Woman in Santa Rosa Escapes Sexual Assault at Knifepoint (CA Penal Code 243.4)

In the evening hours, around 10:30 p.m., a woman was nearly attacked sexually at knifepoint.  As she was returning to her apartment on Burt Street and Parkcreek Drive, she was busy removing bags from her vehicle when a man approached her, grabbed her from behind, and held a knife to her throat.  She was only able to escape by frightening off her assailant with the panic button on her car keys.  Although she sustained minor injuries to her neck, the woman was mostly unscathed.

California law takes sexual battery and sexual assault quite seriously.  According to CA Penal Code 243.4, touching another person for the express purpose of sexually gratifying oneself, when the other person is not willing, is a serious violation of the law.  This particular crime is a ‘wobbler’ in California, meaning that it may be treated as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending upon what prosecutors decide.

While misdemeanor sexual battery is a serious enough violation of the law, felony sexual battery may end, of course, in much harsher penalties.  If the victim was unlawfully restrained, as in the case above, then there are serious penalties indeed.  Although a conviction on charges of misdemeanor sexual battery will likely end in a period of 1 year in county jail (and a maximum fine of $2,000), a felony conviction could result in up to 4 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.  Both misdemeanor and felony sexual battery convictions also subject an individual to lifetime registration as a sex offender (CA PC 290).