Sexual Assault Cases Civil vs Criminal

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Attorney Brittany Partridge is here to inform sexual assault victims how to bring their claim. Hear what she has to say.

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► Hi, my name is Brittany Partridge and I’m one of the attorneys here at Butler Kahn Law Firm. We often get calls from victims of sexual assault, and a lot of times they have questions about how to bring their claim, if they can bring their claim, when they can bring in their claim. So today I want to talk to you about a few of those differences.
► So first, if you’re the victim of a sexual assault, do you get to bring a civil claim? Well, the answer is yes. In a civil case, the victim is going to be the person that actually brings a claim in a lawsuit. On the other hand, in a criminal case, it’s going to be up to the prosecutor of the county whether or not a claim is brought. So as a victim, you can request that a criminal case be brought, but ultimately it’s not going to be the victim’s decision as to whether or not a criminal case is prosecuted.
► So who’s the plaintiff in a civil case? Well, it’s going to be the victim so long as they’re 18 years of age or older. If the victim’s under the age of 18, it’s going to be the victim’s parents or another person who will have financial responsibility of any funds that are awarded. In a civil case, the plaintiff or the prosecutor that you sometimes hear is always going to be the State of Georgia. So, it’s going to be the state of Georgia versus the perpetrator.
► Which leads us to our next point, who’s the defendant? In a civil case, the defendant can be multiple people. It doesn’t just have to be the perpetrator. If you’re assaulted at work, it can be a workplace. If you’re assaulted at a hotel, it could be the hotel owners, it could be the management company. Or if you’re assaulted at an apartment complex, it could be the apartment complex or their management company.
► You can also sue the perpetrator. In a criminal case, the defendant is always going to be the perpetrator or the assailant. So the person who actually sexually assaulted you. Where is the claim brought? Well, in a civil case, it’s going to depend on who the defendant is or who the defendants are, because you can’t have more than one defendant. In a civil case, you have to bring a claim where the defendant resides. So for example, if you were assaulted at work, it could be where your work is or where your work’s main office is. It can also be where the perpetrator lives.
► In a criminal case, the case will always be brought in the county where the sexual assault occurred. So if you were sexually assaulted in Gwinnett County, it’s going to be the prosecution bringing a claim against the defendant in Gwinnett County. What is the outcome of a civil or criminal sexual assault case? So when you bring a claim as the victim or as the victim’s parents, the ultimate goal is to get an award of monetary damages because unfortunately, the only thing that our justice system allows is money to try to compensate you for the harm that was done. So in a civil case, you’re going to receive an award of damages.
► On the other hand, in a criminal case, the outcome is usually going to be prison time or fees or fines, or even probation. There is usually not an award of money, but that leads us again, to the next point. Can a victim receive compensation? In a civil case, the victim can receive compensation. That’s why you’re bringing a claim, that’s why you’re suing. On the other hand, in a criminal case, it’s going to be sometimes. In criminal cases, there is a term called restitution. And restitution is basically repayment of things that were lost or broken during the commission of a crime. So there is a chance for a small amount of money to be awarded in restitution in a criminal case.

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