Escondido sexual abuse lawyers work with people who have suffered the indignity and violence of sexual abuse to hold their abusers responsible in civil court. Of course, the first thing that people who have been subjected to abuse should do is to contact the police. This will result in a criminal investigation that may lead to an arrest, trial, and conviction of the abuser.
However, even if the abuser is sentenced to a lifetime in prison, the criminal court is powerless to order the abuser to pay compensation to the plaintiff. To do this, the plaintiff must file a separate civil suit.
Escondido sexual abuse attorneys represent individuals in these civil suits to obtain the compensation that they deserve and to hold the abuser accountable. Compassionate injury attorneys examine every case to determine the best route to pursue the claim and argue cases before juries with passion and clarity. Due to the statute of limitations, plaintiffs may have as little as two years from the date of abuse to file a claim so time is of the essence.
California Sexual Abuse Laws
Sexual abuse comes in many forms, all of which are criminalized under California’s penal code. These can include the most serious crimes of rape and child molestation, to less egregious instances of improper touching of the genitals or sexual exploitation. Regardless, a person who is subjected to any of these acts has the right to sue their abuser in civil court.
All civil lawsuits are required to utilize pre-set causes of action. This keeps civil cases on track and allows all plaintiffs to understand exactly what they need to prove to the court in order to win. California utilizes the cause of action known as “Sexual Battery” to provide this guidance.
California Civil Code 1708.5 defines sexual battery as when a defendant touches a person in a sexually offensive manner in a sexually sensitive location, or merely attempts to do so. That touching must be against the wishes of the plaintiff and the plaintiff must be offended by the contact.
Any person who is found liable for sexual battery may be ordered to pay not only equitable relief but also court costs or punitive damages.
A criminal case may also arise from the abuse. The investigation and prosecution of the defendant is entirely the responsibility of the District Attorney’s office. Even if the defendant is ultimately convicted of all charges, the criminal courts exist only to punish the offender. They can offer no direct relief to victims of crimes.
For this to happen, a separate civil case must be pursued and is entirely the responsibility of the plaintiff. However, the two cases may intersect in one key way.
In situations where a criminal and civil case arise out of the same conduct, a guilty criminal finding may result in an automatic responsible finding in a civil case. This is because of the concept known as res judicata. In short, this is a legal doctrine that prohibits a question of fact from being argued twice in court. If the defendant is found guilty in a criminal court, this will be accepted as evidence of their liability in civil court.
On the other hand, an acquittal in criminal court will not hamper a civil case. This is because criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt while civil cases need only be proven more likely than not that the defendant is responsible.
How an Escondido Sexual Abuse Attorney Can Help
Escondido sexual abuse lawyers are familiar with the laws concerning sexual abuse, their statutes of limitations, and how a criminal case may intersect with a civil claim. Filing a complaint with police and starting a civil claim against an abuser can take a great deal of personal courage.
Skilled attorneys are here to help with that process and help individuals pursue their abusers for civil damages in conjunction with the police’s investigation to bring the abuser to justice. Contact today to see how they can help.