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Sexual Assault and the Law: What You Need to Know

Since initial allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced, more and more women have become empowered to share their stories of sexual assault, and hold the perpetrators accountable. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, someone in the US is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Even still, experts say events of sexual abuse are underreported, so it’s likely the number of assaults is even higher.

When an incident of assault occurs, deciding what to do next can be extremely overwhelming and intimidating. The choice to bring legal charges against the perpetrator is entirely personal. For some, a lawsuit helps the survivor bring closure and a feeling of control over the incident. Others may prefer to put the painful occurrence behind them and focus on recovery.

The Law Office of D. Hardison Wood treats every sexual assault case with the utmost respect, confidentiality and compassion, and we take care to make our clients feel as comfortable as possible throughout the legal process. Read on to learn more about how a case involving sexual assault proceeds in the court system.

Filing Charges

First, it is important to know that there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault in the state of North Carolina. This means that no matter how long ago the assault happened, you can still report the incident to the police and bring your lawsuit to court.

Next, you and your lawyer will decide to file a civil suit or a criminal suit. Each type of lawsuit has its advantages and disadvantages. In a criminal case, the perpetrator can receive jail time, fines, probation and more. However, the burden of proof is much higher. Therefore, the chance of a “not guilty” verdict or a hung jury are increased. A criminal case may also require the survivor of the incident to take the stand as a witness in front of a jury, which can be a difficult and emotionally trying process.

In civil court, since there is not a specific cause of action for sexual assault, the plaintiff sues the defendant for damages based on assault, battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Factors that affect the filing include when and where the assault occurred, the identity of the perpetrator, the type of injury inflicted and any resulting medical or psychological treatment from the incident. It is important to open and honest with your attorney so they can best assess your case and fight for a positive outcome.

The Proceedings

After initial meetings with your attorney, your trial proceedings will take place. While no two cases are exactly alike, the experienced lawyers at Hardison Wood will take the time to walk you through each step so you are comfortable and confident in your decision. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual assault or harassment and wish to meet with an attorney, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood for a free and confidential consultation.

This entry was posted in Personal Injury, Sexual Assault.