Updated: Jan 21, 2022
Insights on sexual assault and abuse claims, and the payable damages.
Sexual assault is an attack on an individual that is sexual in nature, such as unwanted and offensive touching. The legal definition of sexual assault, on the other hand, varies widely from state to state. In some states, rape is associated with sexual assault, while others use words like criminal sexual penetration, sexual battery, or criminal sexual contact to describe the crime. These may lead to a slew of emotional and physical harm. A sexual assault case can be both a criminal case, and a personal injury claim.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of people who have been raped or sexually assaulted has gradually risen over time. Rape or sexual assault claimed the lives of 300,165 people in 2013. That number was 393,979 in 2017.
Accusations of sexual assault vary from groping to battery to attempted rape. The terminology, structure, and scope of sexual assault offenses differ greatly across states, even though they share a few basic elements.
Coercion, force, or the victim's incapacitation may all be used by the perpetrator to commit sexual assault.
A victim is considered incapacitated by the statute if:
They were either physically incapable of expressing themselves or displaying their inability to participate in sexual intercourse.
They lacked the mental capacity to comprehend the sexual act's precise essence.
Charges arising from the victim's incapacitation sometimes involve the use of date rape drugs or alcohol, rendering the victim incapable of giving legal consent.
In addition, several states' sexual assault laws have been expanded to cover partners. One of the following three strategies has been used to do this:
Removing the spousal assault exemption
Marriage as a defense to a sexual assault charge is being phased out
Enacting different legislation banning your spouse from sexually abusing you
Non-consensual sexual interaction with people of any sex and age, not just between an adult woman and a man, is now protected by contemporary sexual harassment laws. In addition, many states use the word "sexual harassment" to refer to other crimes like unwanted sexual contact or rape. Other states differentiate between offenses involving penetration and those involving forced or coercive contact. The latter is a first-degree (aggravated) felony in this case, while the former is a lower-level offense.
Criminal Sexual Penetration or Rape
Suppose forced sexual intercourse is referred to as rape, sexual battery, criminal sexual penetration, or sexual assault in your state. In that case, it is typically referred to as sodomy or sexual penetration without consent. It may involve the use of aggression, terror, threats of violence, as well as the use of drugs and other intoxicants.
The following is a list of other applicable parts of the Penal Code that deal with sex crimes:
261(a)(2) PC – Harassment by intimidation
261(a)(3) PC – drug-assisted rape
261(a)(4) PC – Abuse of a person who is unconscious
261(a)(6) PC – Abuse with the threat of retaliation
262 (a)(1) PC – Spousal Rape
264.1 PC – Forcible rape while performing in front of an audience
PC – 266h(a) – Pimping
Soliciting a prostitute (section 266h(a) PC)
Sexual Battery and Criminal Sexual Contact
Most states have made it illegal to participate in sexual intercourse without the other person's consent, even though it does not include oral sex, sodomy, or penetration. When you enter an intimate part of another person's body (clothed or unclothed) without their permission for your sexual gratification or arousal, this is an example of sexual battery. Forcing others to access your private parts is also included.
The Factors That Affect Sentencing
Only after a jury finds the suspect guilty of sexual assault does the matter go before a court for sentencing. To assess a sentence, judges weigh a range of variables. Sexual assault sentences are commonly outlined in the criminal laws of the state where the offense occurred and typically included a minimum and maximum jail sentence, as well as probation, fines, and other penalties.
Set Sentencing Guidelines for Sexual Assault
Judges are in charge of deciding on sentences for sexual assault and other offenses. He or she must, however, abide by the United States Constitution and state rules. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits judges from imposing unreasonable bail, imposing excessive sentences, or inflicting unusual and inhuman penalties for crimes committed. State and federal laws and constitutions expressly list sexual assault offenses. Furthermore, the provisions that describe sexual assault offenses also specify the necessary penalties.
Circumstances that are both mitigating and aggravating
Judges consider any mitigating and aggravating factors in the case before agreeing on the precise terms of the sentence. Any aspect of the case that could indicate the need for a harsher sentence, such as the seriousness of the offense or a defendant's criminal background, is referred to as aggravating factors. On the other hand, mitigating conditions favor a lighter sentence.
If a state's constitution specifies a set of possible penalties, judges typically weigh the mitigating and aggravating factors when deciding on a sentence. This helps them to determine where a criminal's sentence should fall on the prescribed penalty scale.
The most important factors that judges consider in a sexual assault case:
If the criminal is a repeat offender or a first-time offender
If the accused was the primary suspect or a co-conspirator
If the defendant was under a great deal of emotional duress or tension at the time the crime was committed.
The act's implications, such as pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
If the offender was particularly cruel, vindictive, or destructive to the victim
The judge should consider whether the defendant is truly remorseful or contrite on occasion.
The Word of the Victim
The court must give your Los Angeles Attorney an opportunity to talk on your behalf under Federal Rule 32(a) of Criminal Procedure. The court will answer you by name and ask if you want to make a statement on your behalf or offer some evidence to lessen your sentence. Similar clauses can be found in most state procedural laws and statutes.
In certain states, the victim or survivor of a sexual assault crime will be given the opportunity to speak to the judge and recommend whether the sentence should be harsh or lenient. In any luck, the judge will consider the mitigating circumstances of your case and issue a light sentence. It is important to have a professional prosecutor on hand who is familiar with the state's sentencing laws and procedures.
Penalties for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault laws covering criminal sexual penetration and rape describe this act as a crime with severe consequences in many jurisdictions. Most states categorize rape offenses according to their seriousness. As a consequence, proceedings are based on the degree of force used, whether a lethal weapon was used, and whether the act caused physical harm. The potential sentences range from a year in prison to life in prison. Penalties are decided by the terms of sentencing laws and legislation of each jurisdiction.
When it comes to the duration of the sentence imposed, some states can give the judge some leeway. Others have simple sentencing statutes that the court must follow:
A mandatory minimum term to jail
A life term without the possibility of early release or probation
Criminal Sexual Battery and Sexual Contact Penalties
Sexual battery and sexual contact offenses that do not include any kind of penetration are not deemed as serious as criminal sexual penetration or rape, and therefore carry less severe sexual assault penalties and sentencing. Any criminal sexual contact committed with the threat of a weapon, by more than one person, or resulting in personal injury is considered a felony.
Criminal sexual intercourse involving coercion or intimidation without the use of a firearm is punishable as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction could result in a year in prison. However, not all crimes necessitate incarceration.
In addition to prison or jail sentences, penalties can be imposed.
If you are convicted of a sex crime, the state can order you to get treatment while you are in prison or jail or as a condition of your probation. The goal is to ensure that, in addition to your punishment, you are rehabilitated.
Both states have a sex offender identification program and laws requiring people convicted of sex crimes to register with their resident state's registry. Sexual assault suspects must meet a variety of criteria in order to register as sex offenders in each state. You will be asked to include your name, current address, and information about the crime you committed in order to register. All states have a sex offender website, and some or all of this information is made public.
State-by-State Differences in Sexual Assault Penalties
Per state has its own legislation about sexual assault, as well as various disciplinary schemes for those found guilty of sexual assault. If you commit a federal sexual assault offense, you will be subject to federal sentencing guidelines.
Sexual assault, on the other hand, is classified as a Class D crime in New York. The judge has discretion when it comes to imposing a sentence at sentencing, but the statute limits his options to a narrow selection. In addition, in New York, sentences are indeterminate, which means that the judge is not required to set a specific definition. Instead, they can pick between the absolute minimum (one or two years) and the absolute limit (up to ten years) (seven years).
Sentencing for Sexual Assault under Federal Law
If sexual assault is committed in violation of state law, it is considered a federal crime. While certain offenses are punished in the states where they happened, any felony that violates federal law or regulations is tried in federal court. Some crimes begin at the state level but are elevated to the national level when factors (such as crossing state lines) are taken into account.
When deciding on a sentence, federal law allows judges to consider many factors, including the defendant's criminal background as well as their acknowledgment of guilt. Sexual assault is punishable by a maximum term of 20 years in prison under federal law. Fines are also included.
Furthermore, if you are convicted of a sexual assault charge under federal law, you must pay the victim for all costs directly related to the crime. Occupational or physical therapy, medical treatment, attorney's fees, and all other associated costs are included.
You will be placed on parole or probation after serving a federal prison term. Furthermore, sex offender registration is almost always required. Your state of residence may, however, require you to register with its program even if it does not apply in your case.
Involvement of the State and the Federal Government
Your case will be heard in a state court if it involves a crime that violates state laws. However, since both federal and state laws are often violated in the same offense, your case can be tried in both federal and state courts. The United States Supreme Court ruled that while you are facing federal and state criminal charges, your right to be free from double jeopardy is not violated.
Convictions in one or both cases will result in lengthy sentences in prison or jail, as well as hefty fines. If you have a second arrest, you may face lengthy prison or jail sentences, as well as fines. The seriousness of the sexual offenses you committed will decide the other punishments you face. Federal offenses often result in mandatory sentencing requirements for convicted criminals.
What is the legal definition of sexual battery in California?
The unlawful rubbing of another person's private parts without their permission and for the purpose of sexual gratification is known as sexual battery. Sexual battery is specified in Section 243.4 PC of the California Penal Code and can take several forms. If a person engages in sexual battery (also known as sexual assault), he or she:
Touches an intimate part of another person when that person is unfairly restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and the touching is against the person's will and for the intent of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual violence.
Touches an intimate part of another person who is institutionalized for medical care and who is severely injured or physically incapacitated, against the person's will, and for the intent of sexual desire, sexual pleasure, or sexual violence.
Touches an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual pleasure, sexual gratification, or sexual assault, and the victim is unaware of the intent of the act because the perpetrator falsely represented that the touching was for a professional purpose.
243.4(d) PC: For the intent of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual assault, induces another to masturbate or touch an intimate part of one of those persons or the third party against that person's will while that person is illegally confined either by the accused or an accomplice, or is institutionalized for medical care and is severely impaired or otherwise incapacitated.
243. (e)(1) PC: Touches an intimate part of another person against their will for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual violence.
"Touches" refers to direct or indirect physical contact with another person (through the clothing of the victim or person committing the offense). Any person's sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks, as well as a female's breast, are considered "intimate parts."
Sexual Battery Damages in California
Sexual battery under Penal Code 243.4(a), (b), (c), or (d) is referred to as a "wobbler" offense since it may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the case and/or the accused's criminal background. If any of the following aggravating factors apply, the offense can be charged as a felony:
The victim was restrained in an unlawful manner.
The survivor is physically injured, seriously incapacitated, or confined to a medical facility for treatment.
The accused made a false claim that the contact was for medical reasons.
The defendant has a history of criminal sexual battery, and the victim is a minor.
Defendant could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000 if they are convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery under 243.4 sections (a) through (d). A felony sexual battery conviction will result in a sentence of two, three, or four years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Sexual battery is a misdemeanor in California under Penal Code 243.4(e)(1). Misdemeanor sexual battery is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a fine under section (e)(1).
In addition to the criminal penalties already listed, a conviction for sexual battery will result in the defendant being registered as a sex offender for the rest of their life under Penal Code Section 290. This allows you to register every year or if your address changes. The defendant will be asked to include their home address, place of employment, and other identifying details as part of the registration process. A conviction will leave an accused with a criminal record, limited educational, work, and housing options.
Is There a Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations in California?
Following a sexual assault, every state has a statute of limitations (a time limit for filing a lawsuit). Several variables will come into play, which is why it's important to speak with an experienced sexual assault lawyer in California about your case. The time period for filing a sexual assault case in California varies depending on whether the victim is a minor or an adult over the age of 18. If the victim is over the age of 18, you can take action as soon as possible:
10 years from the date of the defendant's attempted sexual act or crime
Within three years of the victim's discovery of a sexual assault-related injury or illness
On January 1, 2019, these statutes of limitations took effect. The following statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims became effective on January 1, 2020, as a result of this amended code of civil procedure:
Sexual assault victims under the age of 40 have until their 40th birthday to file a lawsuit
Within five years of the discovery of the crime
Any sexual assault cases that were blocked by the previous statute of limitations in California have a three-year window to be revived
Many people, especially children, refuse to accept they have been sexually abused or do not believe they have been abused at all. Instead, they will show mental, behavioral, and physical changes that may seem out of character to those who are familiar with them.
The following are some of the most common emotional symptoms of sexual abuse:
Constant weeping, low self-esteem, withdrawal, or suicidal thoughts.
Clinging or nightmares are signs of extreme anxiety.
Rage that is out of control, such as unrestrained provocation, tantrums, or increased irritability
The following are some of the most common symptoms of sexual abuse:
Changes in conduct that occur suddenly
Grades, schoolwork, or academic emphasis shifts
Fears of specific locations and people that are unexplained
apprehension of spending time alone with a single individual
Fear or anxiety from being touched
Finding difficulty in getting back to the things and projects they used to do when they were younger
Abuse of drugs and alcohol
Self-harm, such as self-mutilation or irrational actions
Playing with their own private parts excessively
Creating sexually explicit sketches
Inappropriate and rare sex-related questions
The following are some of the most common physical signs of sexual abuse:
Sitting or walking problems
They are experiencing physical pain or itching in their private areas.
Undergarments with blood stains or other forms of discharge
Wetting their bed or their clothing
Problems with sleeping
Consumption of less or more food than normal
The Payable Damages in Successful Sexual Assault Claims
In a court case, if a complainant establishes that a defendant is responsible for sexual assault, they are entitled to the same damages as personal injury victims. Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages are the three categories of damages.
The term "economic damages" refers to the monetary costs incurred as a result of sexual assault. Past and potential medical costs, ongoing psychological treatment, and missed earnings due to the inability to function or perform their job are all common examples.
The forms of harm the victim has endured and will continue to suffer as a result of sexual assault are known as non-economic damages. Pain and misery, emotional distress, lack of pleasure in life, and loss of consortium are all common examples.
Punitive damages are only available if the defendant causes harm with malice and intent. The main aim of such damages is to compensate the defendant for their conduct and to discourage future activity by using the defendant as an example.
Intentional Tort of Sexual Assault Claims
Although sexual battery is a serious crime under California law, that does not mean that all offenders face the same penalties. Victims will, luckily, bring more responsibility to bear by filing a complaint. Many that have been harmed by assault will send a clear message and possibly recover damages by filing a civil lawsuit. While these damages are typically punitive in nature, they can also provide compensation for emotional distress caused by the assault. They can even cover missed earnings if the stress has made it impossible for the survivor to work.
To assess guilt and responsibility, proof and facts are needed to build a case for liability against a rapist. These are generally defined during the jury trial; however, failure to convict in that court does not preclude a civil suit for damages because the threshold for assessing responsibility is lower in civil court. If you have a sexual assault lawyer, you will be able to rely on them for investigation and paperwork.
Eyewitness testimony will help you prove your point of view and assign blame to the right group more correctly. Many sexual assault incidents take place in public or at work, and there could be multiple victims, allowing other victims to testify in support of your allegation.
Sexual Assault Claim for Personal Injury
If you have been sexually abused, you are entitled to retaliation and justice for your pain. However, in many instances, the suspect has already been convicted. However, this does not mean you have everything you need to recover from such an attack.
Indeed, you're probably dealing with a slew of serious financial, physical, and mental problems. Fortunately, a civil lawsuit will assist you in regaining control of your life after an assault. A criminal prosecution would charge the abuser with a crime, which you will use to support your argument, while a civil case would compensate you for your pain.
However, you must act quickly. You only have two years in California to file a personal injury case, so you must determine whether or not to proceed. When you first file your lawsuit, a sexual assault lawyer in Los Angeles will assist you in creating a strategy.
Personal Injury Damages
When you decide to file a sexual assault lawsuit in California, you must first determine how much your claim is worth—this is where a sexual assault lawyer will assist you greatly before you file your claim. A sexual assault lawsuit usually includes two types of damages: physical and mental.
Physical losses are normally less difficult to quantify. After all, you do also have your hospital bills, as well as any bills for physical accidents or any associated expenses. However, you may be entitled to compensation for the serious emotional damage that a sexual assault may cause.
Some of these costs are more apparent, including the expense of years of counseling you or your child will need following the assault. Emotional damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, can be much more subjective to quantify. Getting a sexual assault lawyer to support you with this aspect of the process may be immensely helpful.
What to Do After an Incident of Sexual Assault
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you must act immediately. First and foremost, identify a secure location away from the offender. Keep all evidence of the assault, and do not clean the assault area or yourself in any way. Report the incident to law enforcement and get a forensic examination and medical attention right away.
We urge you to report the incident or call the national sexual assault hotline if you are unsure what to do next to begin the healing process after a sexual assault. There are tools and people available to encourage and assist you while you work through this traumatic event. If you've been the victim of sexual assault, follow these steps:
Use coping strategies to prioritize your safety and well-being, such as contacting a trusted family member or friend.
Consider heading to the nearest hospital or rape center for medical help.
Process your thoughts in a way that is enjoyable for you, such as meditation, journaling, getting outside in nature, or meditating.
Consider taking up legal action.
Where Sexual Assault Usually Happens
Many victims of sexual assault are familiar with their perpetrators. It's important that you find out who may be to blame so that you can stay vigilant and safe at all times. These are the most common perpetrators of sexual assault and the places where it can happen.
Hotels. An incident of sexual assault in a hotel could be committed by hotel security, cleaning, or front-line employees. Another visitor may be the perpetrator of the attack. Regardless, the hotel is responsible for protecting guests from a sexual assault that occurs on their property.
Clergy. Sexual assault committed by clergy is one of the most common—and now one of the most visible—types of sexual assault. Clergy members are often trusted, and this heinous act can jeopardize that confidence.
Hospitals. Sexual assaults can occur when people are at their most vulnerable and at risk. In a hospital environment that should otherwise be a safe haven for support, nurses, physicians, and other patients with ulterior motives may be responsible for sexual assault.
Nursing Homes. Nurses, visitors, other patients, and even family members have sexually assaulted many nursing home residents.
Workplace. Employers often take advantage of and abuse victims because of their place of influence. If an employee reports an incident, they are often threatened with termination.
Although there are a number of individuals who may be held accountable for sexual assault, the majority of cases include someone the victim knows.
What Are the Common Defenses Against Sexual Assault?
The nature of sexual assault is that the defendant is accused of touching another person's private parts, which are identified as the sexual organs, anus, groin, buttocks, or female breasts by statute. The elements of sexual assault are that the defendant touched the alleged victim and that the defendant's motive was sexual pleasure, sexual arousal, or sexual exploitation in doing so. Skin-to-skin contact is not required; indirect contact via clothing is appropriate.
Unless proven guilty, a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent. The burden of evidence in a criminal case is on the state to prove each factor beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant also has a fundamental right not to testify at trial or to incriminate himself or herself in any way. The state must follow very specific rules of proof when trying any criminal case, and an experienced Los Angeles Los Angeles Attorney will be well aware of those rules and will keep the state liable if they are broken.
There are some potential defenses to a sexual assault charge:
According to one traditional statement, the victim consented, assuming that the victim had the legal, emotional, and physical capacity to consent.
Another possible argument is that the defendant did not contact the alleged victim for sexual pleasure, stimulation, or assault purposes.
There is also the option of bringing a motion to suppress facts gathered in violation of the defendant's civil rights, such as physical evidence obtained from the victim or the crime scene.
Find A Sexual Assault Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles.
Sexual assault lawsuits are often complicated. They require a lot of investigation to be successful in court. 1000Attorneys.com provides a referral service to pre-screened California lawyers. You will be matched up with a fitting, experienced Los Angeles Attorney after you fill up our referral forms. You may also access our 24/7 live chat for a free initial case review.