Sexual Battery Charges in Charlotte North Carolina

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Sexual battery is one of the most serious misdemeanor crimes in North Carolina. A conviction of sexual battery carries the potential of jail time, registration on the sex offender’s registry, as well as the devastation to your reputation. The severity of these consequences and the complexity of these kinds of cases, means that if you are being investigated or have been charged with sexual battery it is imperative that you speak to an experienced and skilled attorney right away. The criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith have represented hundreds of clients in these situations across the greater Charlotte area. If you or someone you know is facing an investigation for sexual battery or has been charged with a crime, contact 704.333.1114 today to set up your free consultation.

Sexual Battery N.C.G.S §14-27.33

You can be charged with sexual battery if you engage in sexual contact with another person, either;

  1. By force and against their will; or
  2. If the other person has a mental disability or is mental incapacitated or physically helpless, and you know or reasonably should know that such a condition exists.


The purpose of your behavior was for sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.

What does this mean?

One reason it is so important to hire a skilled and experienced attorney in these kinds of cases is that while the law may seem straight forward, just about every aspect of this charge has a unique legal definition, that may include or exclude things that the terms common usage would not. Knowledge of these exact definitions can be key to mounting a successful defense.

1. The first term that has a unique legal definition is the term sexual contact.

What does sexual contact mean? In order to define sexual contact, the first place to look is N.C.G.S. §14-27.20 (5).

The statute defines sexual contact as any of the following:

  1. Touching the sexual organ, anus, breast, groin, or buttocks of any person.
  2. A person touching another person with their own sexual organ, anus, breast, groin, or buttocks.
  3. A person ejaculating, emitting, or placing semen, urine, or feces upon any part of another person.

While the term sexual contact may seem pretty straight forward, it is important to know its limitations, not everything that most people would consider sexual contact is included. In order to prove the crime of sexual battery the government does not need to prove either penetration or a sexual act, State v. Viera, 189 N.C. App. 514.

2. Next, is the term “by force and against their will”, this can be broken down into two sections by force, and against their will.

a. The use of force does not have to be accompanied by physical evidence and proof of actual force will not be required. Instead, in State v. Locklear, 172 N.C. App. 249, the Court stated constructive force by threat, fear, or duress is sufficient.

b. Finally, in December of 2019, the North Carolina legislature added the following definition for against someone’s will to N.C.G.S. §14-27.20: action that is done without consent entirely; or after consent is given and then later revoked by the other person, in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe consent is revoked.

3. Mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, and physically helpless all have their own definitions in the criminal context. N.C.G.S. §14-27.20 defines these terms as follows:

Mentally Disabled 

Means that the victim is mentally retarded or has a mental disorder, either of which condition leaves the victim incapable of appraising the conduct or resisting, or communicating an unwillingness to consent or submit. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(2a).

Mentally Incapacitated

Prior to December 2019, mentally incapacitated means that the victim who due to any act committed upon them or any poisonous or controlled substance provided to them without their knowledge or consent is rendered substantially incapable of either appraising the nature of his or her conduct, or resisting the intercourse or sexual act. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(2).

After December 2019, this has been amended to simply say any act that renders the person substantially incapable of either appraising the nature of his or her conduct, or resisting the intercourse or sexual act. This change is a massive shift in North Carolina law that means that the defense that the person became impaired on their own no longer exists.

Physically Helpless 

Means a victim who is either; unconscious, or physically unable to resist an act of vaginal intercourse or sexual act or to communicate an unwillingness to submit or a lack of consent. N.C.G.S. 14-27.20(3).

4. Finally, the government would have to prove that the purpose of the actions you took was either for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

The statutes do not give such clear definitions of these terms, as they are meant to be as broad and encompassing as possible. Generally, the court will infer this from the nature of the conduct itself.

An example of conduct that have been found to meet this requirement are:

  1. grabbing the victim’s crotch after asking for her number and a date after a prior incident of contact, State v. Patino, 699 S.E.2d 678.


Sexual battery convictions are punished as a class A1 misdemeanor, this means that regardless of your prior criminal record the judge could sentence you to jail for a conviction. Jail time for a first-time offender with no prior record can be up to 60 days, while those who are the maximum prior record level can do up to 150 days in jail. Other options for punishment include sex offender probation which severely restricts your ability to travel, your ability to go around schools, or even be around your own children without another adult present. The statutory sentence isn’t the only punishment the judge will hand down upon a conviction, one of the most devastating effects of a conviction for sexual battery is the requirement to register on the sex offender’s registry. The registry is a public list that anyone can look up at any time, that places not only the stigma of a sex offender on you, but also severely limits where you can live, work, and spend your free time.

Once convicted of sexual battery, the conviction will stay on your record forever. There is no legal means to expunge this kind of conviction off your record. The result of this conviction being on your record will be felt when you apply for a new job and they run a background check, as it will show up. Another effect of the conviction on your record is when you apply for housing, many places conduct a background check and can deny you housing on the basis of this kind of conviction. Finally, there is the public stigma and destruction of your reputation that occurs when your record carries this kind of a conviction, that is almost irreversible.

Because these punishments are so severe it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible in the process. These kinds of cases often begin with a police investigation in which you will most likely be asked to provide a statement or participate in an interview. Before you speak to any law enforcement officer or anyone else about this kind of case it is vital that you speak to an attorney and have skilled representation on your side. It is vitally important that if you are under investigation or have been charged with sexual battery that you do not speak to anyone until you speak to an attorney. Remember, anyone you speak to about this who doesn’t share the kind of confidential relationship that an attorney does with their client, could be a witness against you. The criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith have decades of experience and have represented hundreds of clients in sex based criminal offenses, and are ready to help you navigate this difficult and emotional situation. Call 704.333.1114 today to set up your free consultation today.