Touching another person against their will for the purpose of sexual arousal is sexual battery. Unfortunately, some people are accused of sexual battery for something they understood to be mutual and wanted by both parties. This can result in an innocent person being charged with sexual battery. A conviction for sexual battery could change your life forever. If you were arrested for sexual battery in the East Bay, you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.
California Sexual Battery Law
Under California Penal Code PC §243.4, sexual battery is touching an intimate part of another person against their will, for the purpose of:
- Sexual arousal;
- Sexual gratification; or
- Sexual abuse.
An “intimate part” is defined as a sexual organ, anus, groin, buttocks, or female breast. Touching does not need to be directly to the bare skin. Intimate touching includes touching a person through their clothes, while using a glove, or rubbing a person's body up against the intimate parts of another.
Sexual battery may result in misdemeanor criminal charges. However, sexual battery may result in felony charges when sexual battery is committed against a person while they are:
- Unlawfully restrained;
- Institutionalized for medical treatment and seriously disabled or medically impaired;
- Unaware of the battery because the perpetrator represented the touching was for a professional purpose; or
- While restrained or institutionalized with a disability or incapacitated, made to masturbate or touch an intimate part of another person.
Incapacitated or Seriously Disabled
It may be a felony sexual battery offense if committed against someone who is institutionalized and medically incapacitated or seriously disabled.
“Institutionalized” means a person who is voluntarily or involuntarily in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital.
“Seriously disabled” individuals include those with severe physical or sensory disabilities. This could include mental and/or physical disabilities, whether temporary or permanent.
“Medically incapacitated” means a person who is incapacitated as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication. This does not require the individual be unconscious, only incapacitated under medication that impairs their physical or mental abilities.
Employer and Employee Sexual Battery
There are increased fines for anyone convicted of sexual battery where the defendant is an employer and the victim was an employee of the defendant. The additional fines over the standard sexual battery fine is to be used for the purpose of enforcing labor and housing laws, including issues of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Criminal Penalties for Sexual Battery
Under California Penal Code PC §243.4, sexual battery can be a misdemeanor or felony offense. Misdemeanor sexual battery is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to 6 months.
Felony sexual battery includes sexual battery against someone who is restrained, institutionalized and incapacitated, or where the victim is unaware of the nature of the battery because it is fraudulently being represented as for a professional purpose. The penalties for felony sexual battery include imprisonment for 2, 3, or 4 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Sexual battery between a defendant-employer and a victim employee can lead to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. If the defendant is the employer of the employee victim, this acts as an aggravating factor in sentencing, which may increase the penalties.
Any person who commits felony sexual battery against a minor when they have a prior sexual battery conviction is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
California Sex Offender Registry
One of the most damaging parts of a sexual battery conviction is the designation as a registered sex offender. A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor sexual battery will require you to register as a sex offender for life, under California Penal Code PC §290.
Under Megan's Law, as a sex offender, you will be required to register with local law enforcement. You will need to re-register every year, and register anytime you move, work in a job where you are around children, or go to school. Failure to timely register with law enforcement may result in criminal charges.
Defenses to Sexual Battery Charges
There may be a number of defenses to sexual battery charges. Your experienced East Bay sexual battery defense attorney will investigate your case and identify all available defenses. Some defenses to sexual battery charges include:
- Mistaken identification
- Consent to intimate touching
- Touching was not intentional
- Touching was done for a professional purpose
- Any touching was done for a reason other than sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse
In many cases, there is no physical evidence of sexual battery. It may be the alleged victim's word against the word of the defendant. Individuals may falsely accuse someone of sexual battery for a number of reasons. This includes because they regret something they did, they claim assault to cover up for infidelity with a partner, or angered after the defendant resisted their sexual advances.
Sexual battery accusations can be made in a nasty break-up or child custody dispute. A former spouse or partner can make up false claims of sexual battery to get back at someone or try to get custody of a child. These claims may also result in additional penalties related to domestic battery.
Talk to your attorney about possible defenses in your case. Your East Bay criminal defense attorney will identify the strengths of your case and the weaknesses in the prosecutor's side, to provide the best defense.
East Bay Sexual Battery Attorney:
Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients facing sexual battery and sexual assault charges. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, to maintain a clean record and keep her clients out of jail. Whether you are arrested in Oakland, Richmond or anywhere else in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact Lynn Gorelick.