The physical, emotional, and psychological trauma stemming from sexual assault or voyeurism can be devastating for the victims and their loved ones, but the law provides ways to hold accountable the perpetrators of these crimes. In California, victims of sexual assault and voyeurism are able to hold their abusers accountable in court by filing a civil lawsuit for damages. At Williams Iagmin, LLP we have years of experience fighting for our clients who have been victims of sexual assault or voyeurism and we are here to help you, too.
Under California law, sexual assault is defined as the unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts. Sexual assault is an all-encompassing term that includes rape, sexual threats and intimidation, incest, child sex abuse, human sex trafficking, and other non-consensual sexual activity. Voyeurism is defined as prowling on the private property of another and peeking through any door or window as well as using any devices to look through a hole or opening to invade a person’s privacy in a location where thy would normally expect privacy.
Sexual assault and voyeurism are some of the least reported crimes in the United States, but the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault estimates that there are two million female rape victims in California and 8.6 million survivors of other sexual violence across the state. It is also estimated that there are three million male victims of sexual violence other than rape statewide. Victims of sexual assault and voyeurism do not have to stay quiet or wait for criminal charges. Survivors of these crimes can file civil lawsuits against the perpetrators for monetary damages in a California court.
Any person who is the victim of sexual assault or voyeurism can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. In California, criminal charges do not need to be filed or the police notified before filing a civil lawsuit. A victim may still be able to collect damages in civil court even if the prosecutor knows about the crimes and chooses not to file criminal charges. This is because the standard of proof in civil court is much lower than in criminal court. In criminal court, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the abuser committed the crime, but in civil court the assault needs to only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, or that the assault more likely than not took place.
In California, a victim of sexual assault or voyeurism has two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit for civil damages. However, if the assault happened to a child, they have until their 26th birthday or three years after the date the victim discovers the causal connection to the injury, whichever is later.
Victims of sexual assault and voyeurism are entitled to economic and non-economic damages in a civil lawsuit. Economic damages refer to all out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the assault. Medical expenses, lost wages, psychological counseling, and lost earning potential are all economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to the emotional and psychological costs of a sexual assault or voyeurism. This includes pain and suffering, mental anguish, PTSD, anxiety, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. The partner of a victim can also sue for loss of consortium following an assault.
California also allows for punitive damages in a civil lawsuit for sexual assault or voyeurism, which is meant to additionally punish the perpetrator. In order to be awarded punitive damages, the victim must prove that the assault happened with malice, oppression, or fraud.
If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual assault or voyeurism, call or contact the office of Williams Iagmin, LLP today for a free case evaluation. We promise to provide you with compassionate service for our clients and zealous advocacy in the courtroom to see justice served.