Sexual Battery Laws in CA

Sexual Battery is a serious crime in California. A conviction of sexual battery will lead to a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration is required whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are charged with sexual battery, you must fight the case. The consequences are enormous.

Under California Penal Code Section 243.4, there are different alleged acts that can be charged as sexual battery. The common elements in all these circumstances are that the prosecution must prove that the accused:

  • Touched the other person through “physical contact with the skin of another person whether accomplished directly or through the clothing of the person committing the offense.”
  • That the touching was of the “intimate part” of another person. That means the “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.”
  • That the touching was for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.
  • The alleged victim did not consent or was incapable of consent to the touching.

A defendant can be convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sexual battery depending on certain factors:

  • If the alleged victim was unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, the case can be filed as a misdemeanor with a one-year maximum jail sentence and maximum $2,000 fine or as a felony with a maximum four-year sentence and $10,000 fine.
  • If the sexual battery occurred while the alleged victim was undergoing medical treatment or was institutionalized and did not have the mental capacity to consent to the touching. This is also a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail with a maximum $2,000 fine or a maximum four-year state prison sentence with a $10,000 fine.
  • If a sexual battery was committed while the alleged victim was unconscious and the accused fraudulently represented that there was a professional purpose for the touching, and this also carries a misdemeanor penalty of up to one year in county jail with a $2,000 fine or up to four years in state prison with a $10,000 fine.
  • It is also sexual battery if someone who is unlawfully restrained or is institutionalized for medical treatment and is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated is made to masturbate or touch an intimate part of anyone. Again, this carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine or up to four years in state prison with a $10,000 fine.
  • Misdemeanor sexual battery occurs when the touching is of an intimate part of the alleged victim, is for sexual gratification, and is against the will of a person touched. The maximum jail time for misdemeanor sexual battery is 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.

Defenses to Sexual Battery Under California Law

Aside from the obvious defenses to sexual battery such as misidentification, the most common defense is to consent to the touching. More importantly, California allows what’s known as the Mayberry defense, which allows the accused to present evidence that he or she reasonably­-but-mistakenly believed there was consent. This defense is critical as it can apply to events involving mixed signals or language barriers, and it can also apply when the case involves two people who have had a complex and involved sexual history.

The bottom line is this: Sexual battery, even as a misdemeanor, is a serious crime in California. Pleading guilty to it, even with no jail time and even to a misdemeanor, results in a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. This is an enormous consequence for what seems like an otherwise minor offense.

We have experience in defending sexual battery cases. We know how to get down to the truth of what occurred. There are two sides to every story, and we know how to tell yours.