Sexual assault is often a confusing crime because the definition that most people understand may not match up with the legal definition.  Most people think of “sexual assault” as unwanted touching, or they may consider “sexual assault” a euphemism for rape.  Sometimes the best way to understand a crime is to look at examples of the offense.  The Ventura sexual offense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain the definition of sexual assault and some examples of the offense under California law.

Definition of Sexual Assault and Sexual Battery in California

CA Penal Code § 243.4 contains the definition of sexual “assault and battery.”  The term “battery” in legal definitions often describes the offense of actually touching someone.  “Assault,” instead, covers the apprehension of the touch.  This crime could be more properly called “sexual battery,” but most people refer to it as sexual assault.

The definition of this crime includes any touching of a person’s “intimate part[s]” without consent, which can include direct skin contact or touching over the clothing.  “Intimate part[s]” include “sexual organ[s], anus, groin, or buttocks . . . and the breasts of a female.”

The statute has multiple subsections defining particular ways this crime occurs.  In most cases, the subsections of the statute give specific circumstances that surround the crime, including the victim being imprisoned, unconscious, or institutionalized.  These specifics will help provide many of the examples of sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Examples

Sexual assault crimes in California occur in a number of ways.  Most sexual assault offenses are committed against people that the offender knows, such as friends, dating partners, or people they interact with closely at work.  This provides some context for examples of sexual assault crimes in CA.  If you were charged with sexual assault or another sex crime for similar conduct, these examples can help you understand whether the offense was charged properly.

Workplace Harassment

Many incidents involving sexual assault occur in the workplace.  Any unwanted sexual touching can amount to the level of sexual assault, even something like touching a coworker’s buttocks or breasts in passing.  In more serious situations where the actor or someone else restrains the victim and subjects them to touching or groping, the crime more clearly fits the definition of sexual assault.

Passed-Out Victims

At parties or in other social situations, if someone becomes intoxicated, is drugged, or simply falls asleep from being tired, they are unable to consent to sexual touching.  If you or another person takes advantage of a passed-out person, they can face sexual assault charges.  Any sexual touching or molestation while the victim is passed out can constitute sexual assault, even if the touching is done over the clothing or is very slight.

Institutional Sexual Assault

There are subsections of the assault statute that specifically target those in a position of trust or authority in a jail, prison, hospital, mental institution, or other institution.  If you or a loved one was accused of sexually touching an inmate, a patient, or a participant in a program, or someone who has a severe mental handicap, they could be charged with sexual assault.  These kinds of offenses are often unreported because the victims are often isolated or people may not believe assault allegations.  For these same reasons, the CA legislature has created offenses that specifically aim to protect these victims by threatening high fines and prolonged jail sentences.

Child Victims

Adults in positions of trust or authority may abuse those positions and abuse children in their care.  There are hundreds of criminal cases each year dealing with family members, teachers, priests, coaches, and others who might take advantage of children.  These cases are often difficult and trying for a family.  For repeat sexual assault offenses against minors, the actor faces increased penalties and fines.

Penalties for Sexual Assault in CA

All sexual assault offenses are serious charges with potential fines of at least $2,000 and jail time of up to a year.  Many criminal charges in CA have multiple potential levels of punishment.  While the lowest version of the crime may have penalties of up to one year and fines of $2,000, increased penalties can top out at four years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

A judge determines your final sentence based on the circumstances of your offense.  While a slight touching might justify lower penalties, these charges are unlikely to justify the maximum penalties without considerable force, violence, or other evidence that the actor took serious advantage of the victim.  Additionally, a judge may lower penalties further by sentencing the actor to a term of probation instead of jail time.  This allows you to maintain some level of freedom by keeping you out of jail as long as you comply with the terms of probation.

Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers in Ventura Offering Free Consultations

If you were charged with sexual assault or another sex crime, talk to a Ventura criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth.  Our lawyers help those accused of serious crimes fight the charges against them and get the charges and penalties reduced.  For a free consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555 today.