The Burden of Proof in a Sexual Assault Civil Case
Every minute and a half, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.
In many states, the laws are changing to help survivors of sexual assault. Unfortunately, numerous instances include only circumstantial evidence that leaves room for doubt, making it difficult to press criminal charges.
A sexual assault civil case, however, is much easier to prove.
If you or someone you know is a survivor, learn more about the evidence you’ll need in a civil case here.
Civil Versus Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
Before we discuss proof, it’s important to understand the distinctions between a criminal and civil case.
A criminal trial requires proof that establishes, beyond a reasonable doubt, of an individual’s guilt. If indicted of the charge, the individual faces prison time.
In a civil case, the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows survivors to fight for monetary compensation for what happened to them.
Proof in a Sexual Assault Civil Case
Where criminal cases require concrete evidence, civil cases must establish the perpetrator most likely committed the crime.
To convince a jury or court of sexual assault, witnesses who agree with your story are very helpful. They increase a plaintiff’s credibility.
The testimony of other survivors is also extremely helpful.
2. Physical Proof
Physical proof is strong evidence for any sexual assault case. If survivors come forward immediately after, a sexual assault kit collects evidence that is highly useful in court, including pictures, DNA samples and more.
However, many who are assaulted may not come forward for an extended period, making this proof difficult to obtain. For those times, do not lose hope; there are other forms of evidence used in court.
Almost 80% of sexual assault survivors know their assailant. It is highly likely individuals who sexually assault others will contact them before or after the experience.
Keep records of any contact with the defendant, including communication at work, in your personal life or with friends.
4. Photos and Documents
Similar to other crime scenes, evidence from the scene itself also plays a part in civil cases.
Trace and pattern evidence, such as hair follicles or shoe prints, can prove individuals were at the scene.
Take photos of the scene to help showcase such evidence. Also, write down every detail you recall about the incident.
5. Counseling Records
Finally, many survivors can take decades before they are ready to share what happened with loved ones. However, if they have told a counselor, those counseling records can be brought into a case to support what happened to them and the damage caused.
A sexual assault civil case can be a step towards healing. It lets survivors obtain the help they need to look ahead rather than dwell on the past. These cases require attorneys experienced in the pain and grief of child sexual abuse cases.
Attorney Steve Boyd has worked with survivors in many cases. He is a strong advocate for the rights of survivors and committed to fighting for you. Contact our office today to confidentially discuss your situation.