What Is Sexual Battery? Laws and Penalties

sexual battery

Sex crimes are defined and punished differently in each state. Your state’s laws may refer to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, or other terminologies such as sexual abuse, unlawful sexual behavior, or criminal sexual conduct, depending on where you live. Many of these terms are used interchangeably, but they have legal definitions under state law. Sexual contact or touching that does not entail intercourse or sexual penetration but is nevertheless a criminal offense is referred to as sexual battery or criminal sexual contact.
While most states use the phrase “sexual battery” to refer to criminal sexual touching, a few states use it to refer to the more serious offenses of rape or criminal sexual penetration. This article discusses sexual battery as a felony involving inappropriate sexual touching other than penetration and the sentence of an aggravated sexual battery.

What Is Sexual Battery?

Nonconsensual sexual contact or touching of another’s private parts (clothed or unclothed) without consent or against the victim’s will is commonly referred to as a sexual battery. Some state laws require the defendant to commit the act for sexual arousal or gratification or to abuse or humiliate the victim.

Sexual battery examples include:

  • taking hold of or fondling a woman’s breast
  • putting one’s hands on the victim’s genital area
  • requiring the victim to touch a private portion of the offender’s body, or
  • even if it means forcing a kiss on the lips

Aggravated Sexual Battery

Aggravated sexual battery refers to situations that are deemed more serious under Tennessee law. For unlawful sexual contact including one of the following criteria, the aggravated sexual battery may be charged:

  • A victim under the age of thirteen
  • Force or compulsion is used, and the defendant is equipped with a weapon or an object that is reasonably believed to be a weapon.
  • Force or coercion is used, and the defendant is aided by another individual.
  • A victim who is mentally or physically handicapped and the defendant is supported by another person
  • The defendant injures the victim physically.

In most circumstances, aggravated sexual battery is a Class B felony. A conviction can result in a prison sentence of eight to thirty years, a maximum fine of $25,000, sex offender registration, and other repercussions.

Sexual Battery by a Public Figure

There are particular regulations for sex offenses perpetrated by someone in a position of power over a more vulnerable victim. Sexual battery by an authority figure happens when a defendant uses their position of trust, supervisory or disciplinary power, or parental or custodial authority to engage in illegal sexual contact with the victim. The victim must be at least thirteen years old and under the age of eighteen, or he or she must be mentally or physically incompetent at any age. Sexual battery by a public figure is a Class C crime. If convicted, a defendant faces three to fifteen years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, inclusion on a sex offender registry, and other penalties.

Although permission may be used as a defense in some cases of sexual battery, it is not accessible in all cases, such as those involving minor victims. In a given sexual battery case, a criminal defense attorney can assess if consent or other defenses may be brought. A lawyer can also defend you against false accusations or mistaken identification, if relevant, and propose a defense plan customized to your specific case.

Absence of Consent

The absence of consent is a critical component of sex crimes. Sexual activity becomes unlawful when sexual touch is not consented to, either because the offender forces another person to be sexual against his or her choice, or because the other person is deemed incapable of consenting or has decreased mental ability to consent. Minors under the age of fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen are regarded as incapable of consenting to sexual contact, regardless of their mental capacity to grasp the nature of the act or their ability to refuse. Sexual intercourse with a minor is a term that is frequently used to refer to “statutory rape”. Furthermore, sex with the following people is illegal if they lack the capacity to consent knowingly:

  • a person with developmental disabilities
  • someone who suffers from mental illness, and
  • a person who is disabled (drunk, drugged, or unconscious) or otherwise physically powerless

What Does It Mean To Be Mentally Defective?

“Mentally deficient” refers to a mental ailment or defect that causes a person to be momentarily or permanently incapable of appreciating the nature of his or her own behavior.

How does one tell if someone they are close to is schizophrenia and will claim they don’t remember anything but know they would not have had sex with the person suspected of a crime? We have dealt with this identical case at Mike G Law, and after a long and drawn-out battle, we were able to get the charges dropped.

What does it mean to be intellectually incapacitated?

“Mentally incapacitated” refers to a person who is temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her own behavior as a result of the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance administered without his or her consent, or as a result of any other act committed against that person without his or her consent.”

What does it mean to be physically helpless?

“Physically helpless” refers to being unconscious, sleepy, or otherwise physically unable to communicate an unwillingness to perform an act.

What does it mean to be physically incapacitated?

“Physically incapacitated” refers to being physically crippled or handicapped and having a significantly limited ability to resist or flee.

Defenses Against Sexual Battery

Defendants accused of sexual battery or criminal sexual contact have access to the same defenses as all other criminal defendants, beginning with “someone else committed this crime.” A defendant may alternatively allege that the sexual activity was voluntary. In a criminal sexual contact case, there may be serious doubts about what constitutes consent or refusal. This has given rise to the infamous question of when “No” truly means “No.” Is the victim have to object more forcefully if the word constitutes a lack of consent as soon as it is spoken?

An insanity plea is another alternative defense, in which the defense claims that the accused is mentally ill and lacked the capacity to regulate his behavior, create the intent to commit a crime, understand what he was doing, or recognize that his acts were illegal.

What Is the Penalty for Sexual Battery?

Sexual battery can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. If the defendant physically restrains the victim, performs battery on a juvenile or vulnerable victim, or uses deceit to commit the crime, felony sanctions may apply (such as a therapist saying the contact is medically necessary). Misdemeanors are often punishable by up to a year in jail. A felony sexual battery is frequently less serious than a felony rape, yet it can still result in significant prison time. In Tennessee, for example, aggravated sexual battery (including sexual contact) is a class B felony punishable by eight to thirty years in jail. (Tennessee Code 39-13-504.)

In states that do not utilize the phrase “sexual battery,” such conduct may be referred to as “unlawful sexual contact,” “criminal sexual conduct,” or “sexual abuse.”

What Is the Sentence For Sexual Battery?

If convicted of sexual battery, one’s sentence is determined by the facts of the case. This chart provides a broad guideline for the maximum sentences for certain situations. The exact sentence is determined by the sentencing guideline scorecard, which includes enhancements for sexual penetration, sexual contact, and harm, as well as a prior record.

Facts of the CaseDegree of Felony CrimeMaximum Sentence
The victim was age 18 years old or older with no aggravating factorsSecond Degree15 years in state prison
Sexual Battery with aggravated factorsFirst Degree30 years in state prison
Sexual Battery with a deadly weapon on a child 12 years old or olderLife FelonyLife imprisonment
Sexual Battery on a child 12 to 17 years oldFirst Degree30 years in state prison
Sexual Battery on a child under 12Life FelonyLife in state prison with no chance of early release

In most cases, those convicted of the sexual battery must register as sex offenders. This implies that if you are convicted, this one act could haunt you for the rest of your life. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney or the potential of a plea bargain, you may be able to save your future.

Do You Always Go to Prison if Charged With Sexual Battery?

No. I’ve had many situations where a client charged with sexual battery avoided prison totally, despite the fact that he was likely guilty of the felony. The state will frequently enter into plea discussions in order to avoid a trial for a variety of reasons.

For example, if the prosecutor believes their victim will not make a good victim, or if the victim’s family does not want to see the defendant imprisoned, the prosecutor may propose a deal in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty.

Sexual Battery Penalties: Imprisonment or incarceration.

Criminal sexual contact or sexual battery without penetration is usually regarded as a less serious crime than rape, and the penalty is less severe than the penalty for rape or criminal sexual penetration. In some areas, sexual battery is a felony crime, and criminal sexual contact that ends in personal damage or is performed with a dangerous weapon or by more than one person is usually a felony as serious as rape.

Depending on the facts and the state’s sentencing guidelines, sentences for this type of offense might range from one to many years in jail. Some states demand a minimum jail sentence or that the court impose a prison sentence without the possibility of probation or early parole. In some places, the judge may have some leeway in determining the length of the sentence and whether to allow the offender to serve some or all of the sentence on probation rather than in jail.

Criminal sexual contact without a weapon that involves simply force or compulsion is a misdemeanor in some states, not a felony. In most states, an offender guilty of a misdemeanor can be sentenced to up to one year in jail but is not compelled to serve time in prison.

Sexual Battery Penalty Treatment

Other than jail or prison, a person convicted of a sex crime will suffer sanctions or consequences. For example, sex offenders are typically forced to receive treatment, either in jail or prison or as a condition of probation.

Sexual Offender Registration Penalties

Every state in the United States has a scheme for registering and notifying sex offenders. Persons convicted of a sex offense must register with the sex offender registration in the state where they live, according to sex offender registry statutes. A sex offense requiring registration is typically defined as any crime that includes sexual penetration or sexual contact as a component.

So to register as a sex offender, a person must have his or her name, address, and details about the offense on file with the registry. Some or all of the information is available to the public. Also, each state maintains a sex offender website where the public can search.

Legal Defence Services

A sex crime is a serious criminal offense. Even a misdemeanor conviction for a sexual battery can have devastating consequences. Defendants face jail time or a lengthy prison sentence, as well as the stigma of being a convicted felon. (Felons are unable to vote or own firearms.) Many people believe that being obliged to register as a sex offender is the most onerous penalty because the designation “sex offender” has such a bad connotation in the public eye and can make getting a job and accommodation extremely difficult for the registered offender.

For these reasons, a person accused of the sexual battery should get qualified legal representation as soon as feasible. An expert criminal defense attorney will research your case completely, assist you in asserting any possible defenses, and guide you through the criminal court procedure. An attorney may be able to arrange a plea agreement involving a guilty plea to a lower offense that does not necessitate sex offender registration in some cases. If a plea agreement is not an option, a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with your state’s law and the local criminal court process can represent you at trial and ensure your rights are protected.

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