Sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape are often used to describe a variety of sex crimes. Because these are “legal” terms, their actual definitions are frequently misinterpreted. Unfortunately, celebrity tabloids, news sources and other media just add to the confusion. Below is a brief description of these commonly used terms.
Sexual battery (Penal Code 243.4), in California, takes place when someone touches another’s “intimate part” (a female’s breast or anyone’s buttocks, anus, groin, or sexual organ) without consent and for a sexual purpose. Depending on the circumstances, the crime may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
California looks at “sexual assault” as sort of a catchall phrase that includes any type of offensive sexual contact. It can refer to sexual battery, rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or other sexual acts that are done against one’s will or without one’s consent. Sexual assault is not a crime in-and-of itself, but rather is a term used to describe a wide variety of California sex offenses.
Rape is always a felony offense in California and is defined under California Penal Code section 261 as nonconsensual sexual intercourse. This California sex crime may be charged any time there is an act of intercourse, no matter how slight the penetration is. A California rape conviction will result in a three, six or eight year sentence in the California State Prison.