CA PC Section 243.4

Sexual Assault; Sexual Battery

Being falsely accused of sexual battery is a difficult situation to be in. There are many social and economic consequences of sex crime allegations, so it is important to learn as much as you can about what you are accused of.

In general, battery occurs when one person touches another person without consent. Contrary to popular belief, the touching does not have to cause injury, the mere fact that someone else’s physical integrity was violated via unwanted touching has been enough to qualify as battery.

The crimes of sexual assault and sexual battery are different. These crimes are very clearly defined in the penal code by section 243.4 and cover a wide rang of conduct.

Section 243.4

An excerpt of section 243.4 is presented below. It provides a basis for understanding what makes sexual assault/battery unique.

Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery.

Direct your attention to the bolded portion of the excerpt. That language identifies what kinds of touching are forbidden, and shows that the violation of this section hinges on the intent of the person doing the unwanted touching.

Other sections of section 243.4 are unique as well. Section 243.4 (b) extends this idea to professionals like doctors and nurses and creates a unique penalty for them. Section 243.4 (e)(1) creates unique penalties for employers who sexually assault their employees. Consult a licensed criminal defense attorney to get advice about the details of your case.

Important things to Consider

  • Touches: Physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the victim. If the case involves an employer, touching includes contact on top of clothing
  • Intimate Part: The sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.
  • Against the will of the person being touched: This does not require that the person being touched resist the unwanted touching, the unwanted touching only needs to be achieved without the free and voluntary consent of the person being touched. Consent requires that the person being touched understand and appreciate all of the important facts of the touching.

    For example, if you falsely claim to be a doctor, and claim that your touching of another person’s intimate parts are part of a medical exam, you may be guilty of sexual battery. This is so even if the person you touch gives their permission because they did not have all of the facts needed to give a free and voluntary consent.

These definitions are important because they explain what the law considers an “intimate part,” and what parts of a person are considered “intimate.” Most importantly, though, is the idea of consent and that it must be freely and voluntarily given before any touching of intimate parts take place.


A violation of section 243.4 is generally a misdemeanor. However, some aggravating factors, like our fake doctor example above, are considered “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

Misdemeanor Penalties

  1. Up to 6 months in jail
  2. A fine of up to $3,000 depending on the circumstances OR BOTH, AND
  3. Summary (informal) probation AND
  4. LIFETIME registration as a sex offender

Felony Penalties

  1. Up to 5 years in state prison
  2. A fine of up to $10,000 depending on the circumstances, OR BOTH; AND
  3. Felony (formal) probation AND
  4. LIFETIME registration as a sex offender

Lifetime registration as a sex offender is a very serious penalty that can severely limit where you are allowed to live, where you are allowed to work, and will put your face and information related to a sexual battery conviction on a searchable database accessible by anyone on the internet.

Consult a licensed criminal attorney to determine what this means for you.

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