Sexual Assault Charges in California
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, making it a relevant time to discuss sexual assault meanings, statistics, and possible penalties if convicted of this crime. Sexual assault is a broad term that encompasses a variety of nonconsensual sexual activities. They include, but are not limited to:
- Rape and attempted rape
- Forced sexual acts
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual exploitation
Keep in mind that sexual assault involves actual or threatened contact or behaviors of a sexual nature that are nonconsensual and make the victim feel uncomfortable or violated.
Sexual Assault California Penal Code
In California, sexual assault is also known as sexual battery. Sexual battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the type and amount of force used as well as the degree of harm to the victim.
To better understand the sexual battery meaning in California, take a look at the offenses below:
- Touching an intimate part of an unlawfully restrained person without their consent and for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines or 2 to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- Against their will, touching an intimate part of a person who is in a medical institution and seriously disabled or mentally incapacitated for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines or 2 to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
- Touching an intimate part of a victim for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse and fraudulently representing that the touching served a professional purpose is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines or 2 to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine
- Causing a victim to masturbate or touch an intimate part of the perpetrator or a different person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse against the victim’s will and while they are unlawfully restrained is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fines or 2 to 4 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine
- Touching an intimate part of another person against their will and for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or $2,000 fines
- If the defendant is an employer and the victim is an employee, the misdemeanor sexual battery punishment is a $3,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail
Let’s Talk About Consent
Believe it or not, consent can be revoked at any time. So, a person who explicitly agrees to engage in a sexual act at first can change their mind later on, and their partner must comply. If the partner continues to engage in the sexual act without the person’s consent, they could face sexual battery charges.
Be mindful that the age of consent is 18 in California, so engaging in a sexual act with a person under 18 could warrant criminal charges, even if the minor expressly gives their consent. With this information in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of consent:
- Saying “yes” when asked to have sex or try a different sexual act
- Asking permission before changing the type of sexual activity
- Offering positive feedback when you feel comfortable with a sexual act
- Telling your partner they can stop at any time
- Checking-in to see if your partner is still okay with an activity
- Ensuring your partner is over 18 before engaging in consensual sexual activity
- Evaluating your partner’s body language and other physical cues to ensure they are comfortable (note: Physiological responses such as an erection or lubrication are involuntary and do not always indicate consent)
Sexual Assault Statistics
Now more than ever, people are facing sexual assault charges. You may have heard of high-profile figures getting slapped with allegations from victims who reportedly experienced the sexual assault months and even years ago. To get a better idea of how common sexual assault is in the US, take a look at the numbers below:
- Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the US have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug-facilitated completed penetration.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2018, 37% of the total violent victimization experienced was rape, sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault
- A 2015 report by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reveals the following:
- About 1 in 14 men in the US penetrated someone else at some point in their life
- A majority of female victims of completed or attempted rape were victimized early in life, with 81.3% reporting that it occurred before age 25
- The majority of male victims of attempted or completed rape reported that it first occurred before age 25
- The self-reported incidents of rape or sexual assault more than doubled from 1.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons over age 12 in 2017 to 2.7 in 2018
As you can see, sexual assault is widespread. You could get falsely accused of this offense or commit the crime without realizing it. No matter how you got here, know that our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys have your back. To schedule a consultation and learn your defense options, contact us at (805) 467-6060!