In general, battery is the crime of intentionally touching a victim in a harmful or offensive manner without their consent. Sexual battery is a specific form of battery, wherein the harmful or offensive touching is sexual or done for sexual gratification.
North Carolina Statutory Sexual Offense with a Person 15 Years Old or Younger Lawyers
How Does North Carolina Define Sexual Battery?
Sexual battery in North Carolina is the crime of engaging in sexual contact with a victim without their consent and for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual abuse, or sexual arousal.
Under North Carolina law, sexual contact refers to touching a victim’s groin, buttocks, anus, or breast; having one’s own groin, anus, buttocks, or breast touch the victim; or the placing, ejaculating, or emitting of feces, semen, or urine upon the victim’s body. If a person’s actions go beyond just sexual contact, then they may be guilty of rape or a sexual offense.
What is a Sexual Offense in North Carolina?
Sexual offenses in North Carolina are defined as engaging in a sexual act, excluding vaginal intercourse, with a victim who did not or could not consent. Sexual acts include cunnilingus, fellatio, analingus, sodomy, and penetration of the victim’s genital or anal opening with an object. If the sexual act is done to a person under the age of 16, then the perpetrator may be guilty of a statutory sexual offense with a person who is 15 years of age or younger.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault occurs when someone engages in nonconsensual touching or contact of a sexual nature with another person. Generally, this involves force, the threat of force, or violence. Sexual battery requires penetration, but sexual assault does not.
Separate criminal laws in many states cover sexual assault. Despite the general definition above, state-specific requirements for committing this crime can vary. Fines and prison time can be imposed for sexual assault.
Sexual assault can be punished as aggravated assault in different states. Some state laws classify sexual assault as aggravated assault if the force or violence used causes bodily harm or injuries to the person who was sexually assaulted. Aggravated assault can carry harsher penalties than sexual assault, such as a longer prison sentence.
What Does “Sexual Touching or Contact” Include?
Sexual contact is defined as the conscious, intentional touching of an intimate or private part of another to arouse sexual desire. A person’s body may be touched directly or through their clothing.
Sexual touching can include inappropriately grabbing someone’s genitals, even if clothes cover them. The act of kissing someone without their consent or threatening them with unwanted sexual contact are other examples.
Some touching or contact involving another person’s intimate or private parts does not satisfy this element of sexual assault.
Are Sexual Battery and Sexual Assault the Same Crime?
All activities that constitute sexual battery fall under the broad definition of sexual assault. However, sexual assault also includes all other forms of unwanted sexual contact that are not included in rape, such as penetration of a sexual organ with an object and fellatio. North Carolina has chosen to separate sexual battery from other forms of sexual assault and make it into its own crime.
What are Some Defenses to Sexual Assault?
There are other possible defenses to sexual assault charges besides the medical and parental exceptions discussed above. Consent to sexual contact is one defense. Sexual assault will not occur if the touching is not unwanted.
Words or actions can establish consent. For example, telling someone “kiss me” could establish consent, provided there was no coercion. Just because someone is married does not mean there will always be consent. It is still possible for spouses to sexually assault their partners.
Insanity or diminished mental capacity are also possible defenses. As a result, the person committing the assault may not be liable for their actions. This is harder to prove but could still lead to the person being committed to a treatment facility.
How Does North Carolina Define Sexual Battery?
North Carolina law defines sexual battery as engaging in sexual contact with a victim against their will or by force for the purpose of sexual gratification. This crime can also be charged if the victim is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or mentally disabled, and the perpetrator knew or should have known that the victim was mentally incapacitated, physically helpless, or mentally disabled.
What Is Sexual Contact?
North Carolina defines sexual contact as touching the sexual organ, groin, anus, breast, or buttocks or using any other body part to touch another person. The act of ejaculating, emitting, or placing urine, feces, or semen on another person is also considered sexual contact.
How Can a Person Commit a Statutory Sexual Offense with a Person Who Is 15 Years of Age or Younger?
A person is guilty of committing a statutory sexual offense with a person who is 15 years of age or younger if:
- The perpetrator is at least 12 years old
- There is at least a four-year age difference between the victim and the perpetrator
- The victim is 15 years old or younger
- A sexual act other than vaginal intercourse occurred between the perpetrator and minor
- The perpetrator and the victim were not legally married to one another at the time that the crime was committed
Will I Go to Prison for Sexual Battery in North Carolina?
No. As a Class A1 misdemeanor crime, sexual battery can only result in jail time at worst. A Class A1 misdemeanor conviction can result in an active, intermediate, or community punishment. First-time misdemeanor offenders are sentenced for one to 60 days, but if they have received prior misdemeanor convictions, they may be sentenced to a maximum of 150 days.
What Is the Difference Between the Three Different Kinds of Punishment?
Jail time or probation are the main differences between the three forms of punishment for a Class A1 misdemeanor. Active punishments consist entirely of jail time. As an intermediate punishment, jail time can be combined with supervised probation, or supervised probation can be the sole punishment.
Other forms of alternative punishment can be added to supervised probation, such as participation in a court drug treatment program, community service, and house arrest.
A community punishment can include:
- Either supervised probation or unsupervised probation.
- A fine, community service.
- House arrest.
- Other alternative punishments.
Can I Be Charged with This Crime If the Alleged Victim Consented to the Sexual Act?
Yes. The age of consent is 16 years old in North Carolina. Anyone under the age of consent cannot legally give consent to engage in any type of sexual act with an adult. It does not matter if the minor pretended to be older or told the adult they were of consenting age.
What is the Punishment for This Criminal Offense?
A person’s punishment for this crime depends on the age gap between them and their victim. The crime is classified as a Class C felony if the person is four to six years older than the minor.
If convicted of a Class C felony for the first time, they will receive a punishment of 58 to 73 months in prison. In contrast, if the victim is 6 years or younger than the perpetrator, then the perpetrator is guilty of a Class B1 felony. For a first-time Class B1 felony conviction in North Carolina, a prison sentence of 192 to 240 months is imposed.
Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Case?
If you are accused or charged with committing any type of sexual offense, contact a North Carolina criminal lawyer immediately. They can explain your rights to you and help you in putting together a defense strategy for your case.
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