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When is a California Sexual Battery Charge a Felony?

Posted by Dan Kann | May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

California Sexual Battery Laws

The state of California considers sexual battery as a serious crime. The punishment is usually severe and can include a long prison term or the lifetime stigma of registration as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290.

California Penal Code Section 243.4 states that any person unlawfully restraining another person by themselves or with the help of an accomplice, and touching the intimate parts of that person, where the touching is sexual in nature; is guilty of sexual battery or assault.

Friendly Touch vs Unwanted Touch

The law clearly acknowledges and identifies the differences between friendly touching and unwanted touching. Any touch of an intimate body part without permission constitutes sexual battery.

According to the law, the ‘intimate parts' are as follows: anyone's groin, anus, sexual organs, or buttocks, and a female's breast. Any unwanted touch is an assault, but an unwanted touch on intimate body parts constitutes sexual battery.    

The sexual battery laws in California can be confusing and complicated. If you or anyone you know are facing charges of sexual battery, it is important to contact a California sexual assault defense attorney immediately.

Elements of Sexual Battery   

The severity and circumstances of sexual battery determine the filing of charges as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecution in a sexual battery or assault case needs to prove the following elements of the crime:

1. The defendant themselves, or with the help of an accomplice, unlawfully restrained the victim.

2. The defendant, while restraining the victim, touched the intimate part(s) of the victim, or touched the victim with their own intimate part(s).

3. The defendant touched the victim against their will.

4. The defendant touched the victim with the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.

Felony or Misdemeanor

Unlawful restraint and touching of the bare skin are the two main parameters that differentiate between felony and misdemeanor in a sexual battery prosecution.

Unlawful Restraint

For a sexual battery charge to be a felony, it must involve unlawful restraining of the victim by the defendant. This restraining can be through physical force, intimidating words, or threats of actions against the victim. For any restraint to be unlawful, it must be against a person's will. 

Touching the Bare Skin   

Any contact with the victim's bare skin can invite a felony charge in a sexual battery case.  This includes situations where the defendant touches the bare skin of an intimate body part of the victim, or if the bare skin of the victim touches the defendant's intimate body part, whether bare or through clothing.

To explain further, if a person grabs another person's buttocks without touching the bare skin (through the clothes), and without restraining them against their will, California law considers it a misdemeanor sexual assault.

Penalties in a California Sexual Battery Case

A misdemeanor sexual battery conviction can carry a jail sentence of up to one year, fines, court fees, counseling, and a condition to attend a sexual offender program. Another serious repercussion is the requirement to register as a sex offender.

Felony sexual battery convictions are for more serious sexual assault crimes and carry much more severe punishments.

Are You Charged with A Sex Offense in California?

A sexual battery conviction can have devastating consequences that can last a lifetime. If you or someone you know is charged with a sex offense, you must contact an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay.

At the Kann California Law Group our attorneys are skilled and dedicated, with an exhaustive understanding of California's criminal justice system. We can represent you in Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena, and many other Southern California cities. We can help you secure the best possible outcome with a well-planned defense strategy. Call us today at 888-744-7730 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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