Sexual Assault Attorney Los Angeles
Most sexual assault cases are committed among acquaintances. 45% among friends, dates, and colleagues, with an additional 25% of sexual assaults committed by current or former partners. This familiarity can add to the ambiguity of the circumstances, making assault allegations among acquaintances some of the most difficult charges to prove and defend. If you have been accused of assault, early intervention by skilled and experienced criminal defense counsel is essential to preserve accurate memories and evidence and perhaps to prevent filing a criminal complaint.
The penalties for a sexual assault conviction are enormous: a $10,000 fine and a mandatory sentence of 3, 6, or 8 years in state prison, depending on the facts of the case. For the rest of their lives, convicted rapists must be registered as sexual offenders. A sexual assault conviction is also considered a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law.
Retaining skilled and experienced counsel early in a sexual assault investigation is necessary to preserve your options and protect your rights as a criminal defendant. As soon as you learn that you might be the target of such an investigation, or upon your arrest, you should contact RP Criminal Defense Law to schedule a consultation to permit our Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorneys to assess the strength of the prosecution’s case and to guide you through the criminal prosecution process. We are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario.
RP Defense Law provides aggressive individualized representation backed by experience and a thorough understanding of criminal law and criminal procedure. We know all the players—the police and investigators, the prosecutors in both state and federal jurisdictions, the judges who presided over Los Angeles area criminal courts, and the probation offices overseeing probation and parole.
What is Sexual Assault, Legally?
There is nothing simple about sexual assault. Its legal definition requires forcing a person to have sexual intercourse without consent, typically through force or coercion. A victim need not resist being considered sexual assault. California Penal Code Sec 261 elaborates on what it means to force a person into sexual intercourse. In California, assault is always charged as a felony.
It is considered Sexual Assault if the victim:
- Is incapable of providing consent because of a mental, developmental, or physical disability
- Was subjected to force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on herself by another
- Cannot resist because of intoxication or anesthesia
- Cannot resist because of being unconscious or asleep; unaware that the illegal act has been committed, or tricked into believing the act was part of a professional examination.
- Submits under the belief that the actor is the victim’s spouse, a belief induced by artifice, pretense, or concealment
- Submits under threat of retaliation against the victim or some other person; or
- Submits to the act through threats to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim or another, and the victim believes the actor is a public official.
The Difference Between Sexual Assault & Sexual Battery
Sexual touching without penetration can be characterized as sexual battery, a lesser charge, which ordinarily will be charged as a misdemeanor. California Penal Code sec 243.4(e)(1) defines the elements of sexual battery.
To be convicted of sexual battery, the prosecution must prove:
- An intimate part of the victim’s body was touched
- The touching was not consented to
- The touching was intended to have the specific intent to cause sexual arousal.
To be charged with a felony, the prosecution must prove that the touching was through force, restraint, or if done by fraudulently representing the touching as a professional purpose. A misdemeanor conviction for a sexual battery can result in a sentence of up to 6 months in county jail or if convicted of a felony, up to 4 years in state prison.
What is Statutory Assault in California?
Before the pandemic, about 40% of California teens were sexually active, despite the prohibition of statutory sexual assault. Under California Penal Code sec 261.5, statutory assault means having sexual intercourse with someone under 18. The case will be charged as a misdemeanor if the defendant is less than three years older than the purported victim. If the defendant is more than three years older, the case can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Statutory assault can be prosecuted even if there was consent to sexual conduct and it was consensual. If both actors are underage, they can be charged with statutory sexual assault. A defendant convicted of statutory assault does not have to register as a sex offender unless other charges mandate such registration.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Assault Charges
Can a spouse bring an assault charge?
Yes, under California Penal Code sec 262, a spouse can assault if there is no consent to sexual intercourse. In 2021, California modernized its spousal assault statute by prosecuting and punishing the crime with the same standards and penalties as sexual assault. Between 10-14% of women have claimed to have experienced spousal assault, although prosecutions are much rarer.
Can consent be withdrawn?
Yes, a sexual partner can withdraw consent during a sexual encounter. If the withdrawal of consent is clearly communicated, continuing to engage in sexual activity can result in charge of sexual assault.
Legal Defense for Sexual Assault Charges
A skilled criminal defense lawyer knows how to review the evidence to assess the strength of a prosecutor’s case. Although stranger assault is easier to prosecute, a thorough assessment can reveal weaknesses that can create reasonable doubt, have the charges dropped or lessened, or result in a favorable verdict. Whether to raise defenses such as mistaken identity, reasonable belief that consent was given, inadequate evidence, or false accusations based on remorse or revenge depends on the specific facts of each case.
Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer Serving Los Angeles & San Bernadino
Facing a charge of assault can be devastating. You deserve a fair assessment of the strength of the prosecution’s case to determine how best to proceed. You also deserve representation that will bring skill and expertise to examining the police reports and investigatory files, an independent investigation and laboratory testing to understand the weight of evidence fully, and the savvy one gets from years of experience representing criminal defendants in Los Angeles and San Bernadino courts. Our offices are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. Only seasoned criminal defense attorneys can realistically evaluate the evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the predilection of the trial judge. Contact us today for your initial consultation. A $250 fee will be charged and credited to your account if RP Criminal Defense Law is retained.