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Penal Code 243.4

Sexual Battery in California

Sexual attacks on or against another person is a crime in California. Under California Penal Code section 243.4 (PC 243.4), it is prohibited to unlawfully touch the intimate body parts of another person for purposes of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse. This contrasts with a charge of rape, under California Penal Code Section 261, which does consider whether there was sexual intercourse or penetration. Learn more about California’s rape laws here [web link].

How Can I Be Convicted of

Violating California’s Sexual Battery Laws?

Sexual battery under PC 243.4, is a more specific version of the more general crime of battery, in which sexual violence is alleged. Similar to other sexual offenses, this offense is based on the notion that the person did not consent to the sexual touching. In order to convict a person of sexual battery, there are four elements of proof, that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. You will be accused of violating Penal Code 243.4 if:

  1. You touched an intimate part of the another person,
  2. The intimate part was touched against the other person’s will, and
  3. The touching was done for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

You will be accused of felony sexual battery if the contact was on bare skin, and the following are true:

  1. You unlawfully restrained the victim
  2. While the victim was restrained, you touched the victim’s intimate part or had them touch yours or another person intimate part.
  3. The touching was done against the person’s will
  4. The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

It is important to note that for the offense to be charged as a “felony” the “touching” must be directly onto the bare skin of the victim or through the clothing of the defendant.

It is also important to take into consideration that in the case of a felony charge, the fact that the defendant was an employer of the victim will be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Consider the following examples:

Misdemeanor examples:

  • Marcia’s boss leans over behind her at her desk, and fondles her breasts, without her permission.
  • Lucia reached under the table, at a work meeting, and put her hand over Jeff’s pants in his groin area, without permission.

Felony examples:

  • Mitch pins Rosa against the wall, while Abel forces his hands down her pants
  • Leslie convinces Luke, who is mentally ill, to touch her genital area.
: A Closer Look into

Sexual Battery

How is “touch defined”?

Touching means to make physical contact with another person. This type of physical contact can be accomplished by direct, skin-to-skin, contact or through the clothing of the defendant or through the clothing of the victim.

How is “intimate part” defined?

  • Sexual organ
  • Anus
  • Groin
  • Buttocks
  • Breast of a female

How is “consent” defined?

To give consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily AND know the nature of the act. A previous dating or marital relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.

 How is “unlawful restraint” defined?

Unlawful restraint is when a person’s liberty is controlled by words, acts, or authority of the perpetrator and the restraint is against his or her will. It requires more than just the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching. Using lawful authority for a lawful purpose is not considered unlawful restraint.