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If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual battery in Los Angeles, you likely have a number of questions regarding the charge, how to defend against it and what consequences it could have.
What is Sexual Battery?
Sexual battery is type of sex crime under the California penal code section 243.4.(a). A person may be charged with sexual battery for touching an intimate part of another person who is being unlawfully restrained, either by the person committing the act or an accomplice. The person doing the touching must be against the will of the victim and done for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual abuse or sexual gratification.
Sexual battery can also occur when the intimate touching is done through fraud. For example, if a doctor could be charged for lying to a patient that touching an intimate part of the patient’s body is part of treatment, when the doctor is in fact doing so for sexual purposes.
What are the Possible Consequences?
The state of California has a number of offenses that are considered “wobbler” charges. This means that these charges may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony. The decision to charge as a misdemeanor will be up to the prosecutor and will be based on the circumstances of the incident as well as the prior criminal history of the person charged.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, a person could face up to one year in the county jail and/or a file of up to $2,000.00. If the person receives a felony conviction, the sentence could be for two to four years in prison and/or a fine of as much as $10,000. Regardless of whether the conviction is as a misdemeanor or as a felony, the person will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
How to Defend against a Charge of Sexual Battery?
There are a number of potential defenses to a charge of sexual battery. One is challenging the sexual nature of the touch. If someone has touched another by accident or for purposes that are not sexual, a key component of the crime is missing. Another challenge is that of consent. If the alleged victim gave consent for the touching, then the act was not against their will.
Other, traditional defense can also be used against the charge. If the person charged has an alibi or can show that the accusation is false, they may be found not guilty of the crime.
What Can Be Done to Help the Case?
If someone has been charged with sexual battery, there are ways that person can help their own case. Making lists of any potential witnesses to the incident or for an alibi can help. Someone may have heard the alleged victim giving consent or may know that the intention of the touching was not sexual. The person charged should also consider writing down any details they can recall of the incident, as certain details could be important at trial.
One of the most important steps that a person can take is to hire an attorney. An experienced Los Angeles attorney will not only know the ins and outs of the legal system, but they will also know the local courts, judges and prosecutors.