With the passage of laws in California that grant sexual abuse victims extended timeframes and rights to take action against abusers, it is unsurprising that landmark settlements for sex abuse victims have transpired in recent years.
While cases such as the MacLaren Hall victim lawsuits against L.A. County shed light on a disturbing reality of sexual abuse occurring in California, the state’s progressive laws have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements for victims of child abuse, clergy abuse, rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault and battery to get justice for the sex crimes they’ve undergone.
If you’ve experienced any of these traumatic sex crimes, you deserve justice. And California’s progressive laws allow victims from any time period (with recently extended statutes of limitations) to pursue their abusers in civil court for rightfully owed monetary compensation. Follow along in this comprehensive guide about California’s legal statutes for abuse victims, what to look for in a California sexual abuse attorney, and a look into the step-by-step processes for receiving compensation from a civil lawsuit.
What Types of Abuse are Covered Under California Sex Crime Legal Statues?
California’s sex abuse laws and the recent passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 1619 giving victims that were previously unable to file claims due to statutes of limitation an extended period of time to seekout justice, protect victims of various types of sex abuse.
If any of the following situations apply to your experience, you’re entitled to compensation and should book a meeting with a California sex abuse lawyer.
Here are specific sex crimes covered under California law:
1. Sexual Assault & Battery
Sexual assault is protected under California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 243.4 (you can learn more about this law and other California sex crime laws in the source list at the bottom of the article)
A victim is able to take action if their private parts were touched without consent while restrained for the purpose of “sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.”
California’s penal code sections 261, 261.5, 262, and 264 outline the definitions and punishments for statutory, spousal, and non-spousal rape.
Victims are entitled to take legal action if any of the following circumstances are met:
- The victim was unable to give legal consent due to age, disability, being under the influence
- The victim was asleep or unconscious and unaware the assault was occurring (often referred to as date rape)
- “If it is accomplished against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.”
- “perpetrator’s fraudulent representation that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it served no professional purpose.”
3. Statutory Rape
Sex with a minor (a person under the age of 18) is unlawful in California according to the following criteria:
- “Any person who engages in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is not more than three years older or three years younger than the perpetrator.”
- “Any person 21 years of age or older who engages in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is under 16 years of age”
If, as a child, you were assaulted by an adult family member, church official, teacher, or by someone in any setting, you’re entitled to take legal action against the individual that committed the crime (and their organization, e.g. a church or school, if they systematically allowed the abuse to happen.)
4. Sexual Harassment
California law protects victims who experienced unwanted gestures such as sexualized comments or advances. As explained by the California Department of Justice directly, “sexual harassment refers to both unwelcome sexual advances, or other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex. Under California law, the offensive conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire but may be based upon an employee’s actual or perceived sex or gender identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and/or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
Sexual harassment can often be seen as a ‘gray area’ in the law, so you’ll want to consult with a California sex abuse attorney about the circumstances surrounding your case for clarity around your ability to take legal action.
How Sex Crime Victims in California Can Take Legal Action
Thanks to California’s progressive sex crime laws and their recent legislation that extended the statutes of limitations for victims of assault that took place at any time historically, you’re able to take action against your abuser by working with a California sexual abuse attorney. Follow these steps to pursue litigation against an individual (or organization if systemic abuse occurred ) and earn a payout:
1. Talk to A California Sex Abuse Attorney
Sex abuse attorneys in CA are familiar with the intricate details of the Golden State’s laws. By talking to an attorney about the circumstances of your assault, they can confirm that your abuse is protected under California law, explain the legal process in full, and verify the type of settlement you can expect to receive.
Often, attorneys are open to working on contingency, meaning your attorneys will not be compensated until you receive a settlement (meaning you won’t owe anything out of pocket in the meantime.)
2. File Your Claim With California
Once your attorney gathers the required information and supporting evidence, they will file a formal complaint on your behalf. This complaint details the events that transpired related to your sexual abuse and the expected compensation for your suffering.
3. Focus on Collecting a Settlement
Once the discovery process is completed, the defendant (the alleged abuser and/or the organization that allowed for systemic abuse) and their attorneys will often move to settle ahead of the case, making it to court.
You and your legal team can either accept a settlement when the offers come through (if you feel the provided number is adequate) or negotiate with the defendant’s legal team to come to more agreeable terms. If you cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case will be taken to trial.
Get the Justice You Deserve for Your Sexual Assault Without Paying Out-of-pocket
Sex abuse lawyers are often open to working with victims on contingency. That means your legal action to take your abuser to civil court will be cost-free until the attorney gets you the compensation you deserve in the form of a settlement.
If you’ve undergone any type of sexual abuse, from sexual assault to statutory rape, you’re entitled to compensation. Book a call with a California sex abuse attorney today to get started.