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Sex Crimes Lawyer: Sexual Battery

People accused of sex crimes are often confused about how they found themselves in such a predicament. Seemingly consensual sex can lead to a charge of second degree rape if a willing partner is too young to provide legal consent or is otherwise unable to legally say yes because as a student or person in custody of a state agency. A drunken encounter can lead to rape charges if one person is too intoxicated to understand the nature of the act, and the other is perceived as having taken advantage of the situation.

Sexual battery is another case in which a misunderstanding can lead to serious criminal charges. Although the offense describes an assault that does not involve sexual penetration and which falls short of rape, it is still a Level 3 sex offense that, like rape, requires lifetime sex offender registration.

What one person perceives as a friendly or flirtatious gesture can be construed by another as a sexual violation. When this occurs, swift and assertive defense counsel is imperative. Although you may be shocked at the accusations against you, it is critical to understand that you must not speak with investigators—even in your own defense—without the advice and representation of an experienced sex crime defense lawyer.

Understanding Sexual Battery

Rape is nonconsensual sexual penetration. Lewd acts with a minor is the molestation or sexual abuse of child under the age of 16. Sexual battery is a criminal offense against a person aged 16 or older—the legal age of consent in Oklahoma—that does not meet the legal requirements for rape or rape by instrumentation, both of which involve any degree of vaginal or anal penetration.

In many ways, sexual battery is a catch-all for sex acts that do not fall under any other statute. In fact, the law defining and penalizing sexual  battery is found in the statute pertaining to child molestation, Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child under 16 (21 O.S. § 1123).

Under this law, sexual battery occurs when it involves intentional, sexual contact with a person aged 16 or older under one or more of the following criteria:

  • Without consent
  • When committed by an employee of a state, county, or city agency against a person in the custody of or under the control of that agency
  • When committed by a school system employee aged 18 or older against a person between the ages of 16 and 20 who is a student of the same school system

Just as a person can be charged with statutory rape or forcible sodomy for engaging in sexual activity with a willing participant who is unable to provide legal consent, a person can be charged with sexual battery for having sexual physical contact with a person who cannot legally consent to such activity.

The statute defining sexual battery is purposefully vague in order to criminalize a wide range of nonconsensual sexual contact. Because of this, a sexual battery charge can apply to a violent sexual assault as well as to an unwanted kiss or a flirtatious yet ill-advised slap on the behind. Regardless of the degree of force used in a sexual battery case, the act is a felony sex crime that carries serious penalties—up to 10 years in prison and being branded as a sex offender for life.

Sexual Battery Defense in Oklahoma

In order to obtain a conviction for sexual battery, the state’s prosecutors must prove all elements of sexual battery.  In 21 O.S. 1123(B), Oklahoma law states, “’Sexual battery’ shall mean the intentional touching, mauling or feeling of the body or private parts of any person sixteen (16) years of age or older, in a lewd and lascivious manner without the consent of that person.” Remember, “consent” refers to legal consent, so a person may agree to the contact and still have been legally unable to provide that consent.

Deconstructing the definition places the burden of proof upon the prosecution to demonstrate four specific criteria, all of which must be met in order to prove that a sexual battery took place:

  1. “Intentional” – The accused must have purposefully and willfully come in contact with the victim. Accidental or incidental contact with a person’s body or private parts does not constitute sexual battery.
  2. “Touching, mauling or feeling of the body” – There must be physical contact. A lewd suggestion may offend another person, but without physical contact, there is no sexual battery.
  3. “Lewd or lascivious manner” – We have already established that physical contact must be intentional, but it must also be sexual in nature. Patting a person on the rear has much different context if it occurs between athletes during a game or if it occurs between co-workers at the office or between strangers on the street.
  4. “Without the consent of that person” – If intentional physical sexual contact occurs between two consenting people over the age of 16 who are not otherwise prohibited from providing consent, there is no crime. Sexual battery is nonconsensual.

Although the incident that precipitates a sexual battery arrest may seem minor, a felony sex crime charge is not something to take lightly. Coventon Criminal Defense provides a free consultation to help you understand how we can help. Submit our confidential online case review form to learn more.

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