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Sexual battery is a legal term for intentional contact without the victim’s consent or involvement, which is sexual in nature but does not include penetration. Contact will involve the genitals or secondary erogenous zones. The relevant part of California’s Penal Code is 243.4 PC.
Individuals can be charged under this code as accomplices even if they were not involved in the illicit touching themselves if sufficient evidence exists to suggest that such individuals aided and abetted another individual to carry out these activities.
In Los Angeles, misdemeanor and felony sexual battery are grave crimes that carry severe penalties. If you’ve been charged with sexual battery, it’s important that you consult with a criminal defense attorney who specializes in this field right away. An experienced lawyer will help you safeguard your rights and may be able to help you achieve the most positive outcome given the circumstances of your case.
Felony Sexual Battery
Certain circumstances will cause violations of California Penal Code 243.4 PC to be charged as felonies rather than misdemeanors. These circumstances are:
• The use of physical restraints
• Fraudulent misrepresentations that the touching is occurring for professional or therapeutic purposes.
• Touching that involves an institutionalized individual or an individual who is either mentally or physically disabled.
Note that felony sexual battery charges only apply when the touch involves the victim’s unclothed skin.
Note, too, that a alleged perpetrator can be charged with felony sexual battery if the alleged perpetrator forces another individual to touch him or her sexually when the aggravated circumstances described above apply. However, in the absence of those aggravated circumstances, the perpetrator who places another’s hand on his or her intimate parts may have violated California Penal Code 242 PC – the law that defines battery – but has not committed sexual battery.
Sexual Battery Penalties
Misdemeanor sexual assault without aggravating circumstances carries penalties of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 and summary probation of up to five years. In situations where the victim was an employee of the perpetrator, the fine may be up to $3,000.
Felony sexual assault carries penalties of up to four years in a state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and formal probation. If the victim sustained a bodily injury in the course of the sexual battery, the perpetrator may be sentenced to up to five additional years in a state prison.
At the court’s discretion, both misdemeanor and felony sexual battery convictions may require the perpetrator to register as a sex offender pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC.
In many circumstances, sexual battery is a crime that leaves little physical evidence. In the absence of physical evidence or evidence of a pattern of behavior, sexual battery allegations often come down to one person’s word against another. The burden of proof will be on the prosecutor, which increases the chances that these charges can be reduced or dismissed altogether.
Sexual battery is touching that occurs for the purpose of arousal in the absence of consent. If you have reason to infer that the touching is consensual, this may constitute a legal defense against these charges. Additionally, if you accidently touched another person’s intimate parts without the purpose of arousal, your action does not meet California’s definition of sexual battery.
Finally, sexual battery charges are sometimes made falsely. Don’t assume, however, that because you know the accusations are false, you won’t need the assistance of an attorney to help you protect your legal rights. Sexual battery is a serious charge, and you will benefit from the assistance of an attorney.