California law distinguishes between friendly touching and unwanted advances, particularly when physical contact involves another person’s intimate body part. Accusations of sexual assault or battery are serious, as a misdemeanor or a felony crime. If you or a loved one are facing investigation or charges for felony sexual battery, understanding and applicable legal defenses is important. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we explain the specifics of your case, and remain honest and clear with you about your legal options moving forward. Our clients are our priority and Attorney Comings has decades of experience advancing the rights of people throughout Riverside and nearby communities.
California prosecutors may bring charges for felony sexual battery under California Penal Code 243.4 PC. This crime is a “wobbler,” which means that it can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case. A felony conviction can result in four years imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000. Additionally, if you are convicted for sexual battery, you will be required to register as a sex offender.
The State must prove all elements of felony sexual battery for a conviction. This means they must prove that you or an accomplice restrained someone, touched the person or made the person touch you, and the touching was against the person’s will, for sexual purposes. Further, under California law, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence supports the crime. This requires defining unlawful restraint, and “touching.” The law requires that you touch the person on an intimate part of their body. Because this intimate touching must have been against the person’s will, the notion of consent becomes important.
To be charged with felony sexual battery, the prosecution must show unlawful restraint and touching of bare skin as aspects of the crime. A related offense, rape, requires the element of sexual intercourse. For felony battery, restraint may be evident through intimidating words, physical force, or threat of action. Restraint is unlawful if it goes against a person’s will. Regarding contact with the victim’s bare skin, this may occur if the defendant makes contact with bare skin of an intimate body part of the victim, or if the victim’s bare skin makes contact with the defendant’s intimate body part, even through clothing.
When there is absence of proof of a crime, or insufficient evidence, a conviction cannot stand. For example, if you are arrested for felony sexual battery but there is no evidence that supports the element of restraint, the allegations will not be sustained. False accusations may also lead to acquittal of charges. For this defense, it would likely be necessary to show that the defendant did not commit the crime, and in most cases, that charges directly stem from anger, jealousy or revenge on the part of the victim. This defense is similar to insufficient evidence in that there may not be enough for the prosecution to rely on.
Consent may apply as a defense, however the defendant must have had a reasonable belief that the victim gave consent. This consent may be through spoken word, or the victim’s demeanor may have indicated consent. If they fail to object, that may be consent, although the consent cannot result from misrepresentation or intimidation. A person that is unconscious is not capable of consenting. The use of consent as a defense should be considered with the guidance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
You have the right to set forth a strong legal defense if you are facing criminal charges for a sex offense, and our office can help. Contact The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings today to schedule a free consultation. As a dedicated criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Comings is knowledgeable in the Our office proudly assists people throughout Southern California, including Riverside County. We can be reached by phone at (951) 686-3457 or online.