Sexual assault in California

If you have been charged with sexual assault in California, you need an appropriate and competent defense. The Los Angeles sex crime attorney at Lluis Law are here to defend the constitutional rights of our clients.

For more than 40 years we have defended hundreds of people unfairly accused of this type of crime. Our reputation as one of the best criminal law firms in Los Angeles is based on facts.

Contact us and request a free consultation to study your case and answer all your questions.

Sexual assault crime in California in 2020

Sexual assault is criminalized in California Penal Code 243.4. It consists of touching the intimate parts of another person, against their will, to become excited, obtain sexual gratification or abuse. 

The intimate parts of a person include: genitals, anus, groin, buttocks, and women’s breasts. If, in addition to the sexual assault on the victim, a non-consensual sexual relationship occurs, it is called rape.

The crime of sexual assault includes attempted rape, caressing, incest, forced sex, lewd acts with children, and sodomy. California also recognizes as sexual assault: 

  • Force a minor to marry.
  • Oral intercourse.
  • Sexual penetration without reaching intercourse.
  • Child prostitution. 
  • Child pornography.
  • Kidnapping of a minor for sexual purposes or trafficking

Sexual assault is punishable as a misdemeanor or felony and can carry prison terms and fines. 

Examples of sexual assault

It is considered a misdemeanor of sexual assault: 

  • Touching a woman’s breasts sexually and without permission, or
  • Grabbing another person’s buttocks or genitals without their consent. 

As a serious crime it can be:

  • Forcibly take another person and caress or put their hands inside their private parts. 
  • Manipulating an institutionalized mental patient to masturbate in front of the aggressor.
  • Convince a patient to stroke the therapist’s body so that the victim is supposed to overcome their sexual inhibitions.

Elements that constitute the crime

The crime of sexual assault can be proven by the prosecutor if it manages to establish the following elements of conviction:

  • The defendant touched the intimate parts of the victim while immobilized (restraint) by the assailant or another person. 
  • Contact was by direct contact with the victim’s skin or indirectly on the victim’s clothing.
  • The contact was made against the victim’s will, that is, without his consent.
  • The defendant did so for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

When the defendant touches the victim for no sexual purpose (eg medical during an examination) the lawsuit could be dismissed. 

sexual assault crime

Sanctions for sexual assault 243.4 PC

If the accused is convicted of sexual assault as a misdemeanor the sentence carries: 

  • Up to six months in prison in a county jail.
  • Fine of $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 (if the alleged victim was an employee of the accused).
  • Informal or summary trial period of up to five years. It may also include: 
    • Community service,
    • Complete educational program for an aggressor, and / or
    • Complete a program to help people with sexual abuse / compulsion problems, and / or

Sexual assault as a serious crime with the aggravating factors mentioned above, is penalized as “wobbler”. In other words, the prosecutor can decide to present the accusation as a misdemeanor or as a serious crime. 

This will depend in any case on factors such as: circumstances of the fact, criminal history of the aggressor and age of the victim.

When one of the aggravating factors is applied to the misdemeanor, the maximum prison sentence is 1 year. As a serious crime you can face: 

  • Formal probation.
  • Between two, three and four in jail in a state prison. If the victim has suffered significant or substantial battery, three to five years in prison are added. 
  • Fine of up to $ 10,000) and / or 
  • Registration as a sex offender level 3 for life.

Common defenses against sexual assault charges in California

Among the most common legal defenses to combat a sexual assault charge are:

There was consent

At no time was there a sexual assault against the alleged victim. It may happen that during a date one of the people assumes that the other wants to be caressed. In doing so, the alleged victim rejects the caress and denounces it. If so, there would be no sexual assault. 

Insufficient evidence

It is difficult to present, beyond any reasonable doubt, real physical evidence in cases of sexual assault. The defense attorney’s task will be to convince the judge to drop the charges or at least reduce them.  

False accusations

It is not difficult to think that out of revenge, retaliation or anger one person denounces another for sexual assault. It happens with ex-partners or people who know each other and seek to cause damage to the image of the other person. 

This is one of the risks that innocent people run with this crime since it does not require physical injury. The ability of the defense attorney to determine that it is in fact a false accusation is crucial.  

Other reasons to falsely accuse a person of sexual assault could be:

  • Erroneous identification of the accused by the alleged victim or a witness.
  • The victim made the complaint because he suffers from mental illness.

Offenses related to sexual assault

Certain crimes can be added to a charge of sexual assault. For example: 

Rape – PC 261. Having non-consensual sexual relations with another person through the use of force, intimidation or deceit.

Indecent exposure – PC 314. Showing another person’s genitals to satisfy himself or to annoy him.

Battery – 242 pcs. It consists of the intentional and illegal use of physical force or violence against another person.

What do I do if I am arrested on a sex crime charge?

The first thing is to contact a criminal lawyer specialized in sexual crimes. At Lluis Law we recommend that our clients follow the following to the letter:

  • Do not speak to the police or private investigators. One more word can ruin a case. Remember that you have Miranda rights, which allow you to remain silent. 
  • Prepare to face the accusations with credible evidence and witnesses that deny the prosecution’s claims. You will likely have to undergo psychological testing. 
  • Study with your lawyer the criminal defense. For this it is necessary to know your rights and the content of the law. 

Is it possible to file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault?

In certain cases, depending on the circumstances and the facts, it is possible to file a civil lawsuit in a California court. The damages object of the claim could be: 

  • Medical expenses.
  • Psychological therapies.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of income generating capacity. 
  • Anxiety, emotional distress and insomnia. 
  • Scars.

Differences between sexual assault and rape

  • Sexual assault includes forced and unwanted contact (kissing or touching the victim’s intimate part).
  • The rape instead consumes the sexual relationship and takes place when: 
    • The victim does not give consent for mental or physical disability, is intoxicated by drugs / alcohol or is unconscious.
    • The victim is subjected to a sexual relationship against her will through force, coercion or threat.
    • The aggressor committed an act of fraud.

In all rape there is sexual assault, but sexual assault does not always lead to rape.

Statute of limitations for the crime of sexual assault

The deadline to file a complaint or claim for the crime of sexual assault is 10 years. Sexual assault injuries have a period of three years after the injuries are discovered.

Even those claims previously denied due to deadlines can be reactivated. To do so, victims also have a period of three years.

Since January 2020, people abused during their childhood can present their case before turning 40. 

The new legislation states that when a child victim of sexual assault they could be entitled to tripled damages.

What can Lluis Law do for you?

If you are facing a charge of sexual assault or any other related crime, you need a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Lluis Law we care about the constitutional rights and the reputation of our clients. 

We know that an accusation of sexual assault has strong personal and work repercussions in people’s lives. If you decide to contract our services, you will have the best legal representation in the Los Angeles area in criminal matters.

We will work on your case and we will stay by your side in each of the stages of the process. We will fully understand the content of California law and develop a strong, fact-based defense.