When you’re facing a sexual battery charge, your first instinct might be to call the person who claimed you hurt them and demand they drop the case, that they’re taking things out of context or they’re flat- out lying.
But that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. When you’re facing a sexual battery charge, the less you say to your alleged victim, the better. The person you should prioritize discussing the case with is an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can work with you to develop an effective legal defense strategy.
It can be hard to keep your mouth shut and keep yourself out of social media arguments when you’re accused of committing a sex crime. A sexual battery charge doesn’t just mean facing high fines and jail time; it can ruin your social and professional reputation long before you see the inside of the courtroom. But you need to stay focused on your future and that means taking the time to truly understand what sexual battery is and how to effectively defend yourself against your charge.
What is Sexual Battery?
In Indiana, sexual battery is defined as the act of sexually touching another person’s genitals, buttocks, pubic area or female breast when the other person cannot consent to the touching. Reasons why an individual might not be able to consent to sexual touching include:
- The perpetrator used force or threat of force to coerce the victim into sexual contact
- The victim faces a mental deficiency or disability that makes it impossible to consent to sexual contact
Sexual battery can be charged as a Level 4 felony or a Level 6 felony, depending on the circumstances of the alleged incident. Typically, it is charged as a Level 6 felony, but if the defendant is accused of at least one of the following, he may face a Level 4 felony charge:
- Using deadly force or threat of deadly force against the victim
- Committing sexual battery while armed with a deadly weapon
- Giving the victim a drug or controlled substance in order to commit the act of sexual battery or committing sexual battery against a victim he knew had been given a drug or other controlled substance
An individual convicted of a Level 6 felony faces a fine of up to $10,000 and anywhere from six months to 2.5 years in prison. For a Level 4 felony, the penalties are a prison sentence of two to 12 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Did I Commit Sexual Battery?
Whether an incident was or wasn’t an act of sexual battery isn’t always immediately clear. You might have engaged in some consensual contact with a date only to have them claim later that it wasn’t consensual. Or you might have been forced into contact with the alleged victim and despite it having no sexual motivation or gratification for you, you’re now being accused of intentionally groping or grabbing them. Sexual battery cases often exist in this kind of “gray area,” where the plaintiff and the defendant tell very different accounts of what actually happened.
But there’s no such thing as sort-of sexual battery or an incident that was kind of a sex crime. In the court’s eyes, you’re either guilty or not guilty – and you can only be found guilty if the State proves you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence the prosecution obtains to support the charge.
Admissible Evidence in a Sexual Battery Case
The things you say to law enforcement, your alleged victim and witnesses involved in the case may be used as evidence to support the charge. That’s why it’s in your best interest to avoid discussing your case with anybody except your lawyer.
A few examples of evidence that can be used to support a sexual battery charge include:
- Text messages
- Social media messages
- Statements made to law enforcement Photos and videos
Although it can be tempting to respond to a text message, a verbal accusation or something you find posted about yourself online, your response can potentially hurt your case more than it will help it. If you receive a threatening message related to your case, show it to your lawyer so he can advise you on how to handle it. Now isn’t the time to try to defend your honor or clear your name; leave that to your lawyer and the court.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
When you’re facing a sexual battery charge – or any kind of criminal charge, for that matter – the time to start developing a solid legal strategy is now. Be your own best advocate and schedule your legal consultation with Blankenship Law, LLC today to get effective legal advice personalized to your unique situation.