Sexual abuse and sexual assault are problems across the country. In Los Angeles County, these violent acts are taken seriously. The District Attorney’s office put out an informational pamphlet about reporting, testifying, rights, and services available to those who are survivors of sexual violence. The District Attorney urges survivors to report these offenders because:
- Many of the attackers are repeat offenders. By coming forward about the sexual violence, survivors can identify and have the attacker apprehended before they strike again.
- Reporting the violent crime may help a survivor gain the closure they need.
- Taking action against an attacker can empower a survivor.
- The attacker is subject to prosecution under the law.
- Survivors who cooperate with law enforcement are eligible for free counseling and compensation under the California Victim Compensation Program.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
Many people think that the terminology “sexual assault” and “sexual abuse” are interchangeable, meaning the same thing – that is not entirely true. Abuse and assault are both used to define specific populations of victims. In most circumstances, victims are referred to as survivors because they have overcome such a violent act.
Sexual abuse is used to refer to sexually violent acts that target vulnerable populations. These populations are often comprised of children, the elderly, or the disabled.
Sexual assault is used to refer to sexually violent acts that consist of one adult targeting another adult. These acts are done forcefully and without consent and may include touching, fondling, and penetration.
What Happens When Sexual Abuse or Assault is Reported?
When reported, law enforcement will take a crime report over the incident and will arrange for free medical attention and evaluation for the survivor. Females may request that a female law enforcement officer be assigned to the case if it will be easier for the survivor. An advocate or friend may be present when the report is taken for support.
It is crucial to report sexual assault or abuse as soon as possible. The earlier it is reported, the more likely that evidence can be preserved. Even if a report is not made early on, law enforcement will still accept a report. Delay should not be a reason for a survivor to refrain from reporting these violent acts to law enforcement. It is possible that a survivor could come forward, and their account could corroborate another survivor’s account against the same suspect.
Once the report has been filed and the suspect identified, law enforcement brings the case to the District Attorney for prosecution. If substantial evidence is present, charges will be brought forth on the suspect. Specialized deputy district attorneys are assigned to these types of cases. These attorneys stay with the case from the beginning until the end. They will discuss the process of the case with the survivor and avoids the need for survivors to recount the abuse or assault to multiple attorneys during the process
Once the case is filed, a preliminary hearing date is set. In many cases, the survivor will be required to testify in court without a jury. If the judge finds sufficient evidence, pre-trial motions will be set. If the trial moves forward, the survivor will then be required to testify in front of a jury. If a guilty plea is entered before the trial date, the survivor will not have to testify in court again.
The Rights of the Victim
Los Angeles County takes the right of the victim seriously in these types of cases. A victim can expect:
- The right to have the suspect tested for HIV/AIDS and have notification prior to the end of the case to the outcome of the test. The court will order the testing at the request of the victim or the prosecutor on the victim’s behalf. The judge will execute this order if it has been determined that bodily fluids were transferred during the abuse or assault.
- The personally identifiable information can be kept confidential and out of the public’s eye in court records and testimony, including name and address.
- With the exception of a few circumstances, the survivor’s past sexual history will not be questioned during the case.
- As sentencing, the survivor has the option of being present and making a victim impact statement to the sentencing judge.
- Any parole hearing notifications will be relayed to the survivor and can provide consideration before a release is made.
- Notification will be made to the survivor if the offender is released or escapes from imprisonment. To ensure prompt communication, the survivor must complete the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Request for Victim Services Form 1707.
Why Los Angeles Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyers?
Criminal charges are not the only charges that could be brought against an offender who commits the crime of sexual abuse or assault. In many instances, civil lawsuits are brought forward against the perpetrator or another responsible party.
Personal injury lawyers who handle cases of sexual abuse and assault will look to recover damages for economic and emotional harm that has befallen the survivor. Not all personal injury lawyers handle cases like these, so it is imperative to ensure that you find a lawyer who can handle these types of circumstances. Survivors should not be required to relive their trauma more than necessary – which occurs when the firm does not handle these cases.
What a Los Angeles Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyer Can Offer
Lawyers who have experience handling civil cases that involve sexual abuse and assault may be able to offer survivors and their families certain legal services. These services include:
- Help to understand the requirements for filing a civil case, including the statute of limitations in California for these types of cases
- The knowledge of the options available for seeking compensation, as well as the different forms of assistance or resources available for survivors
- The determination of liability in a case, because not all perpetrators are the only ones liable in cases of sexual abuse or assault. In some instances, there was someone else who had a duty to ensure the safety of the abused or assaulted.
- The ability to help determine the value of the damages and how much to seek in the civil lawsuit against the responsible parties. Economic and non-economic costs to be factored in may include medical treatment, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, therapy, pain and suffering, and more.
- Help seeking a settlement from an insurance company or the defendant if there is one to cover the type of lawsuit being brought forth against them.
- Filing the civil lawsuit and paperwork in the appropriate court.
- Attending all pre-trial conferences or hearings on behalf of the survivor and providing representation in litigation proceedings.
- Collecting damages that may be awarded during the proceedings.
- Providing representation in any appeals that the defendant may try to file regarding the civil case.
Can a Los Angeles Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyer Win Without a Criminal Conviction?
In these types of cases, a civil lawsuit can be filed (and even won) without the requirement of a criminal conviction. Despite criminal conviction not being necessary, it can be compelling and help provide the powerful evidence needed for the civil lawsuit to be ruled in favor of the plaintiff. There are no proceedings during civil litigation that will incur jail time for the defendant, which can only be done in a criminal case.
The purpose of the civil lawsuit is to recover damages from liable parties within the sexual abuse and assault case. Liable parties are not just the offender, but anyone who had a duty of care. In sexual abuse and assault cases, a school, clergy, or other organization may be accountable for their participation, even though it was not physical.
Even when a criminal case does not bring charges against an offender, a civil lawsuit may bring the closure needed to a survivor of such a crime.
TorkLaw Handles Los Angeles Sexual Abuse and Assault Cases
If you or a loved one is the survivor of a sexual abuse or assault case, TorkLaw can bring forth a civil lawsuit that may award you compensatory damages from the crime. Our experienced legal team understands the delicacy of these cases, which is why we offer FREE and confidential case analysis in the Los Angeles area.
As a legal team, our goal is to provide survivors of these violent sex crimes the ability to gain economic and non-economic damages that resulted from the case. These damages include, but are not limited to, compensation for injuries sustained, uncollected wages, therapy, pain and suffering, and so much more. TorkLaw’s experienced team can be the voice for a survivor looking to find closure through the civil legal system.
If you are a sexual abuse or assault survivor living in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to compensation. Call our legal team at 888.845.9696 or fill out our online contact form for more information.
Again, TorkLaw is your team of Los Angeles sexual abuse and assault lawyers, ready to give you a FREE and confidential case consultation.