Richmond VA Sexual Abuse Attorney
One instance of sexual abuse will have a profound impact on the victim’s life. The victim may be fearful to step outside their home if the abuse was a chance criminal action or they may be wary to trust a new person if the abuse was the result of an initial meeting or date gone awry. Regardless of the situation, sexual abuse is a devastating time in any person’s life and a claim may be filed by your Richmond sexual abuse attorney in civil court, in addition to a criminal complaint.
Sexual abuse can encompass many different types of actions, the majority of which fall within the criminal code. There is typically no “sexual abuse” action that you may bring a claim under, but you may bring a claim under assault and battery, or even under the intentional infliction of emotional distress. An experienced Richmond personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you on the best type of claim to bring for your individual action. Many instances of sexual abuse continue to go unreported throughout the state of Virginia, and throughout the country. The more actions (both civil and criminal) which are brought against the perpetrators, the more likely it will become that these individuals will not attack future victims. The emotional wounds left from the sexual abuse may take time to heal from, but it is important to hold the attacker liable for their actions.
What Is Considered Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse or assault can refer to any action against you without your consent. It can be physical, verbal or mental. Someone does not have to touch you to be guilty of committing sexual abuse against you. Putting you in undesired situations can also constitute sex abuse, such as sexualizing a child or forcing you to watch private sexual acts. If you are not sure if what you experienced constitutes sexual abuse, speak to one of our Richmond sexual abuse lawyers during a private and confidential consultation for counsel.
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
- Child sexual abuse
- Drug-facilitated sexual abuse
- Internet sex crimes
- Intimate partner sexual violence
- Nonconsensual touching
- Rape or unwanted penetration
- Sexual harassment
Any sexual acts you did not agree to could qualify as sexual abuse, whether someone physically touched you or not. A sexual predator could be a stranger, a coach, a priest, a coworker, a boss, a date, a friend or a family member. The offender can be of the same or the opposite sex. After an encounter or attack that left you feeling scared, intimidated, injured, traumatized or violated, speak to our sexual abuse attorneys in confidence about whether you have a sexual abuse or assault claim. We can help you through this difficult time.
How a Richmond Sexual Abuse Attorney Can Help
If you contact a sexual abuse lawyer in Richmond after experiencing this traumatic crime, he or she can immediately go to work on your case. Your lawyer can investigate the incident and identify one or more parties who may owe you financial compensation. The sexual abuser may not be the only defendant in your case. If another party, such as your employer or a company, should reasonably have prevented the incident, that party could also be partially liable for the situation.
Your lawyer can then go about collecting evidence. Medical records, forensic reports, police reports, photographs, eyewitness statements, and surveillance footage could all serve as important evidence for your civil sexual abuse lawsuit. Your attorney can revisit places and people who you do not wish to face after surviving sexual abuse. When it is time to file the claim, your lawyer can fill out the paperwork and bring your claim before the state’s deadline. The statute of limitations is 20 years from the time the survivor turns 18 for child sexual abuse and 2 years for adult sexual abuse or assault.
Next, your lawyer can fight aggressively for fair results and proper financial compensation on your behalf. While you focus on rebuilding your life and recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse, your lawyer can handle all legal aspects of your claim. Your sexual abuse lawyer can keep your identity anonymous during the claims process if desired. Your attorney will make sure no one takes advantage of you during your sex abuse claim in Richmond. If your case has to go to court, an attorney from Pendleton Law can represent you before a judge or jury.
Personal Injury Claims
While sexual abuse and sexual assault actions seem to be primarily a criminal action, victims have the ability to bring a civil claim for damages at the same time the criminal case is pending. Criminal cases and civil cases do not have to overlap, and the decision of one court will not impact the decision of the other court. Criminal courts have a higher burden of proof than civil courts, and it is therefore sometimes easier for a victim to receive a punitive judgment in a civil court than in a criminal court.
The damages in a sexual abuse personal injury claim will often come from the physical and emotional harm caused to the victim. The victim of a sexual abuse claim is entitled to bring a claim for damages against the responsible party, including the following:
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Punitive damages
The impact of sexual abuse can often be both physical and psychological and can have a profound effect on a victim’s future. An experienced Richmond sexual abuse attorney will assist you in developing your claim and determining the true impact of the sexual abuse on the victim. While the aftermath of a sexual abuse incident is a difficult time, it is important to bring a claim for damages as soon as possible to ensure the attacker is appropriately punished for their actions, and to ensure you remain within the limitations period.
Penalties for Sex Crimes in Virginia
At Pendleton Law, we believe those who commit sex crimes should face both criminal and civil consequences. We are passionate about holding sex offenders responsible for their crimes through the civil justice system, advocating for survivors’ rights every step of the way. We are also well-versed in the criminal consequences of sex crimes in Virginia. If the person who abused or assaulted you receives a conviction, he or she could face severe penalties depending on the type of crime.
- Sexual battery. Class 1 misdemeanor. A maximum fine of up to $2,500 and/or a prison sentence of up to one year. The attempted sexual battery comes with the same punishments.
- Aggravated sexual battery. Felony. One to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.
- Felony. Five years to life in prison. Forcible sodomy is also a felony with a maximum sentence of life in prison, as is object sexual penetration.
- Attempted rape. Class 4 felony. Two to 20 years in prison and a max fine of $100,000. The same penalties apply to attempted forcible sodomy and attempted object sexual penetration.
- Carnal knowledge of minors between 13 and 15. Class 4 felony. Two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. This charge could apply even if the minor gave his or her consent.
- Sexual abuse of a child under 15. Class 1 misdemeanor. Maximum sentence of 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Sexual abuse or assault between family members is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, with consequences such as 12 months in prison and/or a fine of $2,500 maximum.
The state of Virginia classifies 20 different sexual assault crimes total, each with unique definitions and penalties. If someone receives three misdemeanor convictions for sex crimes, he or she will face a Class 6 felony charge, with punishments such as up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Our lawyers can help you build a civil sexual abuse claim during or after the completion of a criminal case against the same defendant. The courts in Richmond may extend your statute of limitations until the resolution of a criminal case. Contact us for more information.
What to Do After You’ve Experienced Sexual Abuse
The process of healing from sexual abuse starts with taking a few steps to protect yourself. First, get to a safe place away from the attacker or sex offender. Go to the police station or a hospital as soon as you can or call the police from your home to report the incident. If you need sexual abuse counseling, call the national hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673). You may be in shock after experiencing sexual trauma. This could leave you feeling overwhelmed as your limbic system tries to process your emotions and perceived threats. A counselor can help you through these feelings.
Connect with someone you trust for support, whether it is a friend or a family member. This can help combat common post-traumatic feelings such as shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and isolation. If you do not have someone you can trust with this information, call a crisis hotline for an anonymous chat with someone trained to listen and advise. Then, pursue medical attention. Immediate medical attention could treat any bodily injuries and potentially collect evidence that could build a case against the assailant. In most states, the window for collecting this forensic evidence is 72 hours.
Next, file a police report. If you have not already called the police, do so after your examination at the hospital. The hospital can work with the police to exchange information and evidence involved in your case. Give the police your side of the story in full, in as much detail as you can. You can always call the police and give more details later if they come back to you after some of the psychological trauma has passed.
Finally, consider your legal options. Calling the police could set a criminal investigation in motion against your perpetrator. Cooperating with the police as much as you can help the courts reach a conviction for sexual abuse or assault against the person who hurt you. You should also contact a sexual abuse lawyer in Richmond to discuss the possibility of filing a civil claim. A civil claim will serve to bring you justice and compensation, rather than only punishing the defendant. A successful civil lawsuit could repay you for economic and noneconomic losses.
Consult a Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Richmond, VA
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Pendleton Law. Our legal team has years of experience in handling personal injury claims and will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Sexual abuse claims are traumatic events in any victim’s life and the recreation of the event during the claim process will undoubtedly cause extreme emotional distress. Our Richmond accident lawyers will take the majority of the work and pressure from you so you can focus on your own recovery. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.