Sexual assault is a serious crime in Texas, and abusers deserve to be punished for what they have done. The court system allows for two different types of cases when crimes overlap with personal injury. Victims may pursue a criminal case, a civil case, and in some cases, both.
You can file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault by contacting Hartley Law Firm. Our experienced team will not only file against the perpetrator in pursuit of meaningful compensation but will also determine if there are other parties who may share liability for what happened to you. Our goal is to help you find financial stability, justice, and peace, no matter what it takes. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.
What Is the Difference Between a Criminal and a Civil Lawsuit for Texas Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault can and should lead to severe consequences for the perpetrator. The same abusive action can result in both criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit against the attacker, but there are significant differences in what each case seeks to achieve and the burden of proof to obtain justice. The two cases are independent of each other but can happen concurrently, and one case can impact the proceedings of another.
A civil lawsuit comes to fruition when you reach out to a personal injury attorney and file a civil lawsuit for Texas sexual assault. This type of case seeks to achieve monetary compensation for the damage that a victim has sustained. The damages can be financial, physical, mental, and emotional. In a civil lawsuit, the victim has to prove that it was more likely than not that the accused did sexually assault the victim.
A criminal prosecutor will work with law enforcement to prosecute the attacker for the crime of sexual assault. The goal of this type of case is to ensure public safety and punish the wrongdoers for their crimes. A successful criminal case often results in incarceration or some other form of limiting the freedoms of the perpetrator. Criminal prosecutions have a higher burden of proof than civil lawsuits, and the criminal prosecutor must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Effects of One Case on the Other
If criminal proceedings result in prosecution and conviction before the civil lawsuit for Texas sexual assault, the defendant will already have been found guilty at a higher standard of proof. This can greatly benefit your civil case. However, if the accused is not found guilty in the criminal trial, that does not mean your civil lawsuit will be unsuccessful. The victim may still prevail because the burden of proof is lower.
One example is when O.J. Simpson was famously accused of murdering Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The jury in the criminal trial did not convict Simpson, but he was found liable for the deaths in the civil trial.
Who Should Be Held Liable for Sexual Assault?
Obviously, the person who committed the act should be responsible for what happened, but in some cases, there may have been others who enabled the abuse or attack. If the perpetrator was a member of church leadership, a teacher at a school, a volunteer at a youth club, or an employee of a business, and the organization knew or should have known of the assault, they may be held liable.
When filing a Texas civil lawsuit for sexual assault, your attorney will take into consideration the unique circumstances of your case and determine who may have had a duty to protect you and failed that duty. One highly-publicized example is the Catholic church, which was found to have knowledge that some of its clergy members were pedophiles or sexual abusers and, instead of defrocking them, moved around to different churches.
How Long Do You Have to File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Assault in Texas?
Most personal injury claims in Texas have a two-year statute of limitations. Because of the unique nature of sexual abuse, the deadline to file is longer. It can take time for victims of sexual abuse to process what they have been through and make the decision to stand up for themselves.
The statute of limitations for filing a Texas civil lawsuit for sexual assault for adults is five years from the date of the offense. For children under the age of 17 when they were abused, the time frame ranges from 10 to 20 years after the victim turns 18, and the time frame is longer for criminal cases.
The sooner you can file a civil lawsuit for sexual assault in Texas, the easier it will be to retrace your steps, remember important details, and obtain evidence. Take the time you need to process, but know that we are here and ready when you are. Reach out to us to discuss your case with a Texas sexual abuse attorney.