California Sexual Assault Laws
Last updated 11/20/2019
Crimes generally referred to as sexual assault (see FindLaw's Sex Crimes section) may be prosecuted through California's sexual assault, or sexual battery, laws. These laws prohibit unwanted touching of another person's intimate parts. The California Penal Code defines intimate parts as the victim's "sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female." When sexual assault leads to nonconsensual intercourse with the victim, it's charged as rape.
To prove a case of sexual battery, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:
- The defendant touched the victim's intimate parts while the victim was restrained by the defendant or another person. The touching may occur through direct contact to the victim's skin or indirect contact through the victim's clothing.
- The touching was against the victim's will. The prosecutor must establish that the victim did not consent to the contact.
- The defendant intended to engage in the unwanted touching for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse. If the defendant touched the victim for a non-sexual purpose, such as a medical professional conducting an examination, it might be more difficult for the prosecutor to establish the required elements for a successful case.
California Sexual Assault Laws: An Overview
For more information on specific California sexual assault laws, see the chart below.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Related Resources For California Sexual Assault Laws
- Sexual Assault Defenses
- Sexual Assault Penalties and Sentencing
- California Assault and Battery Laws
- California Rape Laws
- California Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws
Get Professional Help With Your Sexual Assault Case
If you're facing sexual assault charges, challenging victim testimony can be a delicate balancing act. In these and in any other sexual assault case, it's important to have a strong criminal defense attorney in your corner, one who understands the process and the best ways to present your defense.
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