do not agree with the elements of sexual battery, either the prosecutor must reduce the charge to a lesser offense or dismiss the case against you. If you have gone to trial and your defense attorney raises a reasonable doubt that the state met its burden of proof on proving that each element occurred, the jury should find you not guilty.

In General

For the state to successfully charge you with sexual assault, a prosecutor must show that[3]:

  • You touched an intimate bodily area of someone.
  • You touched this person against their will.
  • You touched this person in order to receive sexual gratification, arousal, or to cause abuse.
  • You committed this offense while the person you touched was unlawfully restrained by yourself or an accomplice.

You should know that a judge or jury can find you guilty of this offense, even if you did not unlawfully restrain the alleged victim. Stealthing is an example of unrestrained sexual battery[4].

If Institutionalized

Bear in mind the crime of sexual assault applies in other areas where the legal elements vary slightly. For example, if you work for or visit a medical institution and you sexually assault an institutionalized person, a prosecutor must show that:

  • The person you touched is significantly disabled or mentally incapacitated.
  • You touched this person against their will.
  • You touched this person to receive sexual gratification, arousal, or to cause abuse.

If Unconscious

Although the crime of sexual assault hinges on whether the touching is unwanted, the law has also carved out an area of protection for unconscious people. The idea is that an unconscious person cannot give you consent to touch them. Even if the alleged victim is unconscious, a judge or jury can find you guilty of sexual assault. In this case, a prosecutor must show that:

  • At the time of the alleged assault, the person was unconscious.
  • At the time of the alleged assault, the person was not aware of your touching.
  • You misrepresented to the alleged victim that how you touched them served a professional purpose.
  • You touched this person to receive sexual gratification, arousal, or to cause abuse.

Penalties For Sexual Assault And Battery

As previously mentioned, this is a wobbler offense. If the state charges you with a misdemeanor offense, and you’re found guilty, you might serve as much as one year in jail and pay up to $2000 in fines. However, if the state charges you with a felony, you can serve from two to four years in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines. But the effects of a conviction, be it a misdemeanor or felony, can have long-term or life-long consequences.

For example, this conviction can cause your employer to fire you. Generally, employers cannot discriminate against you if you have a criminal record. Under California law, employers must give you a conditional offer of hiring where they don’t ask you whether you have any arrests or convictions during the interview process. However, an employer may later fire you if they learn that you have a sentence that puts the company’s reputation or other employees at risk or suggests that you can’t perform your role well.

A sexual assault conviction will likely be a legitimate reason for an employer to fire you. With this conviction, your employer may regard you as a threat to other employees. This is true even if your employer has employed you for a long time. Your employer may feel reluctant to promote you to a particular job if that position puts you over primarily marginalized or vulnerable employees. For example, suppose you’re an elementary school teacher. In this case, you are around children who are less apt to defend themselves and have authority over a vulnerable population. Your criminal record suggests that staff cannot trust your self-control. It also implies that your mental awareness of appropriate sexual relationships is skewed.

Moreover, in general, any conviction can prevent you from getting into the college of your choice. Even if colleges accept you, many certifications and licenses will deny you if you have a criminal record, especially if it’s recent. Unfortunately, if an administration denies you a certification or license, you won’t be able to get a job in the field you expected. The lack of higher education means that you’ll likely make less money. Making less money means you are likelier to struggle to pay bills, buy necessities, and enjoy non-work-related activities, such as shopping, movie-going, etc. Another concern to consider, under this circumstance, is that you’ve now accrued education fees, including loans that you’ll have to pay back. Thus, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pay back these loans without hardship.

Most of all, once you’re convicted, you’ll be locked away from your family and friends. You’ll miss precious time with your loved ones that you can’t get back. If you have children, you’ll miss birthdays, extracurricular activities, and more. Instead of getting to hug your loved ones whenever you want, communication with them will be reduced to limited phone calls and letters.

You may have to register as a sex offender[5]. Due to California’s three-tier registration system, you may have to register for ten years, twenty years, or a lifetime. Once you register as an offender, your housing opportunities become restricted. Also, this registry is a public record, so there’s the risk of embarrassment and humiliation.

Defenses To Sexual Assault And Battery Charges

There are some potential defenses to this crime. Sometimes, though, even a great defense can’t get your charges dropped. Instead, a defense may serve to get your charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor or give you a more favorable plea deal.

False Accusation

Your attorney may argue that the alleged victim is lying. People can become vindictive and spiteful for various reasons, so it’s quite plausible that someone you are at odds with may scheme to get you placed behind bars. Imagine this scenario if you’re wondering how such a terrible lie can come to be. You and your partner have dated for ten years. One day, your partner learns that you’ve been cheating. During this confrontation, a scuffle ensues. Your partner threw the first blow, and you struggled to defend yourself. However, your partner rushes to call 911. Your partner gives a very different account of the events than what happened. The police believe your partner and arrest you.

If this has happened to you, there is hope. You can prove that this is a lie by having character witnesses come forth to verify that you’d never sexually harm anyone. Medical reports can also confirm that sexual battery didn’t occur. Even if you and your partner engaged in intercourse that same night, more than likely, there would be bruises and other marks consistent with a battery that shouldn’t be there under a case of consensual sex.

Missing An Element

Several elements must be present for this charge to stick. If the prosecutor misses one or more elements, the court can’t convict you of this crime. For example, suppose that you and your coworker have a regular back and forth where you greet each other by slapping each other’s butt. One day, you smack your coworker’s butt hello first, but before they can return the friendly gesture, your employer sees this and screams at you. Concerned about losing their job, your coworker accuses you of sexual assault. In this case, there’s a strong chance that you can prove the intimate touching wasn’t unwanted because it was a routine between you two, so the state might have to drop the charge if that were true.

California Sexual Assault And Battery Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were charged with sexual assault and battery in CA, you should consult with a sexual assault and battery defense attorney right away. You will want to know your rights and how you could avoid getting convicted. My Rights Law has extensive experience helping people charged with sex crimes, including misdemeanors and serious felonies. We will be there for you. To get started, contact a sexual assault and battery lawyer at My Rights Law for a free confidential consultation by calling (888) 702-8882 or leave us a message on our secure contact form.

Other sex crimes our firm defends against: statutory rape, indecent exposure

FOOTNOTES
[1] CalCrim 938
[2] CalCrim 935
[3] California Penal Code 243.4
[4] AB 453
[5] California Penal Code 290

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