College Sexual Assault Attorney

According to the CDC, around 1 in 5 women experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their college years. This is a pervasive problem and it’s not limited to women. Studies also show that 6.8% of men have experienced rape or sexual assault during their time in undergrad. If you or someone you know have experienced a sexual assault at university, there are options available to you for legal recourse. A college sexual assault attorney can help you hold the perpetrator accountable.

What Counts as Sexual Assault?

In the California Penal Code, sexual assault is defined as the touching of another person’s intimate parts (sexual organ, anus, groin, buttocks, or breast) against that person’s will for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. Rape is defined as a non-consensual act of penetrative intercourse, including sex by force, violence, duress, threats to retaliate, and threats of retaliation using the perpetrator’s public authority. It also includes clauses for people who are intoxicated, unconscious, or mentally or physically disabled.
If, for example, you went to a college party and drank alcohol, but were then sexually assaulted by someone when you were too drunk to consent, that is illegal and you can press charges. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is also a crime under California law. So if, for example, a professor threatens to fail you if you do not perform certain sexual acts, a college sexual assault attorney will tell you that is grounds for a legal case whether you perform the acts or not. California also made revenge porn a crime under Penal Code 647(j)(4). So if a classmate were to put intimate pictures or videos of you online without your consent, you can sue them for damages.
There are many different scenarios related to sexual assault, harassment, and rape, and they each have different legal penalties. If you think you may have been sexually assaulted, contact a college sexual assault attorney to discuss your options. A professional with deep knowledge of this area of the law can help explain what legal recourse is available to you and fight for your interests if you choose to pursue a case.

What Options Do I Have If I’ve Been Sexually Assaulted at College?

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault at college, you have every right to report the incident to your school as well as to the police. Your school should take actions to protect you on campus and launch an investigation into the situation. It cannot legally discourage you or threaten you from discussing complaints of sexual violence and must protect you from retaliation if other parties attempt to harass you for your complaints. A college sexual assault attorney can help ensure your school abides by Title IX.
In addition to reporting the assault to your school, you can also report it to the police. In doing so, law enforcement will simultaneously launch an investigation, separate from your school’s investigation, to collect evidence. If they believe they have enough to charge the perpetrator, they will arrest them and charge them with a crime under California law. The crime they are charged with and whether they are charged at all is up to the police, not you. If the case goes to court, you may be called to testify as a witness, but you will not be the plaintiff, which is the party that brings the legal action. In criminal cases, the plaintiff is always the state. A criminal case can result in fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 8 years if the defendant is convicted.
Fortunately, relying on the police and prosecutor to hold your perpetrator accountable is not your only legal option. An experienced college sexual assault attorney can help you sue the person who assaulted you for damages in a civil suit. These damages can include medical costs, therapy, wages lost if unable to work due to the incident, pain suffering, mental anguish, and distress. You can also seek punitive damages, which are costs meant to serve as a punishment for the crime committed and have no specific limit.
A college sexual assault attorney will help you determine what is possible for your case and work with you to hold the perpetrator accountable. In civil cases like this, you can typically receive a much larger amount of compensation than you will in criminal cases, but they will not result in jail time. It’s also important to note that you can have a school case, criminal case, and civil case all at once and that none of them have any bearing on the others. This means that even if your assaulter is found not guilty in a criminal proceeding, a college sexual assault attorney can still hold them accountable in a civil lawsuit where the burden of proof is lower.

A Secondary Case

In some instances, you may also be able to hold your university liable for the damages caused by the perpetrator. If a judge believes the college could have reasonably prevented the sexual assault in some way but did not, the university may be guilty of negligence. In cases like this, the victim could be entitled to compensation for damages related to the assault.
A university should comply with Title IX, keep dorm buildings secure, install adequate nighttime lighting around the campus, offer emergency call buttons, teach about sexual assault awareness, maintain reporting procedures, thoroughly screen and train their staff, and eliminate victim-blaming. If they failed to do so, a knowledgeable college sexual assault attorney may be able to help you hold them liable as well.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted on campus, contact our college sexual assault attorney at Hayes Law to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss the specifics of your case and advise you on the best steps to take to get the compensation you deserve. Dealing with something like sexual assault is extremely difficult and can seem scary, but we’re here to help walk you through it in a compassionate manner. We’ll fight for you every step of the way so that you can hold the perpetrator accountable for what they did.

Attorney Jillian F. Hayes

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