When someone is charged with sexual battery under California Penal Code Section 243.4(e)(1), this is obviously a serious crime because if you're convicted or you plead guilty to a sexual battery in Los Angeles, California, you're looking at registering as a sex offender.
That means every year on your birthday, you have to register with the local police department and there's other ramifications that come along with that sex registration that a lot of people obviously don't want to have to do.
CALCRIM 938 – Touched Intimate Part of Victim's Body
In order for the prosecutors to prove this case against somebody, there's three elements that they have to meet and these elements are spelled out in the CALCRIM 938 Jury Instructions that are read to every juror in a sexual battery criminal case.
The judge will tell them the defendant is charged with sexual battery in violation of Section 243.4(e)(1) and in order for the prosecutors to prove this case against this particular defendant in the Los Angeles Superior Court, they number one have to prove that the defendant touched an intimate part of the victim's body.
So, that would be touching their breast, touching their butt, touching their private area — some sort of an intimate part has to be touched in order for this element to be met in order for the person to be charged and convicted of sexual battery in LA.
Touching Was Against Victim's Will
Number two, the touching was done against the will of the other person. So, if it's a boyfriend/girlfriend there can be an argument that the girl consented to it based on prior acts and obviously, that could be a defense to the crime. So, it has to be against the person's will.
In other words, under the circumstances, the person didn't want this to happen. So, it's going to be a reasonable person standard. If two people go out on a date, they're kissing and hugging and somebody touches somebody in a private area, that's probably not a scenario where a sexual battery is going to be applicable.
But of course, those facts could be twisted or turned in a direction where it is not appropriate and it is not reasonable under the circumstances for an individual to touch somebody.
So, if you have one off these cases, obviously you want to get in front of a criminal defense attorney like me who has done these cases and can really give you a good feel for whether or not this touching was inappropriate or not.
Touching was Specifically for Sexual Arousal
The final element that has to be proved by the prosecutors in a sexual battery case is, that the touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse. So, if you accidentally touch somebody as you walk by them, again, depending on the circumstances, that can be argued that it was not done intentionally.
It wasn't done for purposes of any type of gratification. It was simply an accident, a mistake and that could be a defense to this element.
The prosecutors in a sexual battery prosecution have to prove all three of these elements. So, if one of the elements is missing, then obviously you would have an argument that they have not proved that element and therefore, have not proved the sexual battery.
They also talk about what exactly an intimate body part is. That's put in the jury instructions that that's read to the jurors in a Los Angeles criminal case. An intimate part is a female's breast or anus, groin, sexual organ or buttock. When they define the touching, it means making physical contact with another person. Touching includes contact made through the clothing.
And then finally, they talk about the act. An act is done against the person's will and if that person does not consent to the act. In order to consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the act.
Consult with our Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
The bottom line is, a lot of this stuff is reasonableness and if, under the circumstances, the defendant in the case believes they were given consent and that it was okay with the other party based on the surrounding facts to touch them in a sexual manner, then that could be a complete defense to the crime. So, if you or a loved one has a sexual battery or other California sexual assault laws, sit down with somebody who knows this jury instruction very well and has represented people for many years in the Los Angeles County criminal courtrooms.