Melton, Chief Justice.
Daniel Jones appeals his convictions and sentences for three
counts of felony sexual battery. On appeal, Jones argues that
the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and
that his criminal sentences violate the Georgia and United
States Constitutions. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
his first enumeration, Jones contends that the evidence
presented at his trial was insufficient to support his
convictions. When evaluating the sufficiency of evidence,
"the relevant question is whether, after viewing the
evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any
rational trier of fact could have found the essential
elements of the crime[s] beyond a reasonable doubt."
(Citation and emphasis omitted.) Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (III) (B) (99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560) (1979). Similar to appeals from a jury trial
resulting in a criminal conviction, on appeal from a bench
trial, "we view all evidence in the light most favorable
to the trial court's verdict, and the defendant no longer
enjoys the presumption of innocence. We do not re-weigh
testimony, determine witness credibility, or address
assertions of conflicting evidence." (Citation omitted.)
Wimberly v. State, 302 Ga. 321, 323 (1) (806 S.E.2d
the evidence in this light, the record shows that, at all
relevant times, Jones was 18 years old, and the victim, J.S.,
was 15. On the morning of August 12, 2013, J.S. was at home
with her friends when she started texting Jones, whom she had
known for approximately one year. Jones eventually showed up
at J.S.'s house, uninvited, and requested to speak to
J.S. She agreed and stepped out onto the front porch,
accompanied by a friend. During this conversation, Jones told
J.S. "all I need is three minutes," and "[your
friend] needs to go in the other room," to which J.S.
responded, "that's not a good idea."
some time, J.S. started to become uncomfortable with the
conversation, so she walked to a nearby basketball goal and
called out to her other friends still inside the home to come
outside and join her in a game. The group, which included
J.S. and Jones, proceeded to play basketball and, at some
point during the game, J.S. hugged Jones. At this time, Jones
put his hands between J.S.'s legs, then moved them over
her buttocks and breasts and said, "if I wanted to I
could get you there." J.S. testified that these touches
occurred over her clothing and without her permission. J.S.
backed away and continued to play basketball until Jones
on the foregoing, we find that the evidence was sufficient to
enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a
reasonable doubt that Jones was guilty of the crimes for
which he was convicted. See Jackson, supra. See also
OCGA § 16-6-22.1.
turn next to Jones' claim that the statutory sentencing
scheme for felony sexual battery is unconstitutional as
applied to him. Jones argues that the felony sentencing
statute violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Georgia
and United States Constitutions, and violates the prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment found in the Eighth
Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I of
the Georgia Constitution. We address each in turn.
First, Jones argues that the felony sexual battery sentencing
scheme violates his right to equal protection under the
Georgia and United States Constitutions because the statute
fails to include a misdemeanor punishment provision for
sexual contact between teenagers (what is sometimes referred
to as a "Romeo and Juliet provision") similar to
Georgia's statutory rape (OCGA § 16-6-3
and child molestation (OCGA § 16-6-4 (b)
sentencing schemes. Conceding that his claim is subject to
rational basis review, see Pierce v. State, 302 Ga.
389 (3) (b) (807 S.E.2d 425) (2017), Jones argues that the
failure by the General Assembly to include a Romeo and Juliet
provision within the sexual battery statute creates an
unconstitutional disparity in sentencing between teenage
defendants accused of sexual battery and those accused of
statutory rape or child molestation. However, because Jones
is not similarly situated to teenage defendants accused of
statutory rape or child molestation, he has failed to show
that OCGA § 16-6-22.1 (d) violates his right to equal
As we have previously explained, under the rational basis
the claimant must establish that he is similarly situated to
members of the class who are treated differently from him.
Next, the claimant must establish that there is no rational
basis for such different treatment. And because the
legislation is presumptively valid, the claimant has the
burden of proof as to both prongs.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Harper v. State,
292 Ga. 557, 560 (1) (738 S.E.2d 584) (2013). Under the first
prong, "[t]he proper inquiry is whether the statute
applies equally to all those accused under it, and therefore
does not create disparate classifications among similarly
situated persons." Reed v. State, 264 Ga. 466,
466 (448 S.E.2d 189) (1994). In general, "[f]or equal
protection purposes, criminal defendants are similarly
situated if they are charged with the same
crime." (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.)
Pitts v. State, 293 Ga. 511, 516 (2) (748 S.E.2d
426) (2013). But here, Jones alleges he is being treated
differently from teenage defendants charged with
different crimes. Indeed, whereas felony sexual
battery occurs when a person "intentionally makes
physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of
another person [under the age of 16] without the consent of
that person," OCGA § 16-6-22.1 (b and d), the State
is not required to prove lack of consent for either statutory
rape or child molestation, see OCGA §§ 16-6-3,
the General Assembly "has wide discretion in setting
penalties, . . . and courts may not 'substitute their
judgments as to the appropriateness of criminal penalties for
those lawfully expressed by the General Assembly.'"
(Citations omitted.) Hailey v. State, 263 Ga. 210,
211 (429 S.E.2d 917) (1993). Because Jones is not similarly
situated to teenage defendants charged with statutory rape
and child molestation, his equal protection claim fails. See
Drew v. State, 285 Ga. 848, 849 (2) (684 S.E.2d 608)
(2009) ("Because there is no contention that [the
defendant] is punished differently from others accused and
convicted of the same crime, "there is no
unconstitutional disparate treatment of similarly situated
persons.'" (Citation omitted.)).
Jones next claims that the sentencing scheme for felony
sexual battery violates the prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment. Specifically, Jones alleges that, because
he was facing up to 15 years in confinement under OCGA §
16-6-22.1 (d), the statue, as applied to him, is grossly
disproportionate to the severity of his crime. Again, we
the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
Art. I, Sec. I, Par. XVII of the Georgia Constitution,
"categorically prohibit inflicting cruel and unusual
punishments." (Citation omitted.) Johnson v.
State, 276 Ga. 57, 62 (5) (573 S.E.2d 362) ...