As with any sex crime, sexual assault involves a victim and an offender. With this specific crime, the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is both unwanted and offensive. Each state will follow its own guidelines on making a determination of whether sexual assault occurred; however, usually the crimes will range anywhere from sexual groping or assault and battery, to attempted rape – very serious in nature no matter how it is done. Sexual assault is prohibited in every state, but the laws will vary even though they contain many of the same elements.
How is Sexual Assault Proven?
A case is made when sexual contact is made through force, coercion, or incapacitation. Did the victim have the mental capability to understand the nature of the sexual acts? Sometimes, date rape drugs are involved when the crime takes place and the victim was unwilling to participate in the acts. If the victim was not legally able to consent, then sexual assault can be proven quite easily. Sexual assault acts much like an umbrella term in the way that it “opens up” the doors to rape and unwanted sexual contact. Some states will consider names like ‘first-degree’ or ‘lower-level’ sexual assault based on the acts that occurred, anywhere from forced penetration to involuntary touching.
A prosecutor must be able to show many elements if they want to make a case. First of all, they must be able to prove that the defendant touched the victim’s intimate parts while the victim was restrained. They must also be able to show that the touching was against the victim’s will and that the defendant had intent for this crime to happen. Did they commit the crime for sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse? If so, the prosecutor will more than likely be able to prove the case.
Penalties in California
California defines sexual assault in a way that prohibits unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts. Under the California Penal Code, this is defined as any “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.” Sexual assault, as it stands, may also lead to nonconsensual intercourse, which in this case is defined as rape.
If a defendant is found to be guilty in the act of sexual assault, there are many things that may happen. It really depends, first of all, on whether the defendant was charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If they were charged with a misdemeanor, they will probably receive a sentence of up to six months in county jail with a fine of $2,000, or both. However, a felony may be a bit different. In this case, the defendant may receive a term of imprisonment in county jail of up to a year or a fine of $2,000 – however, in California, a sentence may last for two, three, or four years and carry a fine of as much as $10,000!
The defenses for sexual assault are slim, but they are still out there. If you did not commit the crime and you want to gain a better understanding of the defenses you can use, here are a couple:
Innocence: The defendant may have an “alibi” and be able to show that they were not actually there when the crime was committed. However, for this they must be able to show credible evidence or even bring a witness to attest to the fact. In the same way, a defendant can claim that the victim misidentified them as the perpetrator and possibly even prove evidence with a DNA test.
Consent: If a defendant chooses to admit to the charges, they may add, however, that the victim actually gave consent for the actions. However, this can prove to be a very tedious fact. Giving evidence of a past sexual history in regards to the victim may not please the judge and could seriously backfire. States will also differ when making the decision of whether or not the victim was aware of their ability to consent.
Insanity: A mental disease or defect at the time of the crime may show that the defendant is not guilty from a criminal standpoint.
Have you been arrested for sexual assault and are not sure where to turn? We may be able to help you with your case. Call us today for more information. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we are up to the challenge.