One of the most difficult and confusing things any person can be forced to endure is sexual abuse. Should you decide to take the brave step of standing up to an abuser, the first thing to do is immediately contact your local police department. Sexual abuse is a crime. Furthermore, a criminal case against an abuser will help you in any civil suit you might pursue.
An Allentown sexual abuse and assault lawyer helps people who want to bring civil lawsuits against their abusers, in addition to any criminal charges that may go forward. A skilled attorney could fight with compassion and tenacity for people who have been sexually abused and their families, helping to obtain the monetary compensation that can bring peace of mind and closure.
The state’s criminal statutes consider many illegal acts forms of sexual abuse. These include the most serious examples of rape and sexual assault, as well as instances of sexual battery and inappropriate contact. Regardless of the form of abuse, the district attorney’s office should prosecute the case. This is an effective first step in seeking justice.
Even if a criminal court convicts an abuser of the worst form of sexual abuse, it cannot order the guilty person to compensate a person who has been abused. For someone to receive compensation from an abuser, they must take the initiative and file a civil lawsuit. Even though criminal and civil cases arise from the same situation, they are handled independently.
That’s not to say the outcome of a criminal case cannot play a significant role in a civil demand for compensation: If a criminal court finds a defendant guilty of assault or abuse, that same defendant cannot argue the abuse did not occur in a related civil case. A sexual abuse and assault attorney in Allentown could help a person bring complaints to law enforcement and use the outcome of a criminal case to pursue demands for monetary compensation.
People who have been sexually assaulted should be aware there is a statute of limitations within which they must file their cases in civil court. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 42 § 5524 gives most people two years from the date of discovery of harm to file a suit. This can complicate bringing lawsuits alleging sexual abuse, since issues concerning repressed memories or psychological abuse can prevent a plaintiff from coming forward within the two-year timeframe.
State law has exceptions to this general, two-year rule. If the abuse occurred when a person was a minor, they have until their 30th birthday to bring a complaint to civil court. A lawyer in Allentown could help determine if changes to local laws allow for civil sexual abuse and assault complaints that fall outside the usual statute of limitations.
Filing a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse in civil court takes a great deal of personal courage. The physical and psychological abuse experienced in many cases can take years to reconcile. When you make the decision to stand up to an abuser, the police should be your first point of contact. Regardless of the outcome of any criminal proceedings, though, remember that you have the right to initiate a civil suit against an abuser.
An Allentown sexual abuse and assault lawyer is here to help. We will listen to your story and concerns with compassion and patience. By selecting the proper causes of action for your case, we may offer you the best chance for a positive outcome. Contact us now to get started.