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Civil vs. Criminal Sexual Assult

Sexual assault can be described in many different ways. However, generally speaking, it refers to sexual contact or behavior that takes place without the victim's explicit consent. No matter how sexual assault happens, it is never the victim's fault. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Although many people know that sexual assault is a crime, not many know that the victim can pursue a lawsuit against the attacker.

Types of Sexual Assault

Civil Sexual Assault Cases

In civil justice systems, victims can sue their attackers for wrongdoing. This is often referred to as "intentional tort" and allows the victim to seek restitution for any losses. Although the idea of this may bring the victim peace of mind, it is sometimes more beneficial to file a claim against another party who should have but did not prevent the attack (stores, schools, restaurants, hotels, etc). This is oftentimes more beneficial because not always does the attacker have the proper resources to compensate the victim for what they deserve, whereas it's likely that other involved parties will have insurance and other assets that can be used to pay the victim the settlement they are owed.

Since civil claims are separate from criminal cases, the victim may pursue a civil lawsuit even if the state has failed to bring criminal charges against the attacker. Civil cases also have other advantages that the victim should be aware of. Some of which include:

  • They can sue multiple parties at once
  • There is a lower burden of proof (a preponderance of the evidence)
  • Victims have more control over the proceedings. This means that, unlike in criminal cases, most major decisions rest with the victim. This is also beneficial because it helps empower the victim and helps them regain a sense of control and security.

Criminal Sexual Assult Cases

Unlike civil assault cases, criminal cases are handled as a crime against the state and brought to court by the state, not the accuser. This puts the direction of the case in the hands of the state rather than the victim making them unable to veto anything the prosecution decides or where a settlement is requisitioned and/or received.

In criminal cases, the attacker is innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution must prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that the attacker is indeed guilty. If the attacker is found guilty, they may face probation or incarceration, whereas if they are found innocent, they cannot be tried again for the same crime in criminal court.

We Can Help

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you have rights. Contact our lawyers at HMW Law immediately to discuss your case details and take proper legal action. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, and we are dedicated to getting you the justice you deserve. Let us help you.

Call us today at (216) 220-6776 or visit us online to schedule your FREE case consultation.