Proving sexual assault in a civil case is somewhat easier than it is in a criminal case, due to the lower standard of proof applied to evidence of liability. Rather than punishment for the perpetrator, civil cases focus on compensating the survivors, awarding damages that represent the trauma they endured at the time of the assault and how it will continue throughout their life.
The New York sexual assault attorneys of Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin are committed to helping survivors find justice in civil court. Continue reading to learn about the types of evidence used to build a compelling civil case and hold perpetrators accountable.
The “burden of proof” or “standard of proof” is the level of certainty required to prove a case in court.
In civil cases, the plaintiff brings the lawsuit and has the burden to prove their case. The “preponderance of the evidence” is the standard of proof applied in civil cases. The plaintiff must show–with compelling evidence and at least 51% certainty—that a sex crime occurred.
In criminal cases, on the other hand, the state must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a crime occurred based on the statutory definition of the crime in question. This is a much higher standard of proof by comparison.
It’s important to note that a criminal conviction is not required to file a civil lawsuit. It can proceed regardless of the outcome of the criminal case for the same assault. While there may not be sufficient proof to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the same offender may still be held liable civilly.
Evidence that can be introduced to prove civil sexual abuse claims confirms that the assault occurred, while other types of evidence show how the assault impacted your life.
Evidence in civil sexual assault cases might include:
Though it is true that a criminal case is not a prerequisite to a civil case, evidence gathered in either investigation may be used in both. Your lawyer will be sure to retrieve the evidence from any corresponding criminal investigation and trial.
Under the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) individuals who were assaulted at age 18 or older can sue in civil court, regardless of when the abuse took place. There is currently an open look-back window that lifts the statute of limitations. This window closes on November 23, 2023. Anyone assaulted when they were younger than 18 may be able to file a civil lawsuit under the Child Victims Act.
Though it is certainly more challenging to obtain evidence from older sexual assault incidents, it is far from impossible. Our sexual abuse victim attorneys have the experience, skill and professional network needed to conduct the extensive investigation required of these cases. We work diligently to uncover key evidence in civil sexual abuse cases—even those that happened years ago.
Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP is New York’s trusted firm when it comes to these highly sensitive matters. We aggressively pursue matters of sexual abuse, assault, and sexual harassment. Let us do the same for you. Call today or connect online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.