After somebody has accused you of sexual assault, they can choose to file a lawsuit against you in civil or criminal court. Criminal court is where all of these matters become crucial, later giving rise to civil court if the option becomes available and the plaintiff wants to receive damages for the crime. If you have been found guilty of the crime of sexual assault, the reality is that you could face jail time, fines, probation, and other sanctions. However, it will really depend upon the circumstances of the case. For instance, the charges may be much more harsh if you are charged with first degree sexual assault, where you were probably accused of engaging in sexual intercourse to the point where it inflicted bodily injury to someone.
If you have been charged with the crime in criminal court, the victim may take up a civil court action against you for certain types of compensation. Since there is no “cause of action” for sexual assault, the victim will probably attempt to find a theory that will hold you liable like assault and battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress. The damages that stem from these cases will come from physical or emotional harm that the plaintiff says they suffered because of the incident. If you are found to be liable for these damages, they might be pretty high and you may find the number quite difficult. This is why it is especially important to have an attorney protecting you through this process.
What the Plaintiff Has to Prove
The first step is essentially receiving the criminal charges. If you are convicted of the crime, only then will the civil court become an aspect in your case. A legal rule known as “collateral estoppel” will entitle the plaintiff to bring evidence into a civil case that the judge in a criminal case found the defendant guilty of committing sexual assault. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is a much harder standard to meet, so this is where you will need the most protection.
Defending Yourself From Charges
If you have an attorney on your side to defend you from charges right from the start, the outcome will be much smoother for you. For instance, you may find that any one of these defenses will help you in the midst of a criminal case:
- Innocence: Perhaps you never committed the crime in question, and this is the most basic defense you can use to prove that. Maybe you can present an alibi for where you were and whom you were with the time that the alleged sexual assault took place. You may also have been misidentified, which in this case, you cannot be held responsible.
- Consent: Did the crime occur against the will of the victim? If not, you cannot be charged with the crime. Consent may be difficult to prove but not impossible in many cases.
- Insanity: If you had a mental disease at the time of the crime, you cannot be charged with the crime in question.
These cases can be extremely trying and difficult, and the emotions will be high. This is why it is important that you have an experienced defense attorney on your side to help you protect your rights at all costs.