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Callifornia sexual assault charge not necessarily easy to define

As sexual assault is often used as a catch-all phrase when referring to criminal charges, it is understandable that those facing such allegations might feel confused. There is no doubt that sexual assault is a serious charge and should be handled carefully, with respect to both the defendant as well as the potential victim. However, everyone involved in these types of allegations should actually be aware of what sexual assault means in a California criminal courtroom.

At the most basic, a sexual assault is considered to be an unwanted sexual act or touch between two or more parties. However, two parties in California might perceive a touch differently. An act that one considered innocent or well-meaning might be taken as offensive to another.

Additionally, the law often considers any type of sexual behavior in which one of the parties was considered incapacitated -- either mentally, physically or both -- to be an act of sexual assault. A court might take a variety of factors into consideration when determining the capacity of an alleged victim to consent to any type of sexual act. This means that even if both parties were drinking alcohol at the time, the supposed victim could be considered incapacitated and unable to give his or her consent. 

While it is exceedingly important to have sexual assault laws in place to protect victims, there is no understating the lifelong impact that a conviction means. Those convicted of sexual assault must register as a sex offender, possibly serve time behind bars and have their futures seriously limited. In order to minimize this impact and to garner the most favorable outcome possible, defendants of sexual assault charges in California can likely benefit from a careful review of the circumstances underlying the accusations and a defense focused on achieving a successful result.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Assault Overview", Accessed on June 23, 2015

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