Facing accusations of sexual assault can be devastating. As you navigate the California criminal justice system, you may also suffer damage to your reputation and standing within your community. While defendants should be considered innocent until proven guilty, the public tends to view those accused of sexual crimes as guilty, regardless of whether the allegations are true or false. If law enforcement has arrested you for sexual battery (also known as sexual assault), here’s what you need to know about the nature and potential consequences of these criminal charges.
California’s Legal Definition of Sexual Battery
The term “sexual battery” encompasses many unlawful acts committed against another person. California Penal Code section 243.4 states, “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.” Additionally, unwanted touching of a sexual nature committed against an institutionalized, disabled, or unconscious constitutes sexual battery. A defendant may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the circumstances of the alleged act.
Penalties For Sexual Battery in California
In California, the state can bring either misdemeanor or felony charges against someone accused of sexual battery. Misdemeanor charges typically apply to lesser offenses, such as touching someone’s breast or sexual organs without their consent, while felony charges apply to more serious violations (i.e., holding someone down forcibly while touching them in a sexual manner). Misdemeanor convictions often carry a six- to twelve-month jail sentence and a $2,000 fine ($3,000 if the victim was the defendant’s employee). If convicted of a felony offense, you could face between 2 to four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Additionally, you’ll be compelled to register as a sex offender, which carries lasting consequences and limits your prospects considerably.
Obtain Trusted Legal Representation Today
If you are facing sexual battery charges, contact a skilled and experienced Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney right away. It’s important to exercise your right to remain silent until you’ve had the opportunity to discuss your situation with your lawyer. Many law enforcement officials will try to coax you into “explaining your side of the story,” but they can use your words to build a case against you. Remain civil and cooperative, but tell them that you want to speak to your attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will assess the specifics of your case and determine the best course of action to keep your future and freedom as bright as possible.
Call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 to arrange a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney.