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Sexual Assault & Battery Attorneys

Breaking it down

Sexual battery charges are complicated and involve a number of factors to prove guilt. Cases are highly individualized, and charges can be misdemeanors with a year or less of jail time, or felonies with sentences up to 20 years in prison and $100,000 fine.

  • Sexually battery generally involves forcibly touching someone without their consent and with a sexual motivation
  • Lack of intent to sexually abuse someone may be a defense
  • Consent also may be a defense if the person was legally able to agree to be touched

Accusations of sex crimes often exist in gray areas. Maybe your hand accidentally brushed against someone’s body, or a friendly pat was misinterpreted as an unwanted and forced sexual advance.

In Virginia, being charged with one of the several forms of sexual battery is a serious and complex legal situation that may have a lasting effect on your life even if you are found not guilty. In some instances, being convicted means having to register as a sex offender, which may affect where you can live, what kinds of jobs you can have, custody of your children, and public places you can go — not to mention the social stigma associated with being branded a sex offender.

Having an experienced Roanoke sex offense lawyer can be crucial in understanding all of the possible consequences of a conviction. A skilled attorney also can help decide if defenses to the charge are available to you, for example if the other person consented to being touched, or if you lacked the intent to sexually abuse the alleged victim.

Simple Sexual Battery

Virginia Code §18.2-67.4 makes it a serious misdemeanor crime to sexually abuse another person. The offense occurs when the accused:

  • Intentionally touches another person’s intimate body parts
  • Using force, threat, intimidation, or ruse
  • Or forces the person to touch the intimate body parts of the accused or another person
  • With the intention to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify
  • Against the other person’s will

Touching the clothing covering someone’s intimate body parts — a bra or underwear, for example — also counts for purposes of the sexual battery statute.

Virginia Code § 18.2-67.10 defines intimate parts as the other person’s genitals, anus, groin, breast, or buttocks.

The simple sexual battery statute includes special provisions making it a misdemeanor to sexually abuse a jail or prison inmate or parolee when you hold a position of authority over that person.

Simple sexual battery is punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.

Aggravated Sexual Battery

Virginia Code §18.2-67.3 defines four instances when sexual battery can be considered aggravated and becomes a more serious felony charge.

An aggravated sexual battery charge includes all of the elements of simple sexual battery, plus one of these allegations:

  • Sexual abuse of a person under 13
  • Sexual abuse of a person who is mentally or physically disabled
  • Sexual abuse of a teenager by a parent, grandparent, or step-grandparent
  • Sexual abuse using force, threat, or intimidation when the victim is 13 or 14, the accused causes serious bodily or mental injury to the victim, or the accused used or threatened to use a dangerous weapon

An aggravated sexual battery conviction can carry a prison sentence of one to 20 years and a maximum $100,000 fine.

Sexual Battery When Infected

Virginia Code §18.2-67.4 .1 creates a special felony sexual battery offense when someone intentionally tries to infect someone else with certain sexually transmitted diseases.

The offense occurs when a person:

  • Is infected with HIV, syphilis, or hepatitis B
  • Knows it
  • And has sexual contact with another person with the intention of transmitting the infection

The penalty upon conviction of an infected sexual battery felony may include one to five years in prison and a maximum $2,500 fine.

The offense is a misdemeanor if the person didn’t intend to transmit the infection, but knew about the infection and failed to disclose it to his or her sexual partner. A conviction on this type of infected sexual battery can carry a sentence of up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.

Virginia Code §18.2-62 says that when you’re arrested for this offense, the prosecutor may ask you to submit to testing for HIV or hepatitis B or C infection. If you refuse, the prosecutor may be able to seek a court order requiring you to be tested. The statute requires that any results appearing positive be confirmed, and that your results remain confidential except for being disclosed to the alleged sexual assault victim. Test results under this statute are not admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Attempted Sexual Battery

Under Virginia Code §18.2-67.5, conviction for an attempted simple sexual battery carries the same penalty as a completed offense — up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.

The penalty for an attempted aggravated sexual battery is slightly less severe than for a completed offense. The attempted charge carries a possible sentence of one to five years in prison and a maximum $2,500 fine.

Special Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Virginia Code §18.2-67.5:1 makes a conviction on a charge of sexual battery or attempted sexual battery a felony if you have two previous convictions on either of those charges in the last 10 years. Convictions for consensual sex with a child or indecent exposure also will count toward making the current conviction a third offense for purposes of the statute. The penalty for a third conviction may include up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.

Under some circumstances, Virginia Code §18.2-67.5:2 says that you have to get the maximum sentence authorized by law when convicted of aggravated sexual battery. The statute allows no possibility for having any portion of your sentence suspended. This provision kicks in if you have a previous conviction for aggravated battery or another felony sexual assault offense.

Sex Offender Registration in Virginia

Aggravated sexual battery, and attempted aggravated sexual battery are considered “sexually violent offenses” under Virginia law. A conviction for any of these charges may require you to register as a sex offender. A conviction for a sexually violent offense means having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.

You also may be required to register as a sex offender on a first conviction of sexual battery if you were 18 or older at the time of the offense, and your victim was under the age of 6.

A second for sexual battery or attempted sexual battery may require registration when the victim was a minor or was physically or mentally disabled.

Registration may be required upon a third conviction for simple sexual battery or attempted sexual battery.

Registration as a sex offender affects where you can live, what kinds of jobs you can hold, and even whether you can set foot in some public places such as libraries.

Sex Crimes Defenses

When you’re charged with sexual battery, a prosecutor generally has to prove:

  • You did in fact touch the other person’s intimate parts
  • You intended to do so
  • You had a sexual motive for doing so
  • You used force, threat, intimidation, or ruse
  • The touching was against the other person’s will

Proving your intentions and motivations can be tricky. The prosecutor needs some external evidence to show a judge or jury what was going in your head. Being able to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s version of the facts may result in your case being dismissed, or your penalties being reduced if you are convicted.

Sex offenses such as sexual battery often come down to witness testimony and seemingly small details. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can go over all of the details of your case and recognize which details might throw the prosecutor’s case into question, or raise questions about whether a witness stands to gain personally, such as benefitting in a divorce or child custody case, by making an accusation.

In some instances, the other person’s consent to being touched is a defense to sexual battery. This may depend on whether the person was old enough or had the mental capacity to legally consent to sexual activity.

How the Sexual Assault and Battery Attorneys in Roanoke Can Help

If you’ve been charged with sexual battery in Virginia, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call our local number at .