Sexual battery is a violation of California Penal Code section 243.4. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. The defendant or an accomplice unlawfully restrained someone
2. While the victim was restrained, the defendant touched an intimate part of the victim or while the victim was restrained, the defendant caused the victim to touch his or her own intimate part or caused the victim to touch the intimate part of defendant or someone else;
3. The touching was done against the victim’s will;
4. The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.
Under the sexual battery statute an intimate part is defined as a female’s breast or the anus, groin, sexual organ or buttocks of anyone. The “touching” or contact must have been made with victim’s bare skin. This means that: The defendant must have touched the bare skin of victim’s intimate part, or the victim’s bare skin must have touched the defendant’s or accomplice’s intimate part either directly or through his or her clothing. Someone is unlawfully restrained when his or her liberty is controlled by words, acts, or authority of another, and the restraint is against his or her will. Unlawful restraint requires more than just the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching. A touching is done against a person’s will if that person does not consent to it.
With regard to the element requiring that touching be against the victim’s will, the victim must not have consented to the contact from the defendant. Under California law consent is made if it is made freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the touching. Based on this definition, a victim who through impairment, duress or misrepresentation by the defendant is unable knowingly to consent to the contact, thus making it against his or her will.
An act of sexual battery may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony based on prosecutorial discretion. The defendant’s criminal history and the facts of the case will likely determine if the case is classified as a felony or misdemeanor. A conviction for misdemeanor sexual battery is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) or up to three thousand dollars ($3,000). If the victim of a sexual battery was an employee of the defendant the maximum term of probation is increased to five (5) years. A conviction under these facts also required the defendant register as a sex offender.
Felony sexual battery is punishable by the following: a sentence of formal probation or two, three or four years in the California State Prison. If the battery involves great bodily harm, defined as a substantial physical injury, an additional three to five years in state prison, a maximum ten thousand dollars ($10,000) fine, and registration as a sex offender.
A defense to sexual battery can rest on presenting evidence that the victim was not unlawfully restrained by presenting evidence that the victim was able to move freely or could exit the presence of the defendant freely without hindrance. A defendant may also allege that touching the defendant was consensual or was not for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. This type of defense would rest on testimony from the victim, the alleged offender or other witnesses who would be able to offer testimony as to the nature of the contact between the defendant and the victim. The latter defense would require the jury to weigh the credibility of testimony between the victim’s version of facts and the defendant’s, potentially raising the level of reasonable doubt among jurors.
Given the high risk involved with a sexual battery charge, it is important to seek experienced counsel if you are the subject of an investigation or are detained by law enforcement. Regardless of whether or not the case proceeds to trial, the seriousness of a California sexual battery charge requires the assistance of a skilled and committed California criminal lawyer who knows every legal argument when defending clients.
If you have been arrested for the crime of sexual battery in the Visalia, Fresno or California area, contact an expert criminal lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
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