Penal Code Section 243.4 makes sexual battery punishable by imprisonment in jail or prison. When a defendant is charged with sexual battery in California, the People must that the defendant unlawfully restrained the victim, while restraining the victim the defendant touched an intimate part of the victims body, and the touching was done against the will, and the touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. An intimate part is defined as a female’s breast, anus, groin, sexual organ or buttocks of anyone. Contact must have been made with the bare skin of the victim. Restrained is defined as when a person’s 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. To consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the touching.
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Sexual Battery is a registerable offense pursuant to Penal Code 290. This means that a guilty plea or guilty verdict pursuant to Penal Code 243.4 will require the Defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life. Regardless of whether the charges or a felony or a misdemeanor, the defendant who pleads guilty to a crime of sexual battery, will be required to register as a sex offender. Failing to register as a sex offender carries its own separate punishment and charges. Therefore, it is imperative to hire an experienced attorney who can adequately make the very best effort to mitigate the circumstances and avoid a registerable offense.
Defenses to Penal Code 243.4 – Sexual Battery
Sexual Battery may arise in circumstances where the defendant is truly innocent. Some examples are:
(1) Employment setting where the victim has hired a Plaintiff’s attorney to commence a sexual harassment lawsuit and is seeking to use the criminal investigation and disposition to assist in settlement against the employer and/or its insurance company for payment of money damages;
(2) Where a non-US citizen lies to use the criminal case as leverage to obtain a U-Visa. A U-Visa allows an illegal alien to obtain legal status along with a work permit so long as the individuals cooperates with the police investigation.
(3) Where a cohabitating spouse in the midst of a divorce proceedings alleges that her husband attempted to have sex with her in order to have him leave the family household and obtain it as leverage in the divorce proceedings.
(4) Where a college student alleges she did not consent to the sexual encounter at a fraternity because the pictures of the party are now on Instagram and Facebook and her boyfriend from back home has found out about the incident.
Prosecutions Burden of Proof for Sexual Battery Charges
A defendant has many defenses in a sexual battery allegation. The prosecution has the burden to prove each of the elements of sexual battery pursuant to penal code section 243.4 and the defendant may provide a defense as well as negate one of the elements of the crime. Some defenses are:
(1) There was consent between the parties;
(2) The victim is lying and has a hidden agenda;
(3) There was no touching of the intimate part of the victim; or
(4) There is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sexual Battery as a Misdemeanor (Pen. Code, § 243.4(e)(1)) or Felony (Penal Code 243.4(a) & Penal Code 243.4(d)
Sexual battery is a wobbler which can be either filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. Sexual battery for a felony has an imprisonment punishment for two, three, or four years; misdemeanor charges carry a punishment not more than one year in county jail. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime of sexual battery as a misdemeanor, the prosecutor (Los Angeles District Attorney or the Los Angeles City Attorney) must prove the following elements of the crime:
1. The defendant unlawfully restrained the complaining witness;
2. While the complaining witness was restrained, the defendant touched an intimate part of complaining witness;
3. The touching was done against ’s the complaining witness will; and
4. The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.
Applicable Definitions to Penal Code 243.4 – Sexual Battery:
is defined as the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female. Contact must have been made with the complaining witness bare skin. This means that the defendant must have touched the bare skin of the complaining witness intimate part or the bare skin must have touched the defendant’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 person does not unlawfully restrain someone if he or she only uses lawful authority for a lawful purpose.
A touching is done against a person’s will if that person does not consent to it. To consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the touching. The defendant is not guilty of sexual battery if he or she actually and reasonably, even if mistakenly, believed that the other person consented to the touching and actually and reasonably believed that he or she consented throughout the act of touching. The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not actually and reasonably believe that the other person consented. If the People have not met this burden, the jury must find the defendant not guilty.
A person assisting the defendant in restraining the person may also be criminally culpable. A person is an accomplice if he or she is subject to prosecution for the identical crime charged against the defendant. Someone is subject to prosecution if he or she personally committed the crime or if he or she knew of the criminal purpose of the person who committed the crime; and he or she intended to, and did in fact, aid, facilitate, promote, encourage, or instigate the commission of the crime or participate in a criminal conspiracy to commit the crime.
Institutionalize Complaining Witness
Sexual battery of an institutionalized is covered by California Penal Code 243.4(d). Someone is institutionalized if he or she is a patient in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital. Someone is seriously disabled if he or she has severe physical or sensory disabilities. Someone is medically incapacitated if he or she is incapacitated because of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication. In a nursing home, often times patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s may make allegations of inappropriate conduct. Since all staff members are mandated reporters Welfare and Institutions Code 15630, a report is made to the Department of Public Health, Ombudsman, and the Police. Cross-reporting and investigations may lead to inconsistent statements that may cause a nurse or a staff member to be charged with sexual batter. Swift and diligent investigation is necessary by our qualified defense team in order to provide the additional information necessary to advocate rejection, reduction, mitigation, or dismissal of the case.