Pursue Justice

Being a victim of sexual abuse is one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences one can endure. Unfortunately, it’s also a situation that happens much too often. It is crucial to seek help and support in times like these and consider the legal options available for bringing justice against an abuser.

Taking legal action may seem daunting and intimidating at first – especially since there are two main routes you have to seek justice: civil or criminal court. In this blog, we will discuss the difference between civil and criminal cases regarding sexual abuse, as well as provide information on which route may best suit your needs to seek justice against your abusers and any institution that enabled the abuse.

Overview of the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Lawsuits in a Sexual Abuse Case

Amid the trauma and turmoil of a sexual abuse case, understanding the nuances of the legal system and the differences between civil and criminal lawsuits can feel overwhelming. While both cases address sexual abuse, they have distinct goals, procedures, and outcomes.

Civil suits focus on providing financial compensation for the victim and holding the perpetrator and enabling institution accountable in a civil court. In contrast, criminal cases seek to punish the offender and protect society through criminal prosecution. Understanding these differences can help victims and their families make informed decisions about pursuing justice and holding perpetrators and institutions accountable for their actions.

What Is a Civil Lawsuit in a Sexual Abuse Case?

A civil lawsuit in a sexual abuse case is a legal action taken by the victim or their loved ones against the perpetrator and/or institution that enabled or covered-up the abuse. Most sexual abuse cases filed in civil court will settle for an amount of money before the case comes up for trial. If a civil lawsuit for sex abuse proceeds to trial, the victim must have a preponderance of evidence – which means there is more evidence in their favor than against them. For cases that occurred a long time ago, the evidence will primarily be the sworn testimony of the victim. Sometimes there is corroborating evidence in the form of testimony from other witnesses or documents from the files of the institution where the abuse occurred. If the abuser sexually assaulted other victims during the same time period, this can be important evidence supporting the civil case.

Although there are statutes of limitations that usually apply to civil cases, there are new laws in many states that give sex abuse victims a longer period of time or a temporary window of time to file claims that may have been previously time barred. Sexual abuse cases are difficult to navigate alone, so it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney to help you. Together, you can work with your attorney towards holding the perpetrator and negligent institution accountable and seeking justice for your pain and suffering.

What Is a Criminal Lawsuit in a Sexual Abuse Case?

A criminal lawsuit in a sexual abuse case is based on specific definitions of sex crimes that differ from state to state. Generally, a criminal suit is a legal proceeding the government brings against an individual accused of committing a crime.

In sex abuse cases, this includes crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

In the context of sexual abuse, the accused abuser faces charges for committing a sexual act without the victim’s consent, or in some cases, against their will. In many states, there are statutes which prevent legal consent to sexual acts if the abuser is an adult or the child is a minor. Also, incarcerated individuals typically cannot provide legal consent to sexual acts with a prison guard or staff. In criminal cases, the evidence against the abuser who is accused of committing a crime must be proven by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a higher standard of proof than is required in a civil case. Because of the higher standard of proof required in criminal cases, it is helpful to have some type of physical evidence and evidence that corroborates the victim’s testimony.

Even if a criminal case was not brought, a civil lawsuit is still an option to obtain financial compensation.

Sexual abuse cases can be complex, but with the proper legal representation and support, victims can seek justice and hold their abusers accountable for their actions.

How to Gather Evidence for Your Case

When it comes to building a solid legal case, evidence is critical. Gathering evidence to support your claim can be daunting, but with the right strategy in place, an experienced attorney can make the process more manageable.

Start by identifying the specific facts of your case and what kind of evidence would be most relevant to support your argument. From there, an attorney can help gather documents, witness statements, and other forms of evidence that can help strengthen your case.

In some cases involving sexual abuse that occurred long ago, the testimony of the victim will be the primary evidence. However, an experienced attorney can work to obtain other evidence that may corroborate or support the victim’s testimony.

How to File a Lawsuit Against an Abuser

Taking legal action against an abuser can seem like an overwhelming and daunting experience. However, if you have been a victim of abuse, filing a lawsuit against your abuser and the institution that enabled the abuse can help you seek justice and prevent the abuser from causing harm to anyone else.

First, gathering evidence of the abuse is essential to support your claim. You can contact an attorney specializing in abuse cases to help you navigate the legal process. They can assist you in filling out the necessary paperwork and guide you through every step of the lawsuit.

It is also important to prioritize your safety and health during this process and seek support from loved ones, therapists, or advocates who can provide emotional support. Filing a lawsuit against an abuser is not an easy feat, but it can bring a sense of closure and justice to those who have suffered from abuse.

Contact an Attorney

Civil cases differ from criminal cases because they are civil actions between two private parties instead of the government and the defendant. The legal requirements for both types of lawsuits are different, too. Although it can be difficult to take action against an abuser and institution that may have known about the abuse, gathering evidence and filing a lawsuit can help bring abusers to justice and give survivors closure.

If you or someone you know is seeking justice after being the victim of sexual abuse, contact Levy Konigsberg at (800) 315-3806 for help with filing a lawsuit. We’re here to help victims achieve justice.


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