Understanding Sexual Assault
In the past few years, the subject of sexual assault has become more common, as allegations against big names have taken over news headlines. Still, many victims fail to report acts of sexual assault. For many, this is because of fear and uncertainty of how things will turn out. Others may not even be aware that what happened to them is considered sexual assault. It is important to learn the legal side of sexual assault.
What is Sexual Assault?
The United Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit of the recipient.” Essentially, sexual assault is the act of forcing, coercing or tricking a person into unwanted sexual acts or behavior. Sexual activities that fall under the definition of sexual assault include fondling, attempted rape, rape, forcible sodomy, child molestation and incest. The definition is broad and can vary by state, so it is important to speak with a sexual assault lawyer in your area.
What is Considered Rape?
There are common misconceptions regarding the true definition of rape. Rape is a form of sexual assault that involves the forced, coerced or unconsented penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus. Rape does not just include penile penetration of the vagina. Rather, it applies to various objects used to sexually penetrate any of these body regions belonging to any gender. In addition, the perpetrator does not have to be a stranger of the victim. In fact, the perpetrators in many rape cases was an acquaintance, friend, partner or even spouse of the victim.
What is Considered Consent?
Most sexual assault cases are undermined by the confusion of “consent.” Consent is defined as clear, unambiguous language signifying a voluntary agreement to engage in certain sexual activity or behavior. The absence of consent by each party involved in the sexual behavior or action makes any sexual act on that person sexual assault. There should be a clear “yes” to be considered consent. Guilting or coercing someone into a sexual act in any way does not a classify as consent.
How Can Sexual Assault be Proven?
A sexual assault victim can come forward and file a report with the police. In order for the defendant to be tried as guilty, there must be proof of the case beyond reasonable doubt. Sometimes proof may include DNA evidence, witness testimony or even pictures or messages from the defendant. Without strong evidence, sexual assault can be difficult to prove, because it often comes down to the victim’s word against the defendant’s.
Hiring a Lawyer
If you are the victim of sexual assault, a sexual crime lawyer San Mateo, CA offers can review your situation and help you build a strong case. In addition to bringing criminal charges, you may also file a civil suit. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for damages sustained in the assault, such as for medical bills and emotional distress.
If you have been accused of sexual assault, it is vital to hire an experienced sexual assault lawyer. Because of the complexities of a sexual assault case, there are often many defenses available to someone being charged. A lawyer can help build a strong defense and ensure your legal rights are protected throughout the case.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal defense cases and understanding sexual assault charges.