California Penal Code Section 243.4 PC: Sexual Battery

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

sexual battery

The law recognizes that certain touching and other acts of physical contact are more offensive than others because they are sexual in nature. As a result, sexual battery (which is also called sexual assault) is a more serious battery offense under California Penal Code Section 243.4 PC that can carry severe consequences such as prison terms and registration as a sexual offender.

To prove that a defendant committed felony sexual battery, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant (or an accomplice) unlawfully restrained another person.
  2. While this person was restrained, the defendant touched an intimate part of this other person or touched this other person with his or her own intimate part.
  3. The touching was done against the other person's will.
  4. The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

An intimate part is defined as the anus, groin, sexual organ or buttocks of anyone and the breast of a female.

Contact must have been made with the other person's bare skin, this means that:

  1. The defendant must have touched the bare skin of the other person's intimate part.
  2. OR the other person's bare skin must have touched the defendant's intimate part either directly or through clothing.

Someone is unlawfully restrained when his or her liberty is controlled by words, acts, or authority of another and the restraint is against his or her will. Unlawful restraint requires more than just the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching.

Misdemeanor sexual battery removes the requirement that the other person be restrained and that touching be made on or with bare skin. Thus someone who fondles a woman's breast through her shirt could be prosecuted for misdemeanor sexual battery as long as the victim was not restrained.

2. Examples

A group young men record themselves approaching single women on the street, grabbing them, pulling up their shirts and fondling their breasts for the camera. These men could be charged with felony-level sexual battery, among other offenses, because they have restrained the women and have made nonconsensual physical contact with their bare breasts.

In another example, a man at the beach approaches a female sunbather in a bikini and grabs her buttocks while she lies on her stomach. This man would most likely be prosecuted for misdemeanor sexual battery because he did not touch bare skin and because the woman was not restrained.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Rape - California Penal Code Section 261 PC
  2. Battery - California Penal Code Section 242 PC

4. Defenses to Sexual Battery

Because this crime often does not involve an injury or physical harm that may leave bruising or other evidence of contact, it is an area that is susceptible to false accusations.

In addition, if the touching was consensual or non-sexual in nature, there would be no criminal liability under California Penal Code Section 243.4 PC.

5. Penalties

If someone is convicted of sexual battery as a misdemeanor, they may be sentenced to up to six months in jail, expensive court fines, sexual offender programming/counseling sessions and forced sex offender registration. Those convicted of felony-level sexual battery can face up to four years in prison (with an additional five years if the victim suffered great bodily injury), significant fines and sex offender registration.

6. Criminal Defense for Sexual Battery Cases

Sexual battery is a very serious criminal offense that can cause lifelong consequences for those convicted. As noted above, someone can be charged even where there is little to no physical evidence that a crime took place. As a result, if you or someone you know have been accused of sexual battery, it is critical that you meet with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who has handled serious offenses of this nature as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. In certain circumstances, Mr. Kraut is able to intervene before charges have been filed in order to present a defense to the detective or filing prosecutor and avoid criminal filing altogether.

For more information about sexual battery charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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