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Sexual Battery by Medical Professionals PC 243.4(b), (c), & (d): Law, Sentence & Defense

California has carved out laws that are specifically related to medical professionals who allegedly sexually batter patients. The sexual battery laws that apply to medical professionals are found in California penal code section 243.4(b), (c), & (d).


The following sexual battery laws apply to medical professionals (i.e., doctors, dentists, psychiatrist, physical therapist, nurses, etc.) who are acting in their professional capacity when the alleged sexual battery occurs. These sexual battery laws may also apply to non-medical professionals, but due to circumstances, the following penal code section will usually apply to medical professionals.


Sexual Battery Laws Applied to Medical Professionals


Per PC 243.4(b): 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, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(b) Abbrev.).


Per PC 234.4(c): 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 (PC 243.4(c) Abbrev.).


Per PC 243.4(d): Any person who, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, causes another, against that person’s will while that person is unlawfully restrained either by the accused or an accomplice, or is institutionalized for medical treatment and is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, to masturbate or touch an intimate part of either of those persons or a third person, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(d) Abbrev.).


“Touches” Defined: As used in PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), “touches” means physical contact with the skin of another person whether accomplished directly or through the clothing of the person committing the offense (PC 243.4(f)) Abbrev.).

“Intimate Part” Defined: As used in PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), “intimate part” means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female (PC 243.4(g)(1)).


“Medically incapacitated” Defined: As used in PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), “medically incapacitated” means a person who is incapacitated as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication (PC 243.4(g)(4)).


“Institutionalized” Defined: As used in PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), “institutionalized” means a person who is located voluntarily or involuntarily in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital (PC 243.4(g)(5)).


The Punishment for Sexual Battery by Medical Professionals


PC 243.4(b) Incarceration: A violation of PC 243.4(b) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).


PC 243.4(c) Incarceration: A violation of PC 243.4(c) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).


PC 243.4(d) Incarceration: A violation of PC 234.4(d) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).


Length of Prison Sentence: The prison sentences related to felony conviction of PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d) range from two, three, or four years. This means the sentencing judge has an option to sentence the defendant to the low term (2 years), mid term (3 years), or the high term (4 years), depending on the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors related to the defendant’s alleged offense.


Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision by the court or by a probation officer, as opposed to an incarceration sentence (jail or prison). A probation sentence is allowed in sexual battery cases, including sexual battery cases related to PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d). However, a probation sentence is not guaranteed.


Whether the medical professional receives a probation sentence after a conviction for probation depends on many factors, including the classification of crime (misdemeanor or felony), the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney, the defendant’s criminal history (if any), the level of sophistication involved in the offense, the number of victims, the remorse shown by the defendant (if any), and more.


Felony Probation: If the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a felony conviction of sexual battery, then the defendant will be placed on “formal” probation. Formal probation is monitored by a felony probation officer. The probation sentence itself carries “terms of probation” that must be obeyed during the probationary period for the defendant to remain out of jail or prison.


The terms of probation are varied from case to case, but in all cases, the terms of felony probation after a PC 243.4 conviction will include criminal protective orders in favor of any alleged victim, restitution to victim for financial loss, orders to violate no law (no misdemeanor or felony crimes while on probation), and more.


Misdemeanor Probation: If the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a misdemeanor conviction of sexual battery, then the defendant will be placed on “court” probation, also known as “informal” probation, or “summary” probation. The terms of misdemeanor probation after a conviction for PC 243.4 are similar to the terms related to felony probation; however, the defendant will not usually be ordered to report to a probation officer during misdemeanor probation.


Incarceration as a Term of Probation: It is possible (and common) that a term of probation includes a short period of incarceration; however, when a term of probation is to serve incarceration, that incarceration period is much shorter than the jail or prison sentence that would otherwise be imposed if the defendant had not been granted probation. Additionally, sometimes, the defendant may be allowed to serve any incarceration probation term alternatively on work release or house arrest.


PC 1170(h) Sentencing: If the medical professional is found guilty of felony sexual battery, and he or she is not granted a felony probation sentence, then he or she must serve his or her incarceration in a California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail, and no part of that prison sentence may be served out of prison on work release (split sentence), or suspended.


Sex Offender Registration: Medical professionals, and others, who are found guilty of sexual battery charged as penal code sections 243.4(b), (c), or (d), must register with the Department of Justice (DOJ), and local law enforcement agencies, as a California registered sex offender (PC 290.


The length of sex offender registration is for life in felony PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d) cases (Tier Three Sex Offender Registration [PC 290(d)(3)], and for ten (10) years in misdemeanor sexual battery cases (PC 290). For more information, see Sex Offender Registration Requirements in CA.


Three Strikes Law: Felony sexual battery crimes, including PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), are not classified as “strike” offenses under California Three Strikes Sentencing law; however, if the defendant has suffered a prior “strike” conviction, then a felony sexual battery offense may trigger a “third strike.” This is rare with PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d) crimes because medical professionals will not usually be practicing as such if they already suffered a felony conviction.


Firearm Restrictions: A felony conviction of sexual battery charged as PC 243.4(b), (c), or (d) will carry a lifetime ban of firearm ownership or firearm possession. A misdemeanor conviction of sexual battery will carry a ten (10) year ban on firearm ownership or possession.


CIMT: Sexual battery crimes are classified as crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT). A crime involving moral turpitude is any crime that involves immoral acts, or otherwise involves dishonestly. Crimes involving moral turpitude, include sexual battery crimes, carry direct and negative consequences with immigration status, professional licensing (loss of medical license, nurses license, etc.), military service, and more.


Additional Punishment: In addition to a possible jail or prison sentence, or a possible probation sentence, additional punishments after a conviction for sexual battery will include civil lawsuits, criminal protective orders, restitution to victims, sex offender registration, court fines and fees, loss of scholarship opportunities, and more.


Sexual Battery Defenses Related to PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d)


Every sexual battery criminal allegation is based upon different facts; therefore, there is not one defense that fits best with any case in general. With that said, common defenses to sexual battery charges related to PC 243.4(b), (c), and (d), include insufficient evidence to prove sexual intent of the medical professional, consent of the patient to sexual touching (not applicable in cases where the victim is incapable of consent), Miranda Rights violations, coerced confessions, illegal search and seizure of evidence, alibi defense, false allegations against medical professionals for financial gain, statute of limitations, and more.


Reclassification: In some cases, where a felony sexual battery allegation has been levied against the medical professional, the defendant may have that felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor charge. This is allowed where the interest of justice is best served by reclassification of the sexual battery charge.


Note: The reclassification of a felony sexual battery charge to a misdemeanor sexual battery charge is not a true defense in the sense that the defendant’s case is dismissed, or the defendant is found “not guilt.” Rather, the reclassification is part of an overall defense strategy to minimize the defendant’s penalty exposure.


For more information on California’s sexual battery laws for medical professionals (i.e., doctors, physical therapists, dentists, nurses, etc.), or penal code sections 243.4(b), (c), or (d), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation. Our award-winning sex crimes defense attorneys have successfully handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony sex crimes in the Inland Empire. We are trial attorneys with a successful trial record in sex crimes defense and we can help you too. Call today!


909-913-3138


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PC 243.4(b), (c), (d): Sexual Battery by Medical Professionals


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