Sexual Battery Charges
Allegations of sexual battery in North Carolina are often confused with the myriad of other sexual assault and rape crimes. Sexual battery differs from rape and other forcible sexual offenses in that sexual battery involves allegations of “sexual contact, which is less serious than forcible rape or forcible sexual offenses. Nonetheless, sexual battery is still a very serious crime in North Carolina and carries harsh and often lifelong consequences if convicted, including being placed on the Sex Offender Registry. If you’re facing allegations of sexual battery, you must hire experienced criminal defense attorneys who routinely defend persons accused of sex offenses.
What is Sexual Battery?
Sexual Battery, according to N.C Gen. Stat. 14-27.33, “A person is guilty of sexual battery if the person, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, engages in sexual contact with another person:
- By force and against the will of the other person; or
- Who has a mental disability or who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know that the other person has a mental disability or is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.
What sets apart sexual contact in battery cases from rape or other forcible sexual offenses is that battery does not have to involve any kind of penetrative or oral sexual intercourse. Sexual contact, in battery cases, includes:
- Touching the sex organ, anus, breast, groin or buttocks of the victim
- Touching the victim with one’s own sexual organ, anus, breast, groin or buttocks
- Ejaculating, emitting, or placing semen, urine or feces on the victim
- Forcing a kiss on the victim’s mouth
Touching means physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the victim.
Penalties for Conviction of Sexual Battery
If you are convicted of sexual battery you will be guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor, the most serious classification of misdemeanor in North Carolina. The punishment can include up to 150 days of imprisonment.
Generally, the sentencing will account for your criminal record and any past offenses and would likely be much harsher if you have been previously convicted of a sex offense. In addition to these penalties, your name will be placed on North Carolina’s sex offender registry for 30 years. This will heavily impact many aspects of daily living including housing, employment, mobility and your reputation. You may be able to have your name removed from the registry after 10 years if you file a special petition with the court, though there is no guarantee your request will be granted.
Defending Sexual Battery Cases
The greatest hurdle the state must prove in a sexual battery case is that the “sexual contact” was for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or sexual abuse. This can depend heavily on the act itself, many of which can be performed by accident, such as accidently grazing another person’s buttocks or breasts.
Accidental Contact Defense
Accidental or mistaken contact is a common defense against sexual battery, as many of these acts of touching can be done without sexual intent or any intent at all. For such a defense, the defendant’s credibility is crucial, as they must make it clear that their intentions were not sexual in nature, or they did not even intend to touch the alleged victim at all.
Confusion About Consent Defense
Confusion about consent is another potential defense but can be much more challenging in many cases as it comes down to the defendant’s personal testimony against the alleged victim’s testimony. It also could involve a tacit or even direct admission that the act was performed with sexual intent, which prosecution could use against you. It could still be a worthwhile defense in cases where the defendant and alleged victim engaged in consensual sexual contact in the past. However, having had prior consensual sexual contact with the alleged victim is not a defense in and of itself. This is even true in the case of spouses. Under N.C Gen. Stat. § 14-27.34, an accused cannot claim a defense to sexual contact based on the fact that the alleged victim is the accused’s spouse.
Hiring an Experienced Attorney
The verdict for these cases can be determined by the smallest details. You need to contact experienced sex offense crime lawyers who can build a rigorous defense that takes into account all the aspects of your case.