Trigger Warning: This page may contain content that is painful or upsetting for individuals who have been sexually assaulted or have experienced sexual abuse. If you experience distress while reading the following content, you can reach a support specialist through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-4673.
Sexual assault and battery is a sweeping problem that impacts millions of people nationwide. Yet, despite how prevalent these experiences are, many people still feel immense pressure to stay silent, attempt to justify the bad behavior, and internally cope with the effects of their trauma.
When someone is touched without their consent, or forced to engage in sexual acts against their will, this can result in a number of feelings, including confusion, shame, and fear.
After an experience of sexual assault, it can be difficult to know how to feel and what to do. You may be unsure of how to name the violence perpetrated against you. You are not alone.
Do I Have Rights As A Victim Of Sexual Assault?
The short answer is: yes. When it comes to incidents of sexual assault and battery, the law is on your side—and the experienced sexual assault and battery attorneys of Florin|Roebig can help.
At Florin|Roebig, our sexual assault lawyers understand how intimidating and difficult it can be to consider taking legal action after sexual assault. Our attorneys are competent in this matter and qualified to handle sexual assault cases with care and respect for clients of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
If you have experienced sexual assault, understand that this was not your fault. Something happened without your consent, and that is not okay. Learn more about your rights and how to find a sexual assault and battery attorney near you.
What Is Sexual Assault?
There are many terms that can be used to describe incidents of unwanted sexual contact or violence, including sexual harassment, molestation, rape, and sexual assault.
By legal definition, sexual assault can refer to any type of non-consensual, physical contact, regardless of whether it was violent and regardless of who perpetrated it (e.g. a stranger, coworker, romantic partner, spouse).
Lack of consent is the one essential component of all sex crimes. This includes the presence of ongoing consent throughout the duration of physical contact or sexual acts.
Types of sexual assault include:
- unwanted physical touching
- forced sexual acts (including nonconsensual anal and oral sex)
- attempted rape
- initiating sexual contact with someone who is:
- incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol
- unconscious (and therefore unable to provide consent)
- developmentally disabled
- judged to be mentally incompetent due to severe mental illness
Sexual assault can happen to individuals regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, social and economic class, intelligence, and general appearance. No one is immune to an experience of sexual violence.
What Is Sexual Battery?
Sexual battery is a form of sexual assault that typically does not include forced penetration or sodomy (oral or anal sex), but does involve non-consensual physical contact or sexual violence.
However, the definition of sexual battery also varies by state, creating variance in how different states may legally define and prosecute sex crimes. In some states, sexual battery is defined as forced sexual penetration.
Depending on how sexual battery is defined in your state, examples of sexual battery may include:
- touching an intimate part of the body (clothed or unclothed) without consent for the purpose of sexual arousal or pleasure
- touching an intimate body part of someone who is unconscious, intoxicated, seriously disabled, or otherwise incapacitated for the purpose of sexual arousal or pleasure
- forcing someone to touch an intimate body part belonging to the assaulter
- forcing a person to masturbate or engage in sexual contact with another person against the victim’s will
Where Can Sexual Assault And Battery Occur?
Many people have an idea of where they think sexual assault occurs, but this does not always capture the full picture. Any place or setting can be the site of sexual assault or battery.
Settings where sexual assault and battery may occur include:
- your home
- another person’s home
- college campus
- rideshare (Uber/Lyft) ride
Approximately eight out of 10 incidents of sexual assault are committed by someone who knows the victim. This dispels the common misconception of sexual assault primarily being perpetrated by a stranger, although this can occur as well.
Perpetrators of sexual assault may be friends, teachers, coworkers, supervisors, neighbors, classmates, relatives, acquaintances, or any other person known to you.
Effects Of Sexual Assault And Battery
Not every incident of sexual assault looks the same, nor does it affect each person in the same way. Sexual assault can have far-reaching effects on a person’s physical health and wellbeing, their mental and psychological health, as well as take a financial toll.
Common injuries and effects that can result from sexual assault include:
- cuts and bruises
- injuries from restraints or significant force
- unwanted pregnancy
- sexually transmitted diseases
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- difficulty or inability to attend to personal and professional obligations
Recovering from an experience of sexual assault is not a quick or easy process. Processing and addressing the effects of sexual assault can take weeks, months, and even years. Many people will require counseling, medical treatment services, and other community resources to aid them in this process.
Unfortunately, the physical, psychological, and financial losses commonly experienced by victims of sexual assault can become costly over time, resulting in an additional source of distress.
Taking legal action through filing a sexual assault claim or lawsuit is one way victims can seek compensation for the costs associated with their assault.
The types of losses (damages) that may be recoverable through a sexual assault and battery claim include:
- past and future medical expenses
- ongoing treatment costs related to your assault
- costs for terminating a pregnancy
- childbirth, pregnancy, or adoption expenses as applicable
- psychological and psychiatric counseling expenses
- emotional distress
- physical pain and suffering
The types of losses you are able to seek compensation for will depend on the details of your incident, as well as the type of legal action you choose to pursue.
Sexual Assault And Battery Laws In The U.S.
In the United States, sexual assault laws and legal definitions can vary by state. The applicable statute of limitations in each state will determine the time frame in which you may bring a legal action against a particular defendant, as well as the type of claim or lawsuit you are able to file.
There are different laws that apply to different types of inappropriate and non consensual sexual conduct. Certain populations, such as students on college campuses and children, respectively, are protected by specific laws, criminalizing sexual misconduct against certain individuals in specific settings.
All forms of sexual assault are considered criminal cases across the United States. Criminal charges, or penalties for these crimes, and whether an incident will be defined as a felony, will depend on the type of sexual assault that has occurred and other factors such as whether the victim is a child or someone who was assaulted by an authority figure (e.g. teacher, boss, psychotherapist).
Rape and nonconsensual sexual penetration are generally considered felonies, and charged as crimes in the first or second degree, depending on factors such as the type of force used, whether there was a deadly weapon involved, and whether the assault resulted in serious bodily injury.
Incidents of sexual battery or criminal sexual contact, on the other hand, where there has not been forced sexual penetration may receive lighter penalties. Sexual battery that involves the use or threat of a deadly weapon and criminal sexual contact that is committed by more than one person may be charged as felonies.
Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Assault And Battery Claims
The statute of limitations—or the amount of time a victim has to file a legal claim or lawsuit following sexual assault or battery—can vary depending on where you live in the U.S.
Factors that may be considered in determining the statute of limitations for a case include:
- the type of crime that occurred
- when the crime occurred (e.g. children who have been sexually assaulted may not realize the violence perpetrated against them for some time)
- who was involved in the crime
- any exceptions that apply (e.g. if there is DNA evidence, if the crime involved the use or threat of a deadly weapon)
Is Sexual Assault A Criminal Or Civil Case?
The recovery process for individuals who have experienced sexual assault is not the same for every person.
However, it should be understood that if you do wish to seek justice for your assault, there may be legal options available to hold a perpetrator(s) or a person or entity who holds an authoritative position over the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
If or when you have reported the incident to law enforcement, you may decide whether you wish to move forward with a criminal investigation. This is known as pressing charges.
You also have the option to file a civil to seek compensation for the costs and losses you have endured from the assault.
Here are some key differences to help you better understand whether a sexual assault or battery incident would be prosecuted as a crime or filed as a civil lawsuit:
In a civil suit for sexual assault:
- the plaintiff (victim of sexual assault) initiates the case
- the goal is to hold the defendant accountable to the victim to include compensatory and punitive damages
- if the defendant is found to be liable for the intentional and/or negligent conduct, the defendant may be ordered to pay monetary damages owed to the victim (including both economic and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering damages)
In a criminal prosecution for sexual assault:
- the state initiates the case
- the goal is to hold the defendant liable for the criminal conduct
- the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty
- if the defendant is found guilty, they may be subjected to probation or jail; ordered to pay restitution to the victim
Depending on the context of the incident, you may be able to name one or more defendants in a lawsuit—including the perpetrator(s) of the assault and any institution that may share liability for the assault, if applicable.
Examples of situations where there may be more than one defendant may include sexual assault that occurs in the workplace, at a school, and incidents of rideshare (Uber/Lyft) sexual assault.
Depending on the nature of the incident there are a number of causes of action which you can file a civil lawsuit. These causes of action can be categorized but not limited to one of the following causes of action:
- assault and battery
- false imprisonment
- intentional infliction of emotional distress
- negligent infliction of emotional distress
- negligent hiring
- negligent retention
If you’re unsure of whether you want to pursue legal action but wish to better understand your legal options, your best option is to speak to an experienced sexual assault and battery attorney who can review your case and provide legal guidance accordingly.
Victim Vs. Survivor: Which Is Correct?
Individuals who have experienced sexual assault may often have certain terms they prefer to use to describe themselves and the assault in the aftermath of sexual violence. Some people prefer the term sexual assault victim, while others prefer the term sexual assault survivor.
There is no wrong answer when it comes to the term you feel best describes your experience after an incident of sexual assault. If you have a preferred term, please let our attorneys know.
The content on this page uses both these terms intermittently, and neither is intended to discount or invalidate any individual’s experience.
Sexual Assault Attorneys Serving The U.S.
Having the right legal representation to guide and look out for your interests in your process of seeking justice matters—and that’s something the legal team at Florin|Roebig can provide.
Our sexual assault and battery attorneys have extensive experience helping sexual assault survivors seek compensation for injuries and losses resulting from their experience of violation.
We have law offices located in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and Colorado capable of offering unmatched legal services for individuals and loved ones who are seeking justice for sexual assault.
Our sexual assault and attorneys serving clients in the U.S. include:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Shaun M. Cummings
- Luca G. Esposito
- Chad K. Florin, M.B.A., LL.M.
- Nicholas S. Costantino
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Kavon P. Smith
- Matthew L. McMullen
- Michael A. Ossi, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Brian R. Dettman, O.C.
How To Find A Sexual Assault Lawyer Near You
No one deserves to feel alone or helpless in their path towards recovery and justice.
By calling the law firm of Florin|Roebig, we can schedule you for a confidential and free consultation with one of our top-rated sexual assault and battery attorneys to discuss the details of your case. Call us or submit an online form today to get in touch with a top-rated sexual assault attorney near you.