Although North Carolina statutes do not mention “groping,” feeling up a person against their will is indeed a serious crime. A conviction could land offenders in prison.
Touching a person’s intimate body parts against their will is considered sexual battery. It’s covered in North Carolina General Statutes 14-27.33. The law states that a person is guilty of sexual battery if they engage in “sexual contact” with another person forcibly against their will for the purposes of sexual arousal, sexual abuse, or sexual gratification.
A person can also be found guilty of sexual battery if they have engaged in sexual contact with a person who is “mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know that the other person is mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.”
Sexual Battery Defined
In some states, sexual contact only includes contact with the genitals or anus, but the definition of sexual contact under North Carolina law includes:
- Touching the breasts and buttocks
- Touching the genitals or anus
- Forcing a kiss on the mouth
- Forcing the victim to touch the offender’s body
- Ejaculating or placing urine or feces on the victim.
Penalties for Sexual Battery
When a person is convicted of sexual battery, the defendant will most likely be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor. Crimes in this category hold potential penalties of 1 to 150 days in prison and a fine at the discretion of the court. Criminal history is considered when deciding sentences, so anyone with a record of similar crimes will be sentenced more harshly than first-time offenders.
If courts find a person guilty of an aggravated sex crime, then the offender could be facing felony charges. Charges can be upgraded to aggravated battery if the offender used serious violence or if the victim is less than twelve years old. If a person is convicted of an aggravated sex crime, he or she could be facing up to 25 years in prison.
Lasting Effects of Conviction
The consequences of being convicted of a sex crime often haunt offenders for the rest of their lives, negatively impacting multiple aspects of their lives, including their careers, reputations, and personal relationships. A person found guilty of sexual battery in North Carolina could be on the sex offender registry for up to 30 years.
Registered sex offenders are stripped of many of the freedoms enjoyed by American citizens including:
- Residential restrictions
- Requirement to inform neighbors of sex offender status
- Requirement to give your Internet service provider, screen names, and email accounts to local law enforcement
- Necessity to report any new residential addresses to local law enforcement
- Necessity to report to the local police station every one to three years for an updated photograph
Offenders required to register for 30 years or more (excluding life-long registries) are allowed to petition for removal from the registry after 10 years if no new charges have occurred.
What You Can Do
Sex crimes of any severity or classification carry lasting ramifications that can make life miserable for anyone convicted. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it’s important to begin seeking legal advice from experienced professional attorneys as soon as possible. A good legal defense could mean the difference between probation and a lofty stay in prison.