Not only are incidents of sexual assault handled through the criminal justice system, there are several ways in which the victims can also recover damages through civil actions. Here is an overview of the differences between criminal and civil actions for sexual assault and the common types of civil actions that are available to victims.
Difference between Criminal & Civil Actions for Sexual Assault
A defendant charged with a sex crime is granted all of the constitutional rights that every criminal defendant in the U.S. is entitled to, including the presumption of innocence and the “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. This means that in order for a jury to find the defendant not guilty, they must not have any legitimate doubts about his or her innocence.
On the contrary, defendants in civil lawsuits are not entitled to such a high burden of proof. Instead, civil law applies the standard of “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning the jury must find that the defendant is “more likely than not” to have done whatever he or she is alleged to have committed. Therefore, prevailing in a civil lawsuit is much easier than succeeding in a criminal action.
Common Types of Civil Actions for Sexual Assault Victims
There is no such thing as a “sexual assault” cause of action in civil law, which means that the victim will not be able to file lawsuit against the defendant based on reason. Instead, the victim can file a lawsuit for one of several intentional torts, meaning wrongful acts that the defendant committed intentionally to harm the plaintiff.
Some of the common civil actions that victims of sexual assault can use include the following:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Assault and battery
- False imprisonment
Not only do plaintiffs have the benefit of a less stringent burden of proof, they are also entitled to monetary damages from defendants. It is not uncommon for sexual assault victims to pursue both criminal and civil action.
Arrested for Sexual Assault in Ventura County?
If you have been charged with sexual assault, you need to be aware of the possible outcomes of the case. Obtaining a guilty verdict in criminal court can make filing a successful civil action much easier to do.
At Wilfert Law P.C., we are committed to helping our clients get the best results possible. Our Ventura criminal defense attorneys can investigate your case, assess all of the evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and build an effective defense strategy just for you.