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Understanding the Differences Between Sexual Battery and Rape

Sexual Battery LawSexual crimes aren’t always the easiest to talk about, especially given the pain, confusion and shame that often accompanies them. This lack of dialogue has led to some general misunderstanding and misconceptions about the definitions of specific sex crimes, including the differences between sexual battery and rape. For people facing charges involving sex crimes, understanding the differences between each is extremely important.

Below are the definitions of sexual battery and rape, along with the factors that define the differences between each.

The Definition of Sexual Battery

California Penal Code 243.3 outlines the state’s sexual battery law, sometimes also referred to as California’s sexual assault law. Under the law, sexual battery occurs when a person touches an intimate part of another person’s body, doing so with a sexual purpose, without the person’s consent.

The most important word in the definition of sexual battery is consent. If someone is unconscious, restrained, or is unable to give their consent to sexual contact, then sexual battery has occurred. This also applies to minors who are not able to legally give consent. Sexual battery is not used to describe non-consensual sex acts that involve penetration.

To prove that sexual battery has occurred, the prosecution must establish the following.

  • The intimate touching was done against the will of the alleged victim.
  • The defendant, or accomplice to the crime, used force or coercion to unlawfully restrain the alleged victim.
  • While the person was restrained, the defendant touched an intimate part of the other person’s body or touched them with an intimate part of their body.
  • This contact occurred by touching the alleged victims bare skin, or the defendant’s bare skin must have touched an intimate part of the person’s body.
  • The act was committed with the purpose and intent of sexual arousal, gratification or abuse.

The Legal Definition of Rape

The definition of rape is when one person uses force to engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse of any type involving even the slightest degree of penetration. While sexual battery and rape are often used interchangeably, the difference between them is the act of penetration, making rape a much more severe crime.

Depending on the circumstances, sexual battery can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. For example, felony sexual battery requires that skin to skin contact must have been made, the alleged victim must have been unconscious or restrained, or the act occurred with a minor.  Rape, on the other hand, is always charged as a felony crime carrying the most severe punishments out of any sex crime.

A Sexual Battery or Rape Conviction Can Ruin Your Life

Sexual battery and rape are serious crimes with serious consequences. Many who have been convicted of these crimes find that it’s extremely difficult to rebuild their lives after serving out their sentencing. If you’re facing one of these charges, don’t take any chances with your defense team. You need a federal criminal defense attorney that understands the intricacies and sensitivities involved in these types of cases. Start by contacting Elden Law Group today for a free consultation.

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