Sexual abuse has to do with the mistreatment of people in a sexual way. Child molestation is an example. All states have laws in place that recognize that children lack the capacity to give informed consent to a sex act.
Sexual abuse includes both physical contact and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors include exposing a child to pornography or trying to look at a naked child. Sexual abuse affects girls and boys in all communities. The age that consent can be given ranges from 16 to 18 years old. Sexual abuse of children is a criminal act.
Sexual abuse cases are controlled by a wide range of laws and regulations because sexual abuse happens in many different settings: at a doctor’s office, at school, in church, in a parent’s house, with organization leaders like Boy Scouts, and in the workplace. While experienced Maryland sexual abuse victims lawyers know that sometimes the abuse is done by a stranger, more often than not it is done by someone the victim knows. And beyond that, someone they trust, look up to or even admire. A personal injury attorney could provide more information.
One of the earliest decisions victims of sexual assault or abuse may face involves whether or not to pursue criminal actions against the person who abused them. This decision will not be entirely up to the victim, but the first step will be one that the victim must decide. In order to pursue a criminal case, the crime has to be reported to law enforcement by the victim.
After the crime has been reported, the decision to pursue a criminal case involves the following steps:
- Arresting the offender
- Prosecution of the offender in a jury trial
- Determination of the offender’s guilt or innocence
- The decision to sentence the offender to prison time
A criminal case is pursued by a prosecuting attorney, who is chosen by the state. The crime committed is considered a crime “against the state.” Victims play the role of a witness in these trials, but the control of the case remains with the state.
Civil Trials: How Are They Different?
A criminal case can be very difficult to prove because the burden of proof for the prosecutor requires guilt to be certain of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In contrast, a civil trial requires that the victims and their attorney prove that it is more likely than not that the accused perpetrator is liable. Unlike a criminal trial, the victim is in control of the case. In a Maryland sexual abuse lawsuit, a victim initiates the case with the assistance of a sexual abuse lawyer. All decisions about the direction of the case and any potential settlements remain with the victim.
In a criminal trial, the defendant must answer to the state. The goal of a civil lawsuit is to require the defendant to compensate the victim for the abuse or assault the victim faced.
Every year, millions of Americans endure a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault involves unconsented behavior that includes contact with another person. It often results in a sense of powerlessness for the victim. According to statistics, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime with 85% of the sexual assaults involving alcohol. Although all states recognize the crime of sexual assault, each state has different definitions. The most common forms of sexual assault can be in the form of:
- Kissing, caressing or making unconsented bodily contact.
- Rape – sexual intercourse that unconsented.
- Sexual contact with minors, both consensual and not consensual.
- Forcing object (body part, or foreign object) on any part of another person.
- Forced sodomy or masturbation
Consent, or lack thereof, is a critical part of sexual assault cases. Sexual assault is considered a criminal offense when the offender forces sexual conduct on someone against their will or the person is incapable of consent. Most states criminalize sex with minors under the age of fifteen, disabled people, someone who is mentally ill, or someone who is incapacitated – whether that be with drugs, alcohol or being unconscious.
Sexual harassment is much broader than sexual assault. A common form includes sexual coercion, where a person could say, “If you don’t sleep with me your grades will suffer.” Unwanted sexual attention includes unwanted touching, kissing, and even pressure for dates and sexual behavior. For it to be considered unlawful they need to be considered unwelcome and unpleasant. Gender harassment is the most common of them all and includes the use of sexual terms, images, and bodily comments. It is usually sexist, where genders are put into categories where they are suited for stereotypical gender activities. Most forms of sexual harassment entail no sexual advance.
It is never the victim’s fault and for psychological and physical damages, justice and compensation need to exist. In some cases, it is necessary to bring not only legal action against the offender but also frequently to a third party due to premises liability, including:
- Nursing Homes
Contact an Experienced Maryland Sexual Abuse Victims Lawyer
The long-term effects of being sexually assaulted or abused will not be cured through a financial settlement. But a financial settlement may help victims with any medical bills that they may have. Receiving compensation from the person who hurt them also holds the perpetrator accountable and allows the victims to move further along their journey to heal. The Maryland sexual abuse victims lawyers at KBA Attorneys are ready to discuss your case with the empathy that you deserve. Contact KBA Attorneys to discuss your first steps in pursuing justice.