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Defending Sexual Battery Charges in California

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Jun 22, 2021

Review of Penal Code 243.4 PC Sexual Battery Charges and Best Defenses

California Penal Code 243.4 PC defines the crime of sexual battery as the touching of the intimate parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse.

Defending PC 243.4 Sexual Battery Charges in California
Sexual battery is described as touching someone's intimate parts for sexual gratification or abuse.

This common sex offense is often called “sexual assault” and the “intimate parts” of someone's body include the:

  • genital area,
  • buttocks, or
  • female breast.

PC 243.4 sexual battery is another California “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony sex crime.

A felony conviction will normally carry a requirement to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290 PC.

Examples of sexual battery 

An example of a PC 243.4 misdemeanor sexual battery includes a scenario where someone intentionally touches a female's breast over her clothing without consent.

An example of felony sexual battery includes a scenario where someone physically forces another person to the floor, holds them down, then places their hand inside the pants in order touch the intimate parts of their body.

For more detailed information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are reviewing the law below.

What is the Definition of Penal Code 243.4?

The California sex crime of sexual battery is defined under Penal Code 243.4 as:

  • “Anyone who touches an intimate part of someone else while they are unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against their will and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or sexual abuse, they are guilty of sexual battery.”

It should be noted that sexual battery charges don't require an act of penetration or sexual intercourse.

Further, you can still be charged under this statute if you are involved in a relationship with the accuser.

Closely related California crimes includes rape under Penal Code 261 PC, and battery under Penal Code 242 PC.

This definition of misdemeanor sexual battery means you can be charged with violating Penal Code 243.4 if you:

  • Touch an intimate part on someone's body without their consent; and
  • The touching was for the intent of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.

Touching means to make contact with an intimate part of the alleged victim directly on bare skin or even through their clothing.

As stated, the intimate parts of another individual's body includes female breast, groin area, anus, or buttocks.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Felony Sexual Battery Case?

In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for a felony sexual battery case in violation of penal Code 243.4 PC, they must be able to prove several different factors.

These factors are commonly called the “elements of the crime” and listed under CALCRIM 935 California Criminal Jury Instructions:

  • Defendant unlawfully restrained another person;
  • While restrained, defendant touched an intimate part of the victim, or caused them to touch an intimate part of the defendant, or someone else;
  • The touching was against the victim's will;
  • The touching was for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

For a felony sexual battery conviction, the intimate parts include the victim's anus, groin, sexual organ, buttocks, or female breast.

Further, the contact must have been made on the victim's bare skin, or their bare skin must have touched the defendant directly or through clothing.

What are the Penalties for a Sexual Battery Conviction?

If you are convicted of sexual battery in violation of Penal Code 243.4, the penalties will always depend of the facts and circumstances of the case.

As stated, sexual battery is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony case.

A prosecutor's decision on how exactly to file the sexual battery case will depend on the facts of the case, defendant's criminal history, and whether there are any aggravating factors, including:

  • victim was medically incapacitated,
  • mentally ill,
  • disabled,
  • fraudulently convinced the touching was for a professional purpose,
  • forced to touch or masturbate the intimate parts of the defendant.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery, the penalties include:

What are the Penalties for a California Sexual Battery Conviction?
PC 243.4 sexual battery charges can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
  • up to six months in a county jail,
  • a fine up to $2,000,
  • informal summary probation, and
  • registration as a sex offender under PC 290.

If you are convicted of PC 243.4 felony sexual battery, the penalties include:

  • up to four years in a California State prison,
  • a fine up to $10,000 fine,
  • formal felony probation,
  • sex offender registration for life.

Great bodily injury 

If the victim sustains a great bodily injury (GBI), the defendant could receive an additional three to five years in prison.

Defenses for Penal Code 243.4 Sexual Battery Charges

If you were accused of a misdemeanor or felony sexual battery case in violation of penal Code 243.4, our criminal defense lawyers will review the details of the case to determine the best strategy for a favorable outcome. The common defenses include:

  • consent,
  • lack of evidence,
  • false accusation.

Reasonable belief of consent 

Recall from the elements of the crime above, the prosecutor must prove the touching was against the alleged victim's will. Perhaps we can make an argument you had a reasonable belief that the touching was consensual.

Insufficient evidence 

Most sexual battery cases don't have supporting physical evidence or require a physical injury. Perhaps we can make an argument there is simply not enough evidence to support the charges.

False accusation 

There are cases where people have been falsely accused and wrongfully arrested for sexual battery. Perhaps we can make a reasonable argument the alleged victim made false allegations

Defenses for Penal Code 243.4 Sexual Battery Charges
Contact our law firm for an immediate consultation.

against you out of anger or revenge.

If you are facing Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery charges, you should contact our experienced team of criminal lawyers for a consultation.

We understand the serious nature of these charges and the impact they can have on your life.

Through prefiling intervention, we might be able to persuade the prosecutor from filing formal charges before court. 

Eisner Gorin LLP has two office locations in Los Angeles County, including Century City and Van Nuys, CA.

Contact our office for an immediate consultation at (877) 781-1570.

About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...

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