Houston Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you were a victim of sexual abuse, you’re probably already aware that reporting your case may result in a criminal investigation, which might then be followed by criminal charges. However, did you know that you are also able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your abuser? By filing a claim through a civil court rather than a criminal court, you may receive compensation for the harm inflicted upon you. Our sexual abuse attorneys at Reich & Binstock will fight for you to obtain the compensation you deserve to work towards your recovery.

According to the American Psychological Association, sexual abuse is defined as unwanted sexual activity through force, threats, or by taking advantage of victims without consent. Any action that pressures or coerces another individual to engage in activity they don’t want to is sexual abuse. Both men and women can be either the victim or the perpetrator. 

Sexual abuse doesn’t always entail a random person or violent attack. In most cases, the perpetrator and the victim know each other. It could be anyone from a clergy member, a trusted friend, or a person of high authority. Recently, we’ve seen sexual abuse allegations surge in organizations such as Boy Scouts of America. Sexual abuse can even occur between people who have been sexual partners before, including married or dating couples. 

Some examples of sexual abuse include but are not limited to the following:

  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual actions
  • Threatening or pressuring someone to perform or receive sexual activity
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Restricting someone’s access to birth control, including the refusal to wear a condom
  • Sexual contact or activity with someone who is unable to give clear and informed consent (i.e., someone who is drunk, drugged, or unconscious)

When it comes to finding a lawyer for a sexual abuse case, you’ll want to seek someone who is skilled in the area of civil tort law. A tort is an act that causes economic or emotional harm to a person and in which the party at fault possesses legal liability.

Several personal injury lawyers, including Reich & Binstock, are qualified to handle sexual abuse cases. This is because as personal injury lawyers, they cover civil torts of all types that result in injuries and economic harm. Sexual abuse certainly falls into this category, as it is one of the most harmful and traumatic things a person can experience. Often, emotional scars last far longer than any physical injuries, which is why pain and suffering is such a contributing factor to the case. 

The aftereffect of sexual abuse can be long-term, often resulting in anxiety, depression, deflated self-image, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, the ability to report doesn’t last nearly as long as the aftermath of abuse. In Texas, there is a different statute of limitations for criminal cases than for civil cases.

The criminal statute of limitations for rape and other sexual abuse offenses in Texas that involve a victim aged 18 or older is 10 years. This means victims have 10 years from the day the offense took place to file a criminal lawsuit in court. For sexual crimes that involve a victim under the age of 18, the criminal statute of limitations is 20 years from the date of their 18th birthday. 

The civil statute of limitations for a victim aged 18 or older is 5 years after the day the sexual offense took place. For victims below the age of 18, the civil court allows 10-20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, depending on the offense. 

There are some exceptions when it comes to the time limits allotted to report sexual abuse. The state of Texas does not have a criminal statute of limitations for rape or aggravated assault cases where a suspect has not yet been identified. In addition, there is no statute for cases that involve a serial rapist. 

Sexual Abuse: Criminal Case VS. Civil Case

Sexual abuse can fall into two different types of categories within the justice system: criminal and civil. In a criminal case, the focus lies on the abuser. It is a case brought against the abuser by the state or federal government as a way to protect society as a whole and punish the perpetrator. Because the focus is more on protecting society and not on advocating for the victim, a criminal case may be a poor option for the survivor in receiving restitution or financial compensation. 

In a civil case, the focus is pointed toward the survivor and helping them through their traumatic experience. Unfortunately, there is no jail time for the abuser available in a civil case. These cases are handled by civil attorneys, as opposed to prosecuting attorneys. The victim is able to seek compensation for the damages that resulted from the sexual abuse they experienced. This includes mental anguish and emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost income or earning capacity, and medical expenses.

The standard of proof that is needed for a criminal case is much higher than that of a civil case. The jury must be sure “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused is guilty. Unfortunately, many abusers are able to escape liability because of the doubt of proof. The civil justice system is much more relaxed when it comes to the standard of proof. The jury simply must believe the survivor’s case to be more likely true than not. 

Though a criminal conviction can be extremely powerful evidence, a civil case does not rely on a guilty verdict in a criminal court to be successful. So if your abuser was not found guilty in a criminal case, that doesn’t mean he or she will also be innocent in a civil trial.

Contact a Houston Sexual Abuse Attorney at Reich and Binstock Today

If you or a loved one has suffered from sexual abuse, contact one of our Houston attorneys at Reich & Binstock for a free consultation to determine whether damages may be recoverable for you. You can use our online contact form or call us at 713-622-7271 or 800-622-7271 toll free.

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