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Sexual Battery Laws & Defense

California penal code section 243.4

Information on the crime of sexual battery is found at California penal code section 243.4 & 243.4(e)(1).

Sexual Battery Laws

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(a)) [Abbreviated]

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person who is institutionalized for medical treatment and who is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and if the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(b)) [Abbreviated]

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(c)) [Abbreviated]

PC 243.4 & 243.4(e)(1) Sexual Battery Definitions

Touching does not have to be skin to skin. The touching may be through the clothing of the defendant or the victim but the touching must be against the intimate part of the victim's body.

Intimate part means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.

Seriously disabled means a person with severe physical or sensory disabilities.

Medically incapacitated means a person who is incapacitated as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication.

Institutionalized means a person who is located voluntarily or involuntarily in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital.

Unlawfully restrained means that the liberty of a person is controlled by words, acts, or authority. Unlawful restraint requires more than just the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching.

Element of PC 243.4(a): To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of sexual battery the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • Unlawfully restrained another person
  • Touched the intimate part of the person restrained
  • The touching was done against the victim's will (without consent)
  • The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse

Punishment for Sexual Battery

The crime of sexual battery is considered a wobbler, which means the crime of sexual battery may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Both misdemeanor and felony sexual battery charges are filed under the same criminal code sections (PC 243.4 or 243.4(e)(1)).

Whether or not the prosecutor files felony or misdemeanor sexual battery charges depends largely on the facts of the defendant's case along with the defendant's criminal history. In some cases of felony sexual battery charges it may be possible to petition the court to have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor even if the district attorney is not in agreement with the reduction of the charges.

Jail or Prison Sentence: If sexual battery is charged as a felony under any PC 243.4 charge, the defendant may face up to four (4) years in prison, If sexual battery is charged as a misdemeanor under any PC 243.4 charge, the defendant may face up to one (1) year in county jail.

Probation Sentence: Probation, with or without a jail or prison sentence, may be available in some sexual battery cases, even for felony sexual battery cases. Probation is a period of time (usually four (4) years) in which the defendant is placed on supervision. Misdemeanor probation, also known as informal or summary probation, is not supervised by a probation officer. Probation usually carries terms of probation and as one of the terms of probation the defendant may be ordered to serve a jail sentence; however, most probation sentences do not carry actual jail or prison time, but rather, work release or house arrest (electronic monitoring) sentences. Whether or not a probation sentence is available depends largely on the factual circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of any sexual battery charge under PC 243.4, 243.4(e)(1), or other, the defendant will be ordered to register as a sex offender for the remainder of the defendant's life. Sex offender registration includes registering the defendant's name and address with local law enforcement no less than once a year and within five (5) days of the defendant's birthday every year. Other conditions may apply depending on the defendant's status and any other sex crimes convictions associated with a sexual battery charge. The following sexual battery charges carry sex offender registration requirements:

  • Sexual battery PC 243.4 and PC 243.4(e)(1)
  • Sexual battery by restraint PC 243.4(a)
  • Sexual battery / institutionalized victim PC 243.4(b)
  • Sexual battery of unconscious victim PC 243.4(c)
  • Sexual battery by forced masturbation PC 243.4(d)

Crime of Moral Turpitude: A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is morally wrong. Sexual battery may be considered a crime of moral turpitude depending on the circumstances of the case, such as the infliction of great bodily injury on the victim during the sexual battery.

Non-U.S. citizens: Crimes of moral turpitude carry harsh consequences for immigrants. Immigrants convicted of sexual battery may lose the right to re-enter or stay in the United States, lose the right to obtain a U.S. citizenship, or lose the right to apply for a green card.

Professional License: Licensed professionals, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses, and so on, who are convicted of sexual battery, may lose his or her right to practice as a licensed professional if the sexual battery conviction is determined to be a crime of moral turpitude. Other discipline for licensed professionals include private sanctions, public reprimand, suspension and disbarment. This punishment applies to anyone licensed as a professional through a California Board, Commission, or Bar.

Firearm Prohibition: Felony sexual battery convictions carry a lifetime prohibition against owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition for a firearm (PC 243.4 Felonies).

Additional Punishments: In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of the crime of sexual battery, the defendant may face any of the additional punishments: penalty fines, criminal protective orders (restraining orders), civil lawsuits, harsh probation or parole terms, loss of family law rights, and more.

Defense to PC 243.4 & 243.4(e)(1)

There is no perfect defense that applies to every sexual battery case as every case is different; however, there are defenses that are common to a sexual battery case. These common defenses include: 

  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations is a law that gives the prosecutor a limited time in which he or she may bring sexual battery charges against the defendant. For PC 243.4 crimes, the district attorney has a one year limitation in misdemeanor cases and a three year limitation in felony cases.
  • Consent: Actual consent to any sexual touching, or a reasonable belief by the defendant that the alleged victim actually consented to any sexual touching, is a defense to sexual battery.
  • Intoxication: If the defendant is so intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, that he or she could not form the specific intent to sexually arouse himself or herself during the sexual touching, or sexual abuse the allege victim, may serve as a defense to a sexual battery charge.
  • Coerced Confessions: Often times the only evidence against the defendant in a sexual battery case is the statement of the alleged victim. To bolster the evidence against the defendant the police sometimes overreach in their interrogation of the defendant to gain a confession from the defendant. If a defendant's will is overcome during an interrogation due to police misconduct, or the defendant's confession was obtained without consent or after a reading of the defendant's Miranda Rights, the confession may be suppressed in criminal court. Suppressed simply means unusable by the prosecutor for most purposes.
  • Insufficient Evidence: Perhaps this is the most common defense. Insufficient evidence simply means there is not enough evidence in the case to prosecute the defendant for sexual battery. This mostly happens in cases supported by only one witness and without corroborating scientific evidence, such as seminal fluid, fingerprints, etc.
  • Other Common Defenses: Other common defenses to PC 243.4 crimes include: Alibi, Insanity, Due Process Violations, Mistake of Fact, and more.

To learn more about sexual battery crimes charged under PC 243.4, PC 234.4(e)(1), PC 243.4(a), and more, call our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. We never contract out our cases and our criminal defense attorneys dedicate 100% of their practice to criminal defense. Our success rate on sex crimes, including PC 243.4 allegations, is second to none and our attorneys are available every days to answer all of your questions. Call today!


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PC 243.4: Sexual Battery

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Sexual Battery PC 243.4 Defense

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Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Attorneys, Serving

Riverside County

Riverside, Eastvale, Palm Springs, Banning, Beaumont, Perris, Hemet, Corona, Norco, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley

San Bernardino County

San Bernardino, Rialto, Colton, Fontana, Redlands, Yucaipa, Apple Valley, Victorville, Ontario, Upland, Montclair, Chino, Hesperia, Highland, Adelanto, Grand Terrace, Big Bear

Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, Pomona, West Covina, San Dimas, Glendora, LaVerne, Claremont, City of Industry

Sexual Battery Related Crimes Include:

  • Sexual battery PC 243.4 and PC 243.4(e)(1)
  • Sexual battery by restraint PC 243.4(a)
  • Sexual battery of institutionalized victim PC 243.4(b)
  • Sexual battery of unconscious victim PC 243.4(c)
  • Sexual battery by forced masturbation PC 243.4(d)

Recent case results for our sex crimes attorneys

  • B.C. Accused of four counts of PC 288(a) in Riverside [Defendant faced 32 years in state prison at 85% percent]. Trial: 13 year old alleged victim testified at trial as to all four counts; alleged victim's younger brother testified that he witnessed several of the offenses. The District Attorney attempted to introduce hair fiber evidence to support his case. At trial, hair fiber evidence was excluded on successful motion by defense attorney; psychologist for defense testified as to the presence of pressure on the children, by non-forensic examiners, to testify against defendant: Result: Defendant found not guilty on two counts, jury hung 6/6 on remaining two retrial by D.A. on 288(a) charges.
  • F.F. Accused of two counts of PC 288(a), & PC 209(b)(1) in Riverside [Defendant faced life in prison] Trial: Psychologist testified, over prosecutor's objection, that the alleged victim suffered from common psychological phenomenon that affected her statements to the police (adopting statements of others, filling in for memory loss, confusing other person's history with her own, and questioned by goal objective officers, and others with leading, compound, and suggestive type questions: Result: Hung jury on all counts and offered probation only (no jail) before a second trial was conducted.
  • E.C. Accused of seven counts ranging from 209(b)(1), 644/261 [Attempted rape on minor], 243.4 [Sexual Battery], and other sex crimes [Defendant faced life in prison plus 25 years] Trial: Confession by defendant played to jury but found to be coercive by police officers. Defense, over prosecutor's objection, was successful in bringing a medical expert to testify as to the extent of alleged victim's injuries and the inconsistencies in her testimony as it related to her alleged injuries: Result: First trial was hung on all counts, second trial defendant was found not guilty on the most severe charges and found guilty of only lesser offenses. Defendant was immediately released from custody with credit for time served after jury acquittal on most charges.
  • J.G. Accused of sexual penetration of minor under PC 289 [Defendant facing 8 years in prison at 85%] Trial: Confession of defendant thrown out on defense motion. Probation only offered by the prosecutor after remaining evidence was fairly weak to support conviction [Defendant accepted]
  • S.F. Accused of multiple counts of 288(a) and 288(b)(1) charges. Defense argued that the statute of limitations had expired when the alleged victim reported to a "rape crisis center" the conduct of the defendant. Defense argued that the rape crisis center is a mandated reporter and presumably reported the incident to the police. Therefore, the police are presumed to have learned of the event soon after the alleged victim reported to the rape crisis center. Outcome: Plea deal struck with DA for no-time offer before judge heard the motion to dismiss for failure to observe the statute of limitations 


California Sexual Battery Laws & Defense PC 243.4, 243.4(a) & 243.4(e)(1)

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Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374