Sexual battery—the act of making unwanted and sexually offensive contact with an intimate body part of another person—is taken very seriously in the state of California. If you're accused of sexual battery, it's imperative that you act quickly with strong guidance.
Defending those charged with a sex crime may be complicated due to the sensitive nature of the crime, the emotional outcry from the media, and the prosecution's adverse portrayal of the person accused. However, an experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise a number of defenses on your behalf that could reduce or completely eliminate the misdemeanor or felony sexual battery charges against you. Here's what you need to know.
How Is Sexual Battery Defined in California?
Sexual battery, according to California Penal Code 243.4, is defined by the following terms:
“Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery.”
In other words, to garner a conviction of sexual battery, the jury must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you touched an intimate part of another individual's body (defined by California Penal Code 243.4 as the victim's groin area, buttocks, or female breast), the touching was against their will or without their consent, and it was for the specific intent of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.
Note that a sexual battery charge doesn't require the defendant to complete an act of penetration or sexual intercourse. Likewise, you may face conviction even if you are in a sexual relationship with the alleged victim. Legally, “touching” means making contact with an intimate part of the alleged victim either directly or through their clothing.
Are You Required to Register as a Sex Offender After a Sexual Battery Conviction in California?
In addition to a potential prison sentence and a hefty fine, individuals convicted of sexual battery may also be required to register as a sex offender in accordance with California Penal Code 290. California law requires sex offenders to register every year within five working days of their birthday and every time they move to a new address.
Misdemeanor sexual battery convictions carry a minimum ten-year requirement to register as a tier one sex offender, and most felony convictions carry a lifetime requirement to register as a tier three sex offender.
The penalties for failing to register depend on whether the sexual battery offense was labeled a misdemeanor or a felony. For those who are charged with a misdemeanor, failure to register is a misdemeanor offense and may be punishable by up to one year in county jail. Likewise, if convicted of a felony, failure to register is a felony offense and may be punishable by a state prison sentence of up to three years.
Fortunately, an expert sexual battery defense lawyer who understands California law and sexual battery defense may be able to use a number of strategies that could help you avoid the sex offender registry altogether.
Defenses to Sexual Battery in California
There are several possible defenses to the crime of sexual battery in California. They include:
- Insufficient evidence: It's not uncommon for there to be no physical evidence when a person makes allegations of sexual battery. A prosecutor may have a difficult time proving the crime occurred based solely on the victims' testimony.
- False allegation: You may be facing sexual assault accusations from an alleged victim based on their anger or jealously after a bad relationship. Our sexual battery defense lawyers may be able to show that the alleged victim made false allegations or simply lied about not giving consent.
- Consent: Consent is an affirmative defense to a sexual battery. Note that consent must be freely, knowingly, and voluntarily given to be valid, so if the victim was incapacitated in any way, it may be difficult to persuade a jury that there was consent or that it was reasonable for the defendant to mistakenly believe that the victim did consent. Nevertheless, our criminal defense lawyers may be able to prove you had a reasonable belief the alleged victim gave consent.
- Mental incapacity: If defendants in sexual assault cases prove that they weren't in their right mind during the sexual assault, a judge may give them a more lenient sentence. If you were dealing with a mental disease at the time of the sexual assault, you could argue that the disease prevented you from realizing you were doing anything wrong.
- Onus of proof: Another angle your defense lawyer may take is to promote doubt. The onus of proof lies with the prosecuting attorney, not the defense, which means the prosecution team must prove particular parts of the case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to garner a conviction.
It's important that you don't try to handle this type of case alone. An expert Santa Barbara sexual battery defense attorney may best be able to help you understand the law and develop a winning defense strategy depending on the circumstances of your case.
Consult an Experienced Santa Barbara Sexual Battery Defense Lawyer
If you're confronted with accusations of sexual battery, contact an experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer who knows California law and may help you defend against your alleged actions. The expert attorneys at the Aron Law Firm, led by William M. Aron, are here to protect you against your accusations by investigating your case in detail and building a robust defense. Our legal team is well versed in protecting clients from sexual battery charges and is dedicated to helping them avoid the consequences that stem from this offense.
The Aron Law Firm takes a client-centered approach and aims to make the legal process as painless as possible. To speak with a sexual battery defense attorney, schedule a consultation by completing our contact form or by calling us at (805) 618-1768.