Sexual abuse is one of the most severe crimes anyone could commit. A sexual act case can be written down as sexual abuse when the abuse was performed to abuse, harass, humiliate or degrade another person.
The sexual act can differ based on many factors. One such factor is the age of the victim. If the victim is a child or an underage person, it is regarded as child molestation, and when the victim is a legal adult according to the particular state’s laws, it is written under rape or aggravated sexual abuse.
If the act was performed against a minor with an intent to arouse the child or to satisfy one’s own sexual needs, the person guilty would be charged as a child molester or child sexual abuser. When the individual takes part in sexual activity without the other person’s consent, and if the other person is a major, they will be charged with rape.
The sexual act committed against an adult through force, violence, intimidation, or instilled fear of serious bodily harm against the will of the victim is classified as rape. Statutory rape is a crime where an individual has engaged in a sexual act with a minor (any individual below 18 years of age) even though they have given consent. This is because, in many states, minors are not classified as able people to give consent towards any activity. The age of the victim for statutory rape can vary from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state’s laws.
What Is Aggravated Sexual Abuse?
Aggravated sexual abuse is the case where an individual has engaged in sexual activity with the victim if,
- A weapon for force or to lure the victim into submission was used
- A minor family member was involved making it a case of statutory rape,
- If the victim is over 60 years old
- If the person committing the crime made the situation such that the victim has no choice but to comply, and if they won’t, they will be in danger.
- If brute force was used and the victim was physically made incapable of protecting themselves,
- If the victim is physically or mentally challenged or has any other illness that renders them incapable of giving proper consent.
Criminal Penalties for Sexual Abusers
Each state has its own laws against sexual abusers. A child molester will be charged with the following penalties:
- Will be registered as a child molester for the rest of their lifetime
- Will be sentenced to prison
- Will not be able to make any child custody claims
- Will be asked to pay a sexual offender fine
- Will lose the right to vote
- Will need to attend sexual offenders’ therapy programs
Although if the crime is proved to be a misdemeanor, the offender will have to pay a fine, serve over a year in prison, and perform required community service programs given by the state. The same punishments will be applied if the crime is a felony, but, in addition, the person will lose privileges like voting and gun ownership.
The sex offenders’ information will be recorded and kept in the databases. Therefore, the general public will be able to know if a particular person is a sex offender by searching up the individual’s name. Also, the prison time for sex offenders can range from a year to a lifetime, depending on the severity of the case.
Sexual Abuse Defenses
Few defenses exist that can lessen the penalties for an abuser. The most important factor in sexual abuse cases is consent. Being married does not mean that consent is given. The exact words of the victim and the meanings may differ. Hence obtaining this information is crucial.
Another defense is insanity or decreased mental capacity. If the abuser can be proven with these, there is a chance the court will decrease their punishments. The defense can argue that their client did not know what they were doing. But to prove this, medical reports and tests are mandatory.
What To Do If You Are a Victim
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you need to immediately report the matter to law enforcement agencies. As sexual abuse cases are fragile, every aspect before, during, and after the incident will be considered. The authorities will collect all the evidence regarding the case. There should be enough evidence, or else the authorities may try to shut down the case. Once there is evidence, the prosecution against the abuser begins. Victims of the same abuser can come together and even start a class-action lawsuit against the abuser.
The victim should have a civil abuse lawyer hired as a mandatory move. Based on the case being a civil lawsuit, monetary compensation will be decided on.
Statute of limitations is another important factor in sexual abuse cases. It is the period in which the victim can file a case. This is to ensure that the evidence does not get tampered in the duration of time. Again, this differs between states, and recently, some states are even lifting away this aspect to give the victims more chances to acquire justice.
Importance of a Lawyer in Civil Sexual Abuse Cases
The first step when filing a sexual abuse case is hiring a lawyer. The technicalities will be strict in sexual abuse cases, and victims will more often than not be given improper justice. Sexual assault can change the life of a victim. The mental, emotional, and physical changes that you go through while fighting your case before the court will be very exhausting. To help you through the process and prove the facts to the jury and get you your justice, you need to hire an experienced sexual abuse lawyer.