How to Successfully Defend Yourself Against a Sexual Battery Charge in California
A sexual battery charge is hard to come back from. Your reputation, freedom, and future can crumble in an instant. Regardless of the events that led you here, you likely feel powerless and afraid of what comes next.
At The Nieves Law Firm, we know that fierce legal advocacy can overcome even serious sexual battery charges. For years, we’ve represented clients just like you who were facing life-altering accusations of sexual misconduct.
False allegations do occur, and the justice system makes mistakes. With a defense lawyer on your side, we can work to defend your innocence or convey that the encounter was consensual.
If you or someone you love has been accused of sexual battery in California, schedule a consultation for help today.
California’s Sexual Battery Law
Under California Penal Code 243.4, sexual battery is defined as any non-consensual touching of intimate body parts of another person for sexual gratification, even over clothing, if it goes against their will.
The intimate areas covered by the law include sexual organs, anus, groin, buttocks, and female breasts.
Potential penalties include:
- Misdemeanor sexual battery – up to $3,000 in fines and six months in county jail
- Felony sexual battery – fines up to $10,000 and 2-4 years in state prison
- Registration as a sex offender
- Enhanced penalties where restraint, institutionalized or vulnerable victims, or recidivism are involved
The circumstances alleged will determine what charges you potentially face.
What to Do if You’re Charged With Sexual Battery
It goes without saying that if you’re facing sexual battery charges, you need all the help you can get. Here are two things you can do to protect yourself.
Act Quickly and Assert Your Rights
Once you learn you are being investigated or charged with sexual battery, you need legal professionals in your corner without delay. Never speak to the police or make statements about the allegations without your attorney present.
Anything you say can and will be used against you later. Follow your lawyer’s advice closely throughout the process to prevent self-incrimination. Retaining experienced counsel swiftly is vital to start building your defense and protecting your rights.
Assist Your Attorney in Preparing Your Defense
Be upfront with your lawyer when discussing your encounter with the accuser in full detail. Providing a clear timeline of events is crucial. Also, identify witnesses, texts/emails, social media posts, and any instances demonstrating your past encounters and consensual sexual relationship with the accuser, if any.
Helping gather this corroborating evidence allows your attorney to develop defenses focused on consent. Your lawyer can introduce evidence of your prior relationship, communications implying willingness, and continued warm interactions after the alleged incident to counter the charges.
Most Successful Defense Strategies Against Sexual Battery Allegations
When facing sexual battery allegations, there are many lines of defense that an experienced lawyer may use to defend you, including maintaining your innocence, arguing consent, and negotiating a plea deal.
If you are wrongfully accused of sexual battery, defending your innocence is a must. An experienced lawyer will scrutinize the accuser’s background, motives, and inconsistencies in their statements to undermine their credibility. They will scour digital communications and social media activity to highlight any evidence that contradicts the allegations.
For example, suppose you have text messages, posts, and witness statements demonstrating you were in a different location at the time of the alleged incident. In that case, this provides powerful proof of your innocence by way of an alibi.
If there is a lack of physical evidence or corroborating witnesses, this will also be used to weaken the prosecution’s case against you. Skilled cross-examination of the accuser can draw out implausibilities and lies in their claims. When innocence can convincingly be argued, you have a strong chance of acquittal.
Arguing the Encounter was Consensual
Some sexual battery cases come down to the question of consent. If you genuinely believed the encounter was consensual, providing proof of that can defeat the charges. Your lawyer may introduce your digital communications showing a prior sexual relationship with the accuser.
Witnesses who can confirm seeing flirtation or intimacy before the alleged incident may be called to testify. If communication continued warmly between you and the accuser after the claimed assault, this evidence can also imply consent.
Although arguing consent is tricky, if the evidence demonstrates welcoming behavior and a history of consensual relations, the prosecution’s version of events can potentially be undermined.
Seek a Favorable Plea Deal
Rather than risk trial, your attorney may negotiate pleading guilty/no contest to a lesser offense like misdemeanor sexual battery in exchange for a lighter sentence or other advantages. First-time offenders may even qualify for sentencing alternatives like deferred entry of judgment that results in a dismissal upon successful completion of negotiated terms and conditions.
An experienced sexual battery lawyer will evaluate the specific details of your case to determine the strongest defenses to pursue for the best chance of beating the allegations.
Can the Victim Drop Charges in a Sexual Battery Case?
Once sexual battery charges are discovered, many people wonder if the victim can just drop the case. While victims can request charges be dropped, the decision ultimately lies with the prosecutor’s office, not the victim.
Even if the victim stops cooperating, prosecutors can still compel testimony and pursue conviction based on the evidence available.
Cases involving serious injuries or weapons usually move forward regardless of the victim’s wishes. However, if the circumstances are ambiguous and the victim adamantly wants to drop charges, the prosecutor may choose not to pursue an aggressive prosecution.
There is never a guarantee, though, that a noncooperative victim will result in a dismissal of a case, and in many cases, prosecutors maintain a strict “no-drop” policy if there is corroborating evidence like injuries and witnesses. Working with an attorney to build the strongest defense possible remains critical.
Don’t Lose Hope – You Still Have Options
The isolation and stigma surrounding sexual battery accusations can be devastating. But with experienced counsel fighting for your exoneration, there are still options. We have helped many people defeat charges like these to preserve their futures.
Please contact us for a case evaluation so we can start building your personalized defense strategy right away. While the road ahead may be difficult, you don’t have to walk it alone. Let us help you move forward with your life.