Legal Resources

Laws in California

Here are some relevant laws and legal definitions for the state of California:

  • Sexual battery: touching an intimate part of a victim or forcing a victim to touch an intimate part of another person against the victim’s will, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse, while unlawfully restraining them, through deception, when the person is unconscious, or while the person is mentally or medically incapacitated. (California penal code §243.4) An offender may commit sexual battery in 5 ways:
    • By touching an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and the touching is against the will of the person touched and the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse;
    • By touching an intimate part of another person who is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated and the person institutionalized for medical treatment where the touching is against the will of the person touched and the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery;
    • By touching an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose;
    • By causing a victim to masturbate or touch an intimate part of the offender, the victim, or a third person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, against the victim’s will and the victim is unlawfully restrained by the offender or an accomplice, or is institutionalized for medical treatment and is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated; and
    • By touching an intimate part of another person where the touching is against the will of the victim and the touching is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.
  • Forcible acts of sexual penetration: the act of causing the penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of any person or causing another person to so penetrate the defendant’s or another person’s genital or anal opening for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse by any foreign object, substance, instrument, or device, or by any unknown object, under any of the circumstances listed below. (California penal code §289)
  • Oral copulation: the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ or anus of another person, under any of the circumstances listed below. (California penal code §288a)
  • Sodomy: engaging in sexual conduct consisting of contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another person under the circumstances listed below. (California penal code §286)
  • Rape: engaging in sexual intercourse with another person under the circumstances listed below. (California penal code §261)
    • The victim is incapable of giving consent because of a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability;
    • The offender engages in sexual intercourse against a victim’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another;
    • The victim is unable to resist because of any intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or any controlled substance and the offender knew or reasonably should have known of the victim’s condition;
    • The victim was unconscious of the nature of the act and the offender knew that the victim was unconscious of the nature of the act because the victim was unconscious or asleep, was not aware or cognizant the act occurred, or was not aware or cognizant of the nature of the act because the offender fraudulently represented that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it did not;
    • The victim submits under the belief that the offender is someone known to the victim other than the offender due to the offender’s artifice, pretense or concealment, which was intended to induce the victim’s false belief;
    • The act is accomplished against the victim’s will and the offender threatens to retaliate in the future, by way of kidnapping, false imprisonment, the infliction of extreme pain or serious bodily injury, or causing death, against the victim or any other person, and there is a reasonable probability the offender will execute the threat; or
    • The act is accomplished against the victim’s will and the offender threatens to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim or another, and the victim has a reasonable belief the offender is a public official.
  • Statutory rape: engaging in the below sexual acts with a minor (under 18), where the minor is not more than three years older or younger than the offender, including the following:
    • Unlawful sexual intercourse:
    • Sodomy
    • Oral copulation
    • Sexual penetration
    • California penal codes §§ 261.5; 286 ; 288a; 289

The following definitions are also relevant to the above:

  • Duress: a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, or retribution sufficient to coerce a reasonable person of ordinary susceptibilities to perform an act which otherwise would not have been performed, or acquiesce in an act to which one otherwise would not have submitted. The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, and their relationship to the defendant, are factors to consider in appraising the existence of duress.
  • Menace: any threat, declaration, or act which shows an intention to inflict an injury upon another.
  • Public official: a person employed by a governmental agency who has the authority, as part of that position, to incarcerate, arrest, or deport another. The perpetrator does not actually have to be a public official.
  • Unconscious of the nature of the act: incapable of resisting because the victim meets one of the following conditions: (A) Was unconscious or asleep; (B) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant that the act occurred; (C) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant of the essential characteristics of the act due to the perpetrator's fraud in fact; (D) Was not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant of the essential characteristics of the act due to the perpetrator's fraudulent representation that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it served no professional purpose.
  • Threatening to retaliate: a threat to kidnap or falsely imprison, or to inflict extreme pain, serious bodily injury, or death.
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Laws Outside California

Relevant Laws – By State
You can search for state-specific laws, policies and definitions related to sexual assault on the RAINN website. RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) is the largest national organization dedicated to issues around sexual violence. 

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Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) 
Provides legal resources and where to find local legal help.

National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
Provides education and resources for victims of crime and crisis. 

Office for Victims of Crime ­
Provides information on next steps and resources for victims of crime.

National Center for Victims of Crime ­
Provides assistance and resources for victims of crimes, including sexual assault.

NotAlone.Gov ­
Government website providing information and support around the goal of creating safe campuses, free from sexual violence around the US.

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