Monterey Sexual Assault Lawyers

Experienced Monterey Sexual Assault Attorneys Ready To Serve You

Sexual assault victims face unimaginable consequences in the wake of their attack. In some circumstances, injuries caused to the victim result in long hospital stays that result in overwhelming medical bills. Victims also suffer financially from taking time off work to recover and paying for therapy that may last years. The attack takes a toll on your mental health as well as your financial stability. California lawmakers acknowledged the burden of these costs. Consequently, they passed legislation allowing victims of sex crimes to sue their perpetrators in civil court. So if you are a victim, a Monterey sexual assault lawyer can help protect your rights.

Resources

  • If you are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit thehotline.org
  • If you are a teen being abused call the National Teen Dating Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or visit loveisrespect.org
  • If you have been raped or experienced sexual violence, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org
  • For safety planning, safe shelter, and counseling, contact W.E.A.V.E.: When Everyone Acts Violence Ends 1-866-920-2952 weaveinc.org

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What Forms of Sexual Assault Entitle Me to Bring a Lawsuit?

Any sexual assault victim is entitled to bring a civil lawsuit. Offenses that are considered sex crimes include:

  • Rape;
  • Sexual abuse of a child;
  • Groping;
  • Indecent exposure;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Sexual assault by rideshare drivers;
  • Sexual assault by medical providers; or
  • Any act of a sexual nature that was not consensual.

Many victims hesitate to report their attack. They fear that no one will believe them, that their attacker will deny the allegations, or that others will blame them for the assault. Sexual abuse victims face enormous pressure to report their attacker to the authorities immediately. Otherwise, some consider the allegations less credible. So if you are unsure whether you have a valid civil claim, you do not have to figure it out alone. An experienced Monterey sexual harassment attorney can assess your case and help you make that determination.

Does My Attacker Have to Be Charged Criminally?

The short answer is, “No.” District attorneys often reject cases that lack concrete evidence because they can be hard to prove. But criminal charges are only one way to hold your attacker accountable. You can also enlist the help of a Monterey sexual assault attorney who can file a civil claim on your behalf. The purpose of a civil claim is to demand accountability and to recover monetary damages for the emotional and psychological trauma suffered at the hands of your perpetrator.

How Can I Win My Sexual Assault Claim in Civil Court?

But how can you win in civil court if there is insufficient evidence to support criminal charges? The short answer is that there is an enormous difference in the burden of proof in criminal cases versus civil cases. When a criminal prosecutor is deciding whether or not to file charges, they know that the burden of proof is extremely high if they go to trial. A prosecutor must be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden in the American judicial system and requires sufficient proof that no other reasonable theory is possible. This is significantly higher than in civil cases, where the burden is merely proof by a “preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, the plaintiff only has to show that their claim is more than 50% likely to be true in a civil case.

So even if a prosecutor decides they cannot prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, you may be able to prove your civil case by a preponderance of the evidence. And while this may not land your attacker in prison, it can certainly hurt his wallet while simultaneously ensuring that he pays some price for his wrongdoing.

Defenses to Sexual Assault

Defendants facing allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment often provide defenses for their conduct. Common defenses used include:

  • The sexual act was consensual;
  • The alleged victim filed the claim after the statute of limitations expired;
  • That the sexual act did not occur; or
  • The plaintiff mistook the defendant for someone else.

A Monterey sexual harassment lawyer can explain what these defenses mean and how to discredit the defendant’s version of events.

How Long Do I Have to File My Case?

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims generally is two years from the date of the assault. If you are an adult at the time of your sexual assault, the two-year statute of limitations applies to your claim. California law relaxes the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims.

Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sexual Abuse

California law permits plaintiffs who suffered sexual abuse as children to file a lawsuit until the later of the following dates:

  • The victim’s 40th birthday; or
  • Five years from when the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the sexual assault or abuse caused a psychological injury or illness that emerged after the victim’s 18th birthday.

If the plaintiff is over 40, California law requires the plaintiff to submit:

  • A certificate of merit from a mental health professional who has not treated the plaintiff previously, stating that there is a valid reason why the plaintiff could not have discovered the harm sooner; or
  • A certificate of merit from the plaintiff’s lawyer stating that he or she reviewed the case and the findings of a mental health professional—and has concluded that the claim has merit.

These exceptions to the typical statute of limitations for personal injury cases permit victims of childhood abuse to bring civil claims against their abusers decades after what would traditionally be allowed.

Damages Available to Sexual Assault Victims

Plaintiffs filing a civil claim are entitled to seek damages to compensate them for harm suffered due to the sexual assault or harassment. In the wake of the assault, compensatory damages aim to make the victim whole. Damages frequently claimed in sexual assault civil suits include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Psychological treatment;
  • Therapy costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of earning capacity;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); or
  • Anxiety.

The forms and amount of damages available in a civil claim depend on the circumstances of each case.

California law allows victims to seek punitive damages in civil claims for sexual abuse when there is evidence of oppression, fraud, or malice on behalf of the defendant.

What is “Statutory Rape” in California?

The term “statutory rape” refers to sexual intercourse between a minor (under 18 years old) and an adult (18 or older). When this happens the adult is guilty of statutory rape, even if the minor consented to the sexual intercourse or even sought it out as the aggressor.

California has decided that anyone under 18 is incapable of offering meaningful consent due to their youth. Although statutory rape is a criminal offense, you can still characterize it as sexual assault and file a lawsuit against the perpetrator. The Monterey sexual assault lawyers at Silva Injury Law, Inc. will fight hard for your right to fair compensation.

How Does Consciousness Affect the Ability to Consent to Sexual Acts?

The defendant is guilty of sexual assault (of which penetrative sex is only one example) if they engage in sex with you while you are:

  • Unconscious or asleep;
  • Unaware of the occurrence of the sexual act in question;
  • Unaware of the nature of the act due to fraud perpetrated by the defendant; or
  • Unaware of the essential nature and purpose of the sexual act because the defendant falsely told you that it served a professional purpose (an unnecessary “physical examination” due to a non-existent breast lump, for example).

It is irrelevant whether or not the defendant caused your unconsciousness. Drugging you, however, can lead to an additional claim.  A sexual assault lawyer in Monterey can help you determine whether you have a viable second claim.

Can I Sue For Spousal Rape in California?

Yes. First of all, spousal rape is a crime in California. In fact, a court can sentence a spousal rapist to up to eight years in prison. You can also file a civil lawsuit seeking money damages. Spousal rape can also be characterized as a  form of domestic violence, which also amounts to both a criminal and a civil offense.

Do Sexual Assault Victims Have Privacy Rights?

Yes. You have the right to conceal from the public:

  • your identity, both when you file a claim and all the way through trial;
  • any facts that might lead someone to be able to identify you; and
  • the amount that you received in any verdict or settlement.

The Monterey sexual assault attorneys at Silva Injury Law, Inc. will protect your privacy rights to the utmost extent of the law.

Can I Sue A Public Entity for Sexual Assault?

Yes, if you can make a case that the public entity is directly or vicariously responsible for your assault. If a police officer sexually assaulted you while on duty, for example, you can sue the police department. The police department may be liable even if the department itself was not at fault in any way.

In a nutshell, a different set of rules apply to a sexual assault lawsuit against:

  • A police department;
  • A school district;
  • A transit authority;
  • A fire department; or
  • Any other government entity.

The rules that apply to governmental entities set a much shorter statute of limitations period than the period that applies to lawsuits against private defendants.

Contact a Monterey Sexual Assault Lawyer at Silva Injury Law Inc.

Our Monterey sexual assault attorneys at Silva Injury Law Inc., recognize that every sexual assault case is different. We understand that all victims process their trauma in a different way. We are committed to seeking justice on behalf of victims of sexual assault and will not rest until your attacker is held accountable. So contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Our experienced legal team also handles other types of injury cases, including:

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Promoting Healing Through Compassionate Advocacy

We believe that our duty goes beyond achieving large monetary awards for our clients. We strive first to be decent human beings who seek not to stir up fights, but to solve problems.

As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be enough business.

- Abraham Lincoln