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Sexual Battery Law & Defense

PC 243.4

Information on the crime of sexual battery is found at California penal code section 243.4 & 243.4(e)(1). Sexual battery means to touch another person in a sexual manner without consent. A sexual manner means to arouse the defendant or attempt to arouse the victim (PC 243.4). There are several variations of sexual battery charges depending on the facts of the case.

Sexual Battery Laws

PC 243.4(a) Sexual batter by restraint: 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 (PC 243.4(a)) [Abbrev.].

PC 243.4(b) Sexual battery of a disabled person: Any person who touches an intimate part of another person who is institutionalized for medical treatment and who is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and if the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(b)) [Abbrev.].

PC 243.4(c) Sexual battery by fraud: Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery (PC 243.4(c)) [Abbrev.].


Touching: The touching does not have to be skin to skin. The touching may be through the clothing of the defendant or the clothing of the victim, or both, but the touching must be against the intimate part of the victim's body.

Intimate Part: An intimate part means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.

Seriously Disabled: Seriously disabled means a person with severe physical or sensory disabilities.

Medically Incapacitated: Medically incapacitated means a person who is incapacitated as a result of prescribed sedatives, anesthesia, or other medication.

Institutionalized: Institutionalized means a person who is located voluntarily or involuntarily in a hospital, medical treatment facility, nursing home, acute care facility, or mental hospital.

Restrained: Unlawfully restrained means that the liberty of a person is controlled by words, acts, or authority. Unlawful restraint requires more than just the physical force necessary to accomplish the sexual touching.

Element of PC 243.4(a): To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of sexual battery by restraint, the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • Unlawfully restrained another person

  • Touched the intimate part of the person restrained

  • The touching was done against the victim's will (without consent)

  • The touching was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse


The crime of sexual battery is considered a wobbler, which means the crime of sexual battery may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Both misdemeanor and felony sexual battery charges are filed under the same criminal code sections (PC 243.4 or 243.4(e)(1)).

Jail or Prison Sentence: If sexual battery is charged as a felony under any PC 243.4 charge, the defendant may face up to four (4) years in prison, If sexual battery is charged as a misdemeanor under any PC 243.4 charge, the defendant may face up to one (1) year in county jail.

Probation Sentence: Probation, with or without a jail or prison sentence, may be available in some sexual battery cases, even for felony sexual battery cases. Probation is a period of time (usually four (4) years) in which the defendant is placed on supervision as opposed to actual jail. Misdemeanor probation, also known as informal or summary probation, is not supervised by a probation officer.


Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of any sexual battery charge under PC 243.4, 243.4(e)(1), or other, the defendant will be ordered to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration includes registering the defendant's name and address with local law enforcement no less than once a year and within five (5) days of the defendant's birthday every year. Other conditions may apply depending on the defendant's status and any other sex crimes convictions associated with a sexual battery charge.

Crime of Moral Turpitude: A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is morally wrong. Sexual battery may be considered a crime of moral turpitude depending on the circumstances of the case, such as whether or not the defendant inflicted great bodily injury on the victim during the sexual battery. Crimes of moral turpitude carry harsh collateral consequences for immigrants and licensed professionals.

Additional Punishments: In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of the crime of sexual battery, the defendant may face any of the additional punishments: penalty fines, criminal protective orders (restraining orders), civil lawsuits, harsh probation or parole terms, loss of family law rights, loss of the right to possess a firearm, and more.

Defenses: There is no perfect defense that applies to every sexual battery case as every case is different; however, there are defenses that are common to a sexual battery case. These common defenses include: Consent to touch, mistake of fact, jury nullification, coerced confessions, intoxication, insanity, and more.


To learn more about sexual battery crimes charged under PC 243.4, PC 243.4(e)(1)), and more, call our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Call today!


Quick Reference​ Sheet

Crime: Sexual Battery

Code: PC 243.4 (CalCrim No. 935-938)

Wobbler: Yes. PC 243.4 is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 243.4 may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.

Incarceration:Felony PC 243.4 sentence range: 2, 3, or 4 years. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is allowed in felony and misdemeanor PC 243.4 cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 243.4 is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a felony conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 243.4 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 243.4 is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: Felony PC 243.4 convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing firearms. Misdemeanor convictions prohibit the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years. 

Registration: If convicted of PC 243.4 the defendant is required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. Applies to both misdemeanor and felony PC 243.4 convictions.

Bail: $50,000 (Felony) $25,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)

Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This info is created for that purpose only; accuracy is not guaranteed. No attorney/client relationship is formed by use of this info. If arrested or charged with a crime contact a lawyer without delay. 

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Related Crimes

  • Sexual battery of unconscious victim PC 243.4(c)

  • Sexual battery by forced masturbation PC 243.4(d)