Recently a former Los Angeles teachers assistant was arrested for sexual battery on a student. On Wednesday, Pil Mendez was arrested on one charge of sexual battery and three counts of molesting or annoying an underage girl. It is claimed that Mr. Mendez on multiple occasions made sexual comments and inappropriately touched a female student. Although the charges are serious, Mr. Mendez is only being held on a $50,000.00 bond meaning he typically could get out on bail by paying a bail bondsman 10% of the amount set for bail. Being charged with a sex crime in California is always serious and whether or not a criminal defense attorney can get an acquittal, reduction in charges or a dismissal of the charges the fact that a person is accused of a sex crime can lead to a stigma that will last many years or even a lifetime. If charged with a sex crime in California whether it is date rape, sexual battery or crimes involving minors, you potentially could face time in a California prison and one should always consult with a California criminal lawyer that has the experience and expertise to defend against charges that could lead to a loss of freedom for a long time.
- Sexual Battery — California Criminal Charges
A person may be convicted of sexual battery in California pursuant to California Penal Code section 243.4(e)(1) if the prosecution can prove:
(a) The accused touched an intimate part of the alleged victim’s anatomy;
(b) The touching was done against the will of the alleged victim; and
(c) The touching of the alleged victim was done for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse.
The term “touching” means making physical contact with another person which includes contact made through the clothing of another. An act constituting a violation of Penal Code section 243.4(e)(1) which is considered “against a person’s will occurs if the alleged victim does not consent to the act. In order to consent a defendant must show that the alleged victim acted freely and voluntarily and knew the nature of the act. Often times sexual battery cases can arise not only with minor victims but situations involving alleged date rape. In those contexts defenses regarding consent can lead to the reduction or dismissal of charges if there is evidence that the conduct was voluntary with the knowledge and consent of the alleged victim.
Penalties for sexual battery will depend on whether a defendant is convicted of misdemeanor or felony battery. The sentence for misdemeanor sexual battery can be up to one year in county jail and up to a $2,000.00 fine (fine can be up to $3000.00 if the victim was an employee of the defendant.) A sentence for a felony conviction of sexual battery is 2, 3 or 4 years in the state prison and up to a $10,000.00. Sexual battery is a wobbler and the prosecution has the discretion to charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor. Typically more serious alleged conduct will result in a felony charge like significant grouping where an alleged defendant physically holds a victim down against their will and puts their hands inside a victims underwear or clothes. Less serious conduct such as slapping a person’s buttocks with their clothes on may result in a misdemeanor battery charge. Oftentimes a person with a significant criminal background that engages in what otherwise would be misdemeanor conduct may be charged with a felony if they had a history sexually related criminal convictions.
Conviction of either a misdemeanor or felony sexual battery charge will carry a lifetime condition of having to register as sex pursuant to California Penal Code section 290. Because the lifetime consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction for sexual battery is usually permanent it is best to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer immediately after being arrested or accused of any sex crime whether the allegations take place in Los Angeles, West Covina, Palmdale, Pasadena or any other city in California.
- Sex Offenses Involving Minors
As with the alleged charges against Mr. Mendez in Los Angeles, a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor can sometimes lead to a life sentence in a California state prison. Pursuant to California Penal Code section 288(a) it is unlawful to engage in lewd or lascivious conduct with a minor 14 years or younger. A conviction for this type of conduct occurs where a person touches a child on his or her body for a sexual purpose or gratification. Clearly, these types of cases can be very emotional and often times involve conduct that is claimed to have occurred years before a complaint and unfortunately involving conduct among family members. A person accused of such crime unfortunately probably has more of an uphill battle in defending these types of charges as accusations involving children are not taken lightly by a prosecutor in California and defense will have to work vigorously doing a lot of pretrial investigation to successfully defend such charges either for the purposes of a plea negotiation or trial.
Sentences for a conviction of penal code section 288 include up to 8 years in a California State Prison if the minor was under 14 years of age. If force was used against a minor under 14 years then the sentence can be up to 10 years in state prison. Moreover, the alleged criminal conduct occurred in 3 or more separate incidents over a 3 month period or greater, the a defendant can face a state prison sentence of up to 16 years.
If the conduct occurred between a minor who was 14 to 15 years old and the defendant was 10 years older than a defendant will face a sentence of up to 3 years in state prison.
Moreover, a conviction under California Penal Code section 288 is considered a strike under the Three Strikes Law in California which means that a state prison sentence will require a defendant to serve over 80% of their sentence and be exposed to increased penalties for any subsequent felony convictions.
If the alleged victim is 16 or 17 years old at the time of the offense, the charges may be reduced to a statutory rape or sexual battery depending on the circumstance of the case.
Finally, like most sexual offenses in California, a conviction for a violation of California Penal Code section 288 will lead to a lifetime sexual registration requirement which means a defendant will have to register as a sex offender on his or her birthday every year or when they move for the rest of their lives.
If you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime in California, you should immediately contact an experienced California criminal attorney to protect your rights and defend yourself against a lifetime of consequences for any potential felony or misdemeanor conviction. Call 844-210-1701.