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Biggest Concerns If Charged with Sexual Battery?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jan 25, 2024

California Penal Code 243.4(a) PC sexual battery law applies whenever someone touches an intimate part of another person's body while restrained. The touching must be against the victim's will and must be done for sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

Sexual battery is a wobbler that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case. A misdemeanor conviction carries up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If convicted of the felony, you can receive up to four years in state prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000. Any conviction will require registering as a sex offender for at least ten years.

Probation, which would allow some sentence to be served out of jail, might be available if convicted of either form of sexual battery. The probation terms often include completing a batterer's class or community service hours. The factors that affect probation are in the California Rules of Court.

To convict you under PC 243.4, the prosecution must prove certain factors beyond a reasonable doubt. First, they must show that you or your accomplice unlawfully restrained someone and that you touched them on an intimate part of their body or made them feel themselves.

Intimate touching must be against the person's will and be for purposes of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse. The prosecution is burdened to prove that you did not actually and reasonably believe that the other person consented.

People don't realize how serious a California Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery charge is because the word battery is attached to it.  They figure it's not that big of a deal, and they don't need to worry about it.  

But the reality is, they should be very concerned if they're charged with sexual battery because probably one of the biggest things someone faces with that charge is sex registration.

Jail Time for Sexual Battery Conviction

Of course, another concern is jail time.  Even though the sexual battery is a misdemeanor, you're still facing up to a year in the county jail. If you go to prison, you are potentially in danger if the sheriffs tell other inmates what you're charged with, or somehow the other inmates can find out about it. 

In my 30-year career, I've heard about people being attacked in county jail.  So, if you get any jail time, that puts you in a very precarious position; you want to contact an attorney to put together a mitigation package if you are guilty of the crime of sexual battery.

This would include character letters and what you do for a living. They will look at your criminal record and do everything possible to put you in the best position.

Sex Offender Registration for PC 243.4

If you're convicted of PC 243.4 sexual battery, you'll have to register as a sex offender defined under Penal Code 290 PC as follows:

  • A misdemeanor will result in registering as a “Tier-One” offender for ten years.
  • A felony conviction will require “Tier-Three” registration for the rest of your life.

The three-tier system has the person registering at ten years.  That means for ten years, moving forward, you must register as a sex offender with your local law enforcement agency within five days of your birthday.  

If you move, you must let them know you changed your address.  If you decide you don't want to be in California anymore because you don't want to register as a sex offender and you go to another state, you still must alert California that you left the state and where you are.  

If you don't do that, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest, and when they catch you, they will take you into custody, and you will be dealing with a new offense and facing jail time.  So, this starts to give you an idea of how serious these sexual battery cases are.  Sometimes, people think I'll just have to negotiate where I don't have to register as a sex offender. 

Still, the reality is it's the conviction that is causing the sex registration, and no one, not even the judge, has the power to change that if you plead guilty to sexual battery.  So, the key is to try to get a different crime other than a sexual battery.

So, that is that huge thing when it comes to sexual battery, which is that 10-year sex registration.  Certain things can be done to get around that, but you'll want to bring the best attorney possible.  

What Are the Defenses for Sexual Battery?

If you are charged with allegedly violating Penal Code 243.4 sexual battery law, there are some common defenses, such as the following:

  • Insufficient evidence to convict you,
  • Consent to the touching,
  • False allegations.

Recall from above that the prosecutor must prove several factors called the “elements of the crime” to obtain a conviction. You can't be guilty of sexual battery if you reasonably believe the other person consented to the touching, even if it was a mistaken belief.

Perhaps we can prove that you reasonably believed that the other person consented throughout the act of touching. As noted, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not actually and reasonably believe that the other person consented.

Example of a Real Sexual Battery Case

I remember when I represented somebody in Los Angeles County.  The person was a father and had no criminal record.  He got drunk and inappropriately touched somebody.  

California Penal Code 243.4 PC Sexual Battery

He was charged with sexual battery. He wanted to coach all his kids, and he couldn't do that because if he got convicted of sexual battery, he would have to register as a sex offender, and he's not going to be able to participate in things where kids are involved.  

You must also stay away from parks and other locations where kids congregate.  Fortunately, I was able to go all the way to the head prosecutor and get a different charge other than sexual battery so that he didn't have to register as a sex offender for ten years and he didn't have to have that stigma carrying him around.

If you need the best result, pick up the phone and meet me, Ron Hedding.  I can talk to you about the case over the phone often.  We can meet in person to review the facts and details and create a plan.  Our California criminal defense lawyers might be able to negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain, reduce your sentence, or even get charges dismissed completely.

Once you start to take control of your life by placing together and designing a road map of exactly how we will attack your case, you'll begin to feel better and seize control of your situation. We offer a free case consultation, and the Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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