December 27, 2022
California’s sexual assault laws are designed to safeguard its residents from any form of coercive, fraudulent, or otherwise unlawful sexual acts. They define the parameters of criminal offenses and prescribe appropriate punishments for each instance that may transpire.
California’s legislation guarantees the right of residents to pursue civil claims against their abusers in court.
As awareness and knowledge of these crimes evolves, sexual assault laws have undergone alterations; this opportunity for justice is becoming more readily available to the victims of these heinous crimes.
In 2019, California passed Assembly Bill 218 (AB218), which serves as a major triumph for assault survivors and supporters alike. This reform provides additional protections to victims of sexual violence or abuse.
Overview of California’s Sexual Assault laws
Crimes of sexual nature can be prosecuted under California’s sexual assault, or sexual battery, laws. These laws prohibit any form of unsolicited touching of another individual’s private parts.
As per the California Penal Code private parts or intimate parts are defined as the victim’s “sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.”
Sexual assault leading to a non-consensual act of sexual intercourse is charged as rape under the law.
To prove a sexual assault case, the sexual assault attorney needs to establish the below-mentioned elements:
1. The victim’s private or intimate parts were touched by the offender while the victim was restrained (by the defendant or another individual). The touching may be direct or indirect through the clothing.
2. The victim was touched intimately against the victim’s will. It needs to be established that there was no consent to sexual contact or touch given by the victim.
3. The offender had engaged in the unwanted touching of the victim to receive sexual gratification or sexual arousal. If the victim was touched for a non-sexual purpose, like by a doctor during a medical examination, it is difficult for the attorney to establish the required elements for a successful claim.
Penal Code 243.4 PC defines sexual battery (also known as sexual assault) as touching a person’s intimate parts against their will to gratify oneself, arouse arousal, or sexually abuse them.
What are the charges and punishment for sexual assault cases in California?
In California, any instance of sexual assault can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Depending on the severity of the offense and other circumstances involved (such as whether it was committed against an employee or not), one could be liable for imprisonment of either 6 months up to 1 year as well as hefty monetary fines of up to $2,000 in criminal fines or $3,000 if the victim is an employee.
What Is the Statute of Limitation for Sexual Assault Claims in California?
In the case of civil cases, the time limit for filing a claim against sexual assault is determined based on whether the victim is an adult or a child.
If the victim was assaulted on or after their 18th birthday, they need to file a claim:
• Within 10 years from the date of the last assault. As per the new statute of limitations, if the victim was assaulted before 1st January 2019 the victim has only 2 years from the date of the attack to file a claim. OR
• Within3 years from the date that the victim uncovers evidence of injuries or illness that were triggered by the sexual assault.
If the victim of the assault is a child and aged under 18 years of age, the statute of limitations offers a longer period of time to file a claim.
• As per California’s Child Victims Act, which came into effect on January 1, 2020, childhood survivors of molestation or assault have time till their 40th birthday to file a civil claim. OR
• Up to a period of five years from the discovery of psychological trauma or impact caused due to the sexual abuse.
To help the victims of sexual assault who could not file their claim during the stipulated times’ framers, the act opened a three-year window starting January 1, 2020, allowing the survivors of any age with expired claims to file a civil lawsuit against their offender, a private organization, or the government.
How can a California Sexual Assault Lawyer help?
As a survivor of sexual assault, you are likely to experience numerous feelings ranging from confusion and apprehension to anger or impatience.
Of course, it is your prerogative to pursue civil action without legal representation; however, without representation chances are you might fail in succeeding and winning the case or receiving the justice you are entitled to.
It is not easy to come out in the open and fight a case against the perpetrator who is responsible for hurting you and causing you so much pain and anguish.
You have suffered already, don’t add to your pain by shouldering the responsibility of fighting the case alone in court. Sexual assault cases are complicated, one needs to have a thorough knowledge of the law before filing a case.
An experienced Sexual assault lawyer has the required knowledge and experience and will aggressively fight for justice and compensation on your behalf.
Khashan Law Firm has a team of Sexual Assault attorneys who have handled several sexual assault cases with a proven track record of successfully prosecuting offenders. Contact us today and let us be your voice for the rest of the way forward.