The term “sexual misconduct” refers to someone behaving in a sexual nature toward another person without that person’s consent. Sexual misconduct can also occur in relationships wherein the power dynamic is shifted, such as that which exists between a correction officer and an inmate. In these situations, the officer is abusing his or her power if s/he engages in sexual relations with a subordinate, even if the inmate insists that consent was given.
What Kinds of Behavior are Considered Sexual Misconduct?
In the state of California, sexual misconduct refers to a range of behaviors. For instance, if someone exposes himself or herself to another person without consent, or if s/he makes aggressive and/or suggestive come-ons to an uninterested individual, this is considered sexual misconduct. It is also sexual misconduct if someone hounds an uninterested party for sexual favors, or if s/he ignores the other party’s nonverbal cues of disinterest or discomfort.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is defined in the state of California as unwanted touching of a person’s intimate parts, as defined in Section 243.4 of the California Penal Code. A person charged with sexual assault in the state of California can be convicted under California’s sexual battery laws.
What is the Difference between Sexual Assault and Rape?
Rape occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with an individual who is unwilling or unable to give consent. Rape is a felony, and it counts as one strike under California’s three-strikes law. Under the three-strikes law, a person convicted of two or more felonies receives significantly increased prison sentences until the only punishment left is a life sentence.
In California, rape is punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison, depending on the number of prior convictions the defendant has received. If the victim is 18 years old or younger, that sentence may be increased to up to 11 years in prison. If the victim is below the age of 14, the sentence may be increased to up to 13 years in prison. Those convicted of rape in California must also register as a sex offender with the state, and they may, in addition to jail time, be ordered to pay a fine and/or restitution.
How is a Defendant Convicted of Sexual Battery?
For a defendant to be convicted of sexual battery in the state of California, the prosecutor must be able to prove the following:
- The defendant touched the alleged victim’s intimate parts, either directly or indirectly through clothing, he or she was being restrained by the defendant or another person.
- The alleged victim did not consent to this contact.
- The defendant’s intention was to touch the alleged victim for the purpose of arousing himself or herself, abusing the alleged victim, or achieving sexual gratification.
It may be difficult for a prosecutor to prove the necessary elements of a sexual battery case if the defendant allegedly touched the victim during an encounter wherein body parts are normally touched, such as during a physician’s exam.
What are the Penalties for Being Convicted of Sexual Misconduct in California?
In the state of California, sexual battery can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant can be punished with up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. This fine can be increased to $3,000 if the victim worked for the defendant at the time of the incident.
If the defendant is convicted of a felony, he or she can be subjected to a range of punishments, including up to one year in the county jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. This is the standard punishment for such a conviction. However, California state laws differ here in that jail terms for this conviction can be extended for up to four years, and the associated fine can be increased to a maximum of $10,000.
What if the Defendant Argues Consent as a Defense?
If a defendant opts to use consent as a defense, then he or she must be able to prove that s/he was given consent. A consent defense can be controversial, however, as the alleged victim’s prior history may be required in order to establish whether he or she has a history of unlawfully accusing defendants of sexual misconduct.
In cases wherein the alleged victim is a child or an individual who lacks the mental capacity to give consent, then consent is not an acceptable defense.
Are you a victim of sexual misconduct? Are you seeking to file charges against the person or persons responsible? If so, we can help. Fill out the form to the right, or call us at (310)-997-4688, and receive a free, no obligation consultation from one of our licensed and experienced criminal defense attorneys who can guide you through your next steps.