Sexual battery is a term describing a sexual crime that involves criminal sexual contact or touching. The difference between sexual battery and rape is that sexual battery does not involve intercourse or other kinds of forced sexual penetration.
Sexual battery can occur while the victim is clothed, as well as unclothed. However, while some states use the term “sexual battery” to describe sexual touching of a criminal nature, other states use the term to refer to the more serious sex crimes of rape or forced penetration. To explore this concept, consider the following sexual battery definition.
Definition of Sexual Battery
- The act of intentionally or recklessly engaging in, or causing, offensive or unwanted sexual contact with a person’s body.
- An unwanted form of sexual contact with an intimate part of someone’s body.
Origin of Battery
1525-1535 Middle French batterie
What is Sexual Battery
Sexual battery is a term that is used to refer to contact made with someone’s body that is both sexual in nature, and unwanted, or forced. The difference between sexual battery and rape or sexual assault is that the latter two behaviors involve the act of sexual penetration without the person’s consent. A charge of sexual battery does not require penetration. An example of sexual battery is that which involves physical contact with an intimate part of someone else’s body without that person’s consent.
Typically, sexual battery is defined as touching an intimate part of someone’s body – whether the person is either dressed or undressed – for the purpose of arousing him sexually, but without his consent. another example of sexual battery is the act of forcing someone else to touch an intimate body part on the offender’s body, for the purpose of sexual arousal.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
Laws governing sexual battery and other sex crimes vary by state. However, the crime of aggravated sexual battery is a more serious form of sexual battery in any jurisdiction. Aggravated sexual battery involves any of the following during commission of the battery:
- The use of force, coercion, or a weapon
- Physical harm or injury to the victim
- The use of more than one perpetrator
- The victim is mentally or physically incapacitated
- The victim is a minor (usually under a specified age)
Difference Between Sexual Battery and Rape
In some states, there is no difference between sexual battery and rape. If someone forces another person to have sexual intercourse with him, or if he forcibly penetrates the victim’s body in any way, which is considered rape in most states, it is considered sexual battery in others.
However, there is generally considered to be a difference between sexual battery and rape. The former term is more often used to describe contact or touching that is forced upon the victim without the victim’s consent, and for the purpose of arousal. Insofar as arousal is concerned, the offender may be forcing the victim to become aroused against his or her will. In other examples of sexual battery, the offender may engage in sexual touching – whether touching the victim, or forcing the victim to touch him – in order to sexually arouse himself.
Consent is the key element in any form of sexual behavior. If someone does not give his or her consent before being sexually touched or penetrated, then the person doing the touching or penetrating is committing a crime. Similarly, there are certain categories of people who are, by definition, incapable of giving their consent, or who have a diminished mental capacity that denies them the ability to give consent.
Those who fall under this category include:
- Minors under the age of fourteen or fifteen (or as specified in the state’s laws)
- Developmentally disabled people
- The mentally ill
- Incapacitated people, such as those who are intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, or who are otherwise physically helpless to stop the act from occurring
Sexual Conduct with a Minor
In certain states, sexual conduct with a minor is only illegal if the offender is older than the victim by a defined number of years, and the victim is under a certain age. For instance, if a 15-year-old girl is dating an 18-year-old boy, then the two can have sexual contact with each other in certain states without the boy’s actions being deemed criminal.
This is why most high school relationships do not result in senior boys being led out of school in handcuffs for having relationships with sophomore girls. However, if a 21-year-old in the same state has sexual contact with that 15-year-old, then his actions can be prosecuted, as his engaging in sexual conduct with a minor is a felony.
Sexual Battery by a Healthcare Provider or other Person of Authority
In many states, it is considered a crime for a person in authority, such as a teacher, doctor, or police officer, to have sexual conduct with a subordinate, such as a student, a patient, or a person in police custody. The logic behind this is that the victim’s ability to give consent is compromised by the fact that the offender has authority over the victim. They may feel powerless to do anything other than submit to the offender, which is not considered giving consent.
More specifically, sexual battery by a healthcare provider occurs when a doctor in any capacity, be it physician, nurse, or psychotherapist, makes advances toward a patient. The law in many states renders a patient incapable of consenting to such acts. In fact, particularly in the case of a psychotherapist, the patient is often emotionally compromised already, making him or her unable to consent.
Penalties for Sexual Battery
There are three penalties for sexual battery that a person can incur: imprisonment, treatment, and being registered as a sex offender. Typically, someone convicted on a sexual battery charge is subjected to multiple penalties for sexual battery, not just one.
Imprisonment for Sexual Battery
Imprisonment is one of the penalties for sexual battery, though an offender is not always sentenced to prison. This is because, typically, sexual battery is a less serious crime than rape or forced sexual penetration and, as such, the accused is subjected to lighter penalties, such as probation. However, if the offender’s behavior resulted in personal injury, or if he committed the act while in possession of a deadly weapon or with an accomplice, then the act is bumped up to a felony.
The offender may receive a sentence of several years in prison, depending on both the circumstances of the case, and the sentencing guidelines of the state wherein the incident occurred. Some states require that the offender be given a minimum prison sentence, or that the court deny the possibilities of probation or early parole. In other states, the court may be permitted to use its own discretion when handing down a sentence, insofar as its length and whether or not to offer probation as an option.
If there is no weapon involved, no physical injury, and the victim is a competent adult, the sexual battery is typically considered to be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in jail, but the offender is not necessarily required to do time. It is common to sentence such an offender to several years’ probation, and he or she may still be required to register as a sex offender.
Treatment as a Sex Offender
Those convicted of a sex crime will also face other penalties for sexual battery in addition to the jail time they may have received. Treatment as a sex offender is one of those penalties. Sex offenders are normally required to undergo treatment at a program either at the jail itself, or offsite as a condition of their probation.
Sex Offender Registry
Every state has its own sex offender registry. The related statutes require that someone convicted of certain sex crimes register as a sex offender in the state in which he lives. Someone convicted of even a minor sex crime, like sexual battery, must still register as a sex offender. This entails the sex offender’s name, address, and information about the crime being kept on file with the registry.
Each state decides whether to make all or a portion of that information available to the public, which residents can find via their state’s sex offender website. Also, the federal government collects this information from each state, making it available on their National Sex Offender registry.
Sexual Battery Example Involving a Celebrity
In 2015, the rapper known as “The Game,” whose real name is Jayceon Taylor, was accused by a woman of sexual battery. Priscilla Rainey, who was a contestant on a reality TV show called She Got Game, filed a civil lawsuit, claiming that Taylor had forced put his hand up her dress to touch and rub her vagina and buttocks. She said that Taylor had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time, and she revealed that the rapper had forced unwanted sexual touching on her a number of times.
The incident leading to the lawsuit occurred when Taylor invited Rainey to an “after-hours date,” which she was led to believe was a mandatory part of the show. It was on that date that Taylor touched the woman sexually, several times. In the sexual battery lawsuit, Rainey asked the court to award her $10 million in damages. Ultimately, a federal court ordered the rapper to pay Rainey over $7 million in damages.
Related Legal Terms and Issues
- Civil Lawsuit – A lawsuit brought about in court when one person claims to have suffered a loss due to the actions of another person.
- Felony – A crime, often involving violence, regarded as more serious than a misdemeanor. Felony crimes are usually punishable by imprisonment more than one year.