Skip to Content

Criminal vs. Civil Sex Abuse Cases

pillars at a courthouse

It’s vital that sexual predators be held accountable for their crimes. There are several ways this may happen: through a criminal indictment, a civil lawsuit, or both.

Below, our Los Angeles trial attorneys discuss the difference between criminal and civil sexual abuse cases.

How a Case Will Be Prosecuted

There are two different kinds of cases, civil and criminal. Criminal prosecution is controlled by the District Attorney after the police have performed an investigation. A civil lawsuit is brought by the survivor and the attorney he or she chooses to hire, and this case can be brought against the perpetrator and any other liable parties.

The other major differences between civil and criminal cases include:

  • Civil cases: These cases involve disputes between private parties. The main objective is to recover money to compensate the victim for damages.
  • Criminal cases: These cases involve actions considered to be harmful to society as a whole. If found guilty, the defendant will be convicted of criminal acts and may be sentenced to prison.

How Long Do You Have to File a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse?

Thanks to the recent #MeToo movement and widespread calls for sexual abuse reforms, California has implemented new legislation that allows survivors more time to file a civil sexual abuse claim.

Now, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims in California are as follows:

  • Childhood sexual abuse survivors must file a lawsuit by age 40, or within 5 years of discovering the abuse as an adult.
  • Starting in January 2020, survivors in California now have a three-year window to file sexual abuse claims that have previously passed the statute of limitations.
  • Courts are empowered to triple damage awards when sexual abuse happened alongside an attempted or successful cover-up.

Are You a Survivor of Sexual Abuse? Contact Us Today

There are few things as traumatic as experiencing sexual abuse. Additionally, since many instances of sexual abuse are committed at the hands of a close relative or friend, many survivors may not initially realize they have been abused.

California’s revision to the statute of limitations for sexual abuse allows these individuals more time to sort through their trauma and come forward. Our team is here to help you seek justice when the time is right for you.

Contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP today at (866) 634-4525 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our team.