A Santa Ana City Councilman, who was also once an Orange County, executive, has been charged with sexual battery, along with several other felony counts dealing with sexual misconduct. He has been charged with 12 felony counts and 3 misdemeanor counts in the Orange County Superior Court.
California Penal Code Section 243.4 defines sexual battery as the non-consensual touching of the intimate part of another for sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances.
In this case, the Orange County District Attorney has filed the sexual battery charges as felonies. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony filing lies with the way in which the victim(s) were touched against their will. As an example, in this particular case it is alleged that the defendant restrained his victims from leaving the room or the area in which the battery occurred. This elevates the charge to a felony.
In this situation, because there are several felony counts filed, this man is facing serious consequences. Unlike misdemeanor sexual battery, if convicted of felony sexual battery, he faces formal probation, 2, 3 or 4 years in State Prison, a maximum $10,000.0 fine and registration as a sex offender.
A misdemeanor conviction may result in informal probation, county jail time rather than state prison and the fines are much less. $2,000.00 is the maximum fine, unless the accuser was your employer and then the maximum is $3,000.00. However, even a misdemeanor conviction will require registration as a sex offender.
Being convicted of sexual battery can have life long consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney, specializing in sexual abuse cases, will be familiar the possible defenses available to this type of charge. Some defenses may include insufficient evidence, false allegations and consent, or the reasonable belief that there was consent.
Anyone who has been accused of sexual battery should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the Courts in the County in which the case is pending. An attorney who practices in the County where the case is filed should have a good understanding of how each individual court operates, the Judges, Clerks and District Attorneys. This will increase the chances of a favorable outcome for the client.