What is Sexual Abuse – How is it defined by California law?

Seeking justice against sexual abuse begins with understanding what sexual abuse actually is. If you are a victim and survivor of sexual assault, knowing your rights will help you recover and get your life back on track. A reputable Escondido sexual abuse attorney can help you realize the justice you deserve.

In the eyes of California sexual abuse laws, any person is prohibited to do unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts. The California Penal Code defines intimate parts as “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.” When sexual abuse leads to non-consensual intercourse with the victim, it is charged as rape.

If you or a loved one experiences situations mentioned above, please call Marino & Tye LLP at (760) 741-7643 right away. We provide you an expert sexual abuse attorney who can help you take the best course of action to get the legal justice you deserve.

How To Prove A Case Of Sexual Abuse

To prove a case of sexual abuse, it is crucial to establish the following elements:

  • That the defendant touched the victim’s intimate parts while the victim was restrained by the defendant or another person. The touching may occur through direct contact with the victim’s skin or indirect contact through the victim’s clothing.
  • That the touching was against the victim’s will; the victim did not consent to the contact.
  • That the defendant intended to engage in the unwanted touching for sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.

Note: If the defendant touched the victim for a non-sexual purpose, such as a medical professional conducting an examination, while not impossible, it might be an uphill battle for the prosecutor to establish the required elements for a successful case.

Sexual Abuse Penalties (Statutes: California Penal Code Section 243.5)

Misdemeanor sexual battery is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to USD 2,000. The fine can increase to USD 3,000 if the defendant was the employer of the victim.
Felony sexual battery has a range of punishments; the defendant could serve a term of imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and a fine of up to USD 2,000; however, the Califonia state laws also allow for imprisonment for up to 4 years and a fine of up to USD 10,000.


An accused might use consent as a defensive argument. If he/she can prove that sexual contact did not violate the victim’s will, due to the latter’s consent or permission, the prosecutor may not be able to establish the elements of sexual abuse or sexual assault. Consent often becomes a controversial defense because the argument may require a discussion of the victim’s history. It is important to note, however, when the alleged victim is a child or an individual lacking mental capacity, consent is not an acceptable defense.

Assembly Bill No. 218

AB 218 was signed into law to extends the statute of limitations of bringing sexual assault claims until the victim reaches 40 years old. Adults who recently discovered their assault are given five years to bring their claims.

The enactment of this bill is aimed at protecting the rights of survivors of childhood sexual assault. It will enable an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse in Escondido (and in California in general) to file claims regardless of their current age.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Abuse

♦ What Steps Should I Take If I Am a Victim of Sexual Assault?

The first step after sexual assault is to make sure that you have reached a point or place of safety as your health and safety is paramount. Next, seek help from the Sexual Assault Response Team of San Diego County. The team consists of a specially trained nurse examiner who can provide an evidentiary examination and medical support, a law enforcement officer to conduct an investigation and give emergency assistance, and a victim advocate who can provide emotional support, legal referrals, and information to the victim.

The team of Escondido sexual abuse attorneys from Marino & Tye LLP can help you navigate the legal process to bring the perpetrator to justice. Call us at (760) 741-7643 for FREE attorney consultation.

♦ How Do I Preserve DNA Evidence From Sexual Abuse?

Regarding DNA evidence, there are various ways in which it can be obtained and preserved. If you choose to involve the police, the perpetrator can be caught through DNA evidence gathered from the crime scene or through investigation. Other times, the evidence can be obtained from your body, clothe, and other personal belongings.”

You may also choose to undergo a sexual abuse forensic exam – also known as “rape kit” – to preserve possible DNA evidence and receive the necessary medical care. The process does not require you to report the crime to have an exam but having this exam can give you the chance to safely store evidence that can be useful at a later use.

♦ Why Is It Necessary To File a Civil Suit?

A civil lawsuit serves as an accountability mechanism against the perpetrator and provides the survivor a chance to tell their story. If you have already gone through the criminal process, it does not preclude you from filing a civil claim. In truth, a criminal conviction against the perpetrator may boost your civil claim.

There are several benefits to civil litigation. For one, the burden of proof in a criminal trial is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas in a civil trial, the burden is lower. It requires the plaintiff to prove the claim “by a preponderance of the evidence.” That means filing a civil suit provides a higher likelihood of success for holding the accused accountable. To that end, sexual assault is classified as a tort action, or personal injury claim, and the plaintiff can sue the perpetrator for monetary compensation.

Working With Marino & Tye LLP

Experiencing sexual abuse is tragic enough, and working with a legal team that delivers mediocre results will only add to the damage. That is why it crucial to choose the attorney you will work with carefully. You make sure that you are seeking help from those who are proven reputable.

The Escondido sexual abuse attorneys at Marino & Tye LLP have decades of combined experience in this field of law. You can rest assured that our team will guide you every step of the legal process until you get the justice you deserve.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to sexual abuse, contact Marino & Tye LLP today at (760) 741-7643 for a free consultation.