Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is focused on the rights of a perpetrator, not the survivor. Moreover, the criminal justice system doesn’t always achieve a conviction and put the perpetrator behind bars. When the criminal courts have failed, the civil courts can help survivors get the justice they deserve and more importantly, give survivors a voice.
You can file a lawsuit for sexual assault even if the perpetrator got out of criminal charges. Civil and criminal courts are separate, and the outcome of one does not automatically affect the other.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault, contact the sexual assault lawyers at Wagner Reese. Our lawyers have over 150 collective years of experience helping the people of Indiana get the justice and compensation they deserve.
Criminal Conviction vs. Civil Restitution
The criminal and civil courts are two separate parts of the justice system. In criminal courts, the state prosecutes the perpetrator. If they are found guilty, they go to jail or pay fines. While this is a form of justice, there is often no direct compensation for the victim.
In a civil court, the victim sues the person who hurt them. Here the judge and jury can award the victim or the victim’s family money as compensation for the damage the perpetrator caused.
If the perpetrator has gotten out of criminal charges, they can still be sued successfully in the civil system. In criminal court, guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means that the jury cannot have any doubt whatsoever that the perpetrator committed the crime. Civil courts only require the perpetrator to be “more than likely” guilty, which means they are liable for the crime but not criminally culpable.
If a person has been found guilty in a criminal court, it will make the civil suit easier to win, because the criminal case can be used as evidence in the civil trial. However, a criminal conviction is not necessary, and you can bring and win a civil suit regardless of the criminal case’s outcome.
Why Survivors of Sexual Assault File Lawsuits in Civil Courts
People who commit sexual assault need to face justice. Criminal courts have failed far too many victims or intimidated victims into silence. Survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault can bring their cases forward in civil court to get the compensation they deserve and the justice they have awaited.
There may also be people beyond the perpetrator who are liable in a civil lawsuit. People who enabled, failed to prevent, or failed to report sexual abuse can also be sued in civil courts. These people are liable for their actions, and victims are due restitution from those who failed to help.
No amount of money could ever undo the pain and suffering that assault and abuse survivors endure. However, civil courts can award money to pay for medical bills and any lost wages resulting from assault or abuse.
Civil courts can also award further monetary compensation to help survivors find closure and begin to heal the wounds of their abuse. Sexual abuse and assault can lead to physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering that can persist for years, and it is crucial to have the financial ability to seek treatment.
It is your legal right to seek justice and compensation in the civil courts. Working with a qualified, experienced lawyer helps you understand your legal options and what compensation you may be owed.
What to Do if You Experienced Sexual Assault
Survivors of sexual assault deserve to know their rights. The legal systems, both criminal and civil, ensure you get justice. The police will handle the criminal case, and the State’s Attorney will prosecute it. If the criminal courts fail to bring you the justice you feel you deserve, the civil courts can step in after the criminal proceedings have finished.
If you want to bring a sexual abuse lawsuit against the person who harmed you, the people who enabled the abuse, or the people who failed to help, Wagner Reese can help.
We are passionate fighters for justice and have the sensitivity to help you through this trying time. Our skilled attorneys will investigate your case, gather evidence to strengthen your argument, and hold the responsible party accountable. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how to protect your rights.