Sexual assault and sexual violence are dreadful offenses that may not only leave you feeling helpless but also traumatized. The effects of sexual assault and sexual violence can be long term with survivors commonly suffering psychological, emotional, and physical traumas years after the event took place. If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence or sexual assault in Los Angeles, the Weissman Law Firm is here to help.
What Are Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence?
Sexual assault and sexual violence are crimes. Beyond the surface of unwanted touching or fondling, there are variations of what may constitute these terms. Sexual assault and sexual violence can be any unwanted or coerced sexual contact but the following list covers many other possible examples:
- Rape or sexual intercourse that takes place against a person's will
- Sexual contact with minors no matter whether it is consensual or not
- Forcible sodomy, referring to anal or oral sex against a person's will
- Forcible object penetration, which suggests penetrating someone's vagina or anus, or causing a person to penetrate her or himself against their will
- Marital rape
- Unwanted sexual touching or fondling
How do I get Justice?
In California, victims of sexual assault and sexual violence can pursue justice through both civil and criminal courts. Some survivors are adamant about not filing a police report or pursuing their assailant. They may be reluctant to report the assault immediately or altogether. Other survivors of sexual assault or sexual violence may feel eager to file a police report and prosecute their aggressor. No matter how you wish to move forward, you must remember that you have options.
Criminal Vs. Civil
For a criminal sexual assault or sexual violence case, a prosecutor may choose to bring charges against your alleged attacker. California requires health care practitioners who offer medical services for a physical injury or wound inflected as a result of assault to report the incident to local law enforcement in order to track cases in the healthcare system, especially when dealing with instances of sexual contact with minors or domestic violence.
Unfortunately, it can be much more difficult to get a criminal conviction because the criminal justice system requires a much higher standard of proof. The prosecutor must convince the court system that the sexual assault happened “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The civil justice system allows you to file a case classified as an “intentional tort,” which means you can sue an attacker for wrongdoing. Understandably, a criminal case would bring peace of mind but a civil lawsuit also has its merits, such as reimbursement for any medical treatment and time needed away from work.
A civil lawsuit is completely separate from a criminal charge. It requires a lower burden of proof, allows you to pursue multiple parties if others may be liable for the attack, and gives you and your attorney greater control over the proceedings, which can help you regain a sense of security.
How Can You Regain Control of Your Life After Sexual Assault or Sexual Violence?
Coping as a survivor of sexual assault or sexual violence is difficult but it is important to find ways to feel like yourself again. Filling a lawsuit can feel like the first step on the path to taking back control of your life. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), 70 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
This can feed into anxiety, shame, fear, and other strong emotions that may dissuade you or a loved one from coming forward or make you feel powerless. After a sexual assault or sexual violence, it is important to regain the power over yourself. You are not alone. With the right guidance through the legal system, pursuing a lawsuit can become an active coping mechanism. Weissman and Associates understands the importance of discretion and privacy. We are here to help shield you from further trauma and to fight for justice.