Sexual Battery (PC 243.4)
Law & Punishment
Information on the crime of sexual battery and sexual battery by restraint, is found at California penal code sections 243.4 & 243.4(e)(1). The following is short summary of the law, penalty, and common defenses to sexual battery crimes.
Sexual Battery Crimes
Sexual Battery Defined: Sexual battery means to touch another person in a sexual manner without consent. A sexual manner means to arouse the defendant, or an attempt to arouse the victim (PC 243.4). There are several variations of sexual battery charges depending on the facts of the case, including:
PC 243.4(e)(1): Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery (PC 243.4(e)(1)) [Abbrev.].
PC 243.4(a): Sexual Battery by Restraint: Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused…, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, of either the defendant or the victim, is guilty of sexual battery by restraint (PC 243.4(a)) [Abbrev.].
PC 243.4(b): Sexual Battery of a Disabled Person: Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, who is institutionalized for medical treatment, and who is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and if the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse of either the defendant or the victim, is guilty of sexual battery of a disabled person (PC 243.4(b)) [Abbrev.].
PC 243.4(c): Sexual Battery by Fraud: Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery by fraud (PC 243.4(c)) [Abbrev.].
PC 243.4 Definitions
Touching: The touching does not have to be skin to skin. The touching may be through the clothing of the defendant or the clothing of the victim, or both, but the touching must be against the intimate part of the victim's body. Also, the touching, for purposes of sexual battery crimes, may be accomplished by non-direct contact, such as with the use of a device to accomplish the touching.
Intimate Part of Body: An intimate part means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.
Seriously Disabled: Seriously disabled means a person with severe physical or sensory disabilities.
Medically Incapacitated: Medically incapacitated means a person who is incapacitated as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication.
Institutionalized: Institutionalized means a person who is located voluntarily or involuntarily in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital.
Unlawfully Restrained: Unlawfully restrained means that the liberty of a person is controlled by words, acts, or authority. Unlawful restraint requires more than the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching itself.
Element of PC 243.4(a)
To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of sexual battery (PC 243.4(e)(1)), the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
Touched the intimate part of another person,
The touching was done against the other's person's will (without consent),
The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.
Note: Other sexual battery crimes include additional evidence requirements. For example, the crime of sexual battery by restraint (PC 243.4), requires all the above-listed evidence requirements and the additional evidence of restraint by the defendant.
Sexual Battery Punishment
Wobbler Offense: The crime of sexual battery is considered a wobbler, which means the crime of sexual battery may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Both misdemeanor and felony sexual battery charges are filed under the same general criminal code sections (PC 243.4); however, misdemeanor sexual battery may be charged as a misdemeanor under PC 243.4(e)(1) [PC 243.4(e)(1) is non-wobbler offense charged only as a misdemeanor].
Jail or Prison Sentence: If sexual battery is charged as a felony under any PC 243.4 charge, the defendant may face up to four (4) years in prison. If sexual battery is charged as a misdemeanor under either PC 243.4 or PC 243.4(e)(1), the defendant may face up to one (1) year in county jail, or six (6) months in county jail, respectively.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence, with or without a jail or prison sentence, may be available in some sexual battery cases, even for felony sexual battery cases. Probation is a period of time in which the defendant is placed on supervision as opposed to actual jail. Misdemeanor probation, also known as informal or summary probation, is not supervised by a probation officer. Probationary periods for sexual battery are generally as follows: Felony PC 243.4, four (4) Years of probation; Misdemeanor PC 243.4, one-four (1-4) Years or probation, depending on the relationship between the defendant and the victim (i.e., Domestic relationship between the defendant and the victim requires a minimum of three (3) years of probation per PC 1203.097).
Note: Whether or not the defendant is offered, or granted, a probation sentence after a conviction for sexual battery, depends on the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney, if any, and more. For more information, see Probation & Parole for CA Sex Crimes.
Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of sexual battery charged under PC 243.4, 243.4(e)(1), or other, the defendant will be ordered to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration includes registering the defendant's name and address with local law enforcement no less than once a year and within five (5) days of the defendant's birthday every year. Sex offender registration length is generally ten (10) years after a misdemeanor sexual battery conviction and twenty (20) years after a felony sexual battery conviction. For more information, See CA Tier System for Sex Offenders.
Crime of Moral Turpitude: A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is morally wrong or otherwise involves deceit or fraud. Sexual battery may be considered a crime of moral turpitude depending on the circumstances of the case, such as whether the defendant inflicted great bodily injury on the victim during the sexual battery. Crimes of moral turpitude carry harsh collateral consequences for non-U.S. citizens (immigration consequences), and licensed professionals.
Additional Punishments: In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of the crime of sexual battery, the defendant may face additional punishments, including, penalty fines, criminal protective orders (restraining orders), civil lawsuits, harsh probation or parole terms, loss of family law rights, loss of the right to possess a firearm, and more.
Sexual Battery Defenses
There is no perfect defense that applies to every sexual battery case as every PC 243.4 and PC 243.4(e)(1) case is different; however, there are defenses that are common to a sexual battery case, including statute of limitations defense, defense of consent (consent to the touching), mistake of fact, intoxication, coerced confession, insanity defense, insufficient evidence, alibi defense, illegal search and seizure, and more. For more information, including more information on the statute of limitations for sexual battery, see Defense Strategies in CA Sex Crimes.
To learn more about sexual battery crimes and PC 243.4, 243.4(e)(1), and more, contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our team of experienced and award-winning criminal defense attorneys offer free consultation every day of the week. We offer aggressive and passionate service for all persons accused of any sex crime in the Inland Empire, including San Bernardino and Riverside County. Call today!