Based on studies conducted in 2017, California had a significantly high number of sexual assault litigations as compared to other states in the U.S. with 14,721 reported cases. The State of California, therefore, takes sexual assault proceedings seriously, and any allegation is bound to draw an onslaught from the prosecutors.
Undoubtedly, an accusation, arrest, or a charge of a sexual nature should be a course of concern. While you still do have the benefit of the doubt, it is, however, vital that you act quickly by getting yourself an experienced criminal defense attorney.
California Sexual Assault Laws
The California Penal Code has several sexual violence crimes in its law books. Mainly, each one targets slightly divergent offensive behavior, but some of them also have a couple of things in common. California sexual assault laws thus cover the following list of crimes: taking part in an intimate sexual act with another person who is opposed to participating or for some reason, unable to consent. Next, sexual assault, rape, and forcible penetration with a foreign object.
- Sexual Assault/Battery [California 234.4(a) PC]
Sexual battery defines an act of sexual violence where one person touches another person’s intimate parts (breasts, buttocks, or genitalia). More so, for sexual gratification without consent.
For that purpose, the law may either construe the contact with the victim’s private parts in the line of direct skin-to-skin or else indirectly through the complainant’s clothes. Subject to severity, sexual battery can either be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Penalties: A misdemeanor sexual battery conviction may attract a sentence of up to 6 months jail term or/and a $2,000 fine. Likewise, a felony is punishable by 1-4 years of prison time, in addition to $10,000 in fines. Moreover, the Megan Law requires the registration of a convicted person as a sex offender.
2. Rape Crime [California 261 PC]
The term rape defines any forcible sexual intercourse where the threat of violence, fraud, or coercion come into play and in the absence of consent from the party involved. In this regard, rape, therefore, can take the following layouts:
- Spousal abuse: compelling and engaging in sexual intimacy with a non-consenting marital partner.
- Date Rape: forced sexual contact or intercourse in the course of a voluntary date. There may also be an understanding that one party has no intention of having sexual intimacy with the offender. Date rape offenses can occur regardless of the presence/absence of drugs that may inhibit the awareness or ability of the victim to fight the offender.
- Statutory Rape: Refers to carnal knowledge with an underage person, notwithstanding the minor’s consent.
Penalties: Rape is a grave felony offense counting as a strike under California’s Three Strike Laws. To that end, it is punishable by a jail term of 3,6 or 8 years. However, if the victim is underage (18), the sentence can increase to 7,9, or 11 years of prison time. Furthermore, for offenses involving victims under the age of 14, the law applies a prison sentence of 9,11 or 13 years. Equally, rape convicts are also registered as sex offenders and may also be required to pay monetary fines and restitution.
Other sanctions for a person convicted of rape in California may also include orders to pay monetary penalties and restitution.
3. Forcible Penetration with a Foreign Object [California 289(a)(1) PC]
Forcible penetration is very similar to rape, with the only difference being that the object that penetrates the victim’s intimate parts doesn’t necessarily have to be a body part. Lack of intercourse is, therefore, not a defense and just like in the case of rape, the perpetrator is deemed to derive sexual gratification from the action/sexual abuse. In the same context, the aggressor uses force, the threat of violence, coercion, or fear to inflict immediate and unlawful bodily harm.
Penalties: Forcible penetration is considered a violent felony, and punishment may extend to 8 years imprisonment. Offenders may not only be forced to register as sex pests with the state, but also receive restraining orders and pay fines besides restitution. Equally, the crime counts as a strike under the California Three Strike Laws.
What California Laws Deem as Consent
In practice, a conviction under any of the discussed acts takes into account the victim’s position of being unwilling or not consenting to the sexual activity. The controversial question is how an accused person may know the exact moment when the alleged victim permits intercourse.
Based on the law, the accuser must be in a position to consent while also being conscious of the act. Regardless of the multitude of interpretations of the term, and the clarification factor if consent was possible, you can be sure of one thing—differences will arise with each case.
Courts, therefore, provide for these grey areas in their determinations of consent. The parameters aim to ascertain whether the victim was: 1) heavily intoxicated 2) unconscious 3) suffering from mental disability/person with disability 4) drugged 5) forced to engage in the act through violence or duress.
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