Abuse and Sexual Assault
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we stand firmly alongside survivors of rape and their families in Northern California. Our sexual abuse lawyers understand that moving forward after such a traumatic experience can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why we offer compassionate and private legal counsel that addresses your concerns, needs, and legal rights. We know that reliving such a traumatic event is painful, but with our legal team on your side, you can hold your rapist accountable for the harm you’ve suffered.
Survivors of sexual abuse possess incredible strength and resilience, and it's our mission to echo these qualities in our legal support. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we believe in creating a space where your voice is heard and your rights are fiercely protected. We are committed to walking with you every step of the way, providing the legal guidance and emotional support needed to seek justice and begin the healing process.Understanding Rape in California
Rape is a profoundly serious crime in California and defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished through force, threats, fraud, or when someone is incapacitated and unable to give consent. This definition encompasses a range of circumstances, recognizing that every survivor's experience is unique and deeply personal.
Fundamentally, rape is a form of sexual assault, often used as a means to exert power and control by the attacker over the survivor. It represents a deliberate violation, not just a physical act but an abuse of trust and safety.
Rape happens between spouses, intimate partners, acquaintances, friends, and even strangers. It can occur because the survivor was incapacitated – possibly due to being drugged or disabled – or because they were subjected to threats, coercion, or even trafficking. It's a harsh reality that rape can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or age, affecting women, men, and children alike.
Most crucially, it must be understood and emphatically stated: if you have been a victim of rape, it is not your fault.
No circumstance, action, or choice justifies this violation. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we stand with survivors, affirming your right to be heard and supported and to seek justice on your own terms.How Common is Rape in California?
Nearly 15,000 rapes occur in California each year, causing immense trauma to victims and families. Sadly, the majority of those rapes occur in Northern and Eastern California, with Inyo, Del Norte, Modoc, Tuolumne, and Shasta being the worst cities.
Sadly, across the United States, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds. While rape does occur to men, 90% of all rape survivors are female, highlighting the harrowing reality many women face. According to Rainn, one out of every six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
These numbers, however, only tell part of the story. Behind every statistic is a person with their own experiences, struggles, and journey towards healing.The Challenges Rape Survivors Face
It's important to remember that each survivor's response to trauma is different, and there is no 'right' way to feel or heal after such an experience.
Survivors often face numerous challenges in the aftermath of rape. The emotional toll can be overwhelming, encompassing feelings of fear, anger, confusion, and isolation. Many struggle with whether to report the incident, weighed down by concerns about privacy, being believed, and the potential repercussions of coming forward. Additionally, navigating the legal system can be daunting, especially when understanding complex laws and processes.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we recognize these challenges and are dedicated to providing support that respects each survivor's individual journey. Our approach is to listen without judgment, offer clear and straightforward legal advice, and empower survivors to make informed decisions about their paths forward. We strive to create a safe and supportive environment where survivors feel valued, understood, and confident in their pursuit of justice and healing.Steps Rape Survivors Can Take To Seek Justice
Going through the legal steps after experiencing rape can be complex and emotionally challenging. However, this process is crucial for California survivors seeking justice.Step One: Report the Rape
The first step is often to report the rape to law enforcement. This can be done directly at a police station, through a call, or in a medical facility if the survivor seeks medical attention. It's important to know that while timely reporting can aid in the collection of evidence, there is no time limit on reporting rape in California.Step Two: Medical Examination
Following the report, a medical examination is usually recommended. This is conducted by a trained professional who collects evidence (a rape kit) while ensuring the survivor’s health and well-being. California law entitles survivors to a forensic medical examination free of charge, regardless of whether they choose to involve the police.Step Three: Seeking Protection
As a rape survivor, your focus should be on protecting yourself from your attacker. A restraining order typically prohibits your rapist from making any form of contact with you. This includes physical proximity and communication through phone calls, emails, texts, or third parties. Depending on the situation, the order can also impose other restrictions on the accused, such as staying away from the survivor's home, place of work, or other specified locations.
It's important to note that restraining orders can be sought regardless of whether a criminal case is being pursued. They are a civil court matter and do not require a criminal conviction or a criminal charge against the accused.Step Four: Assisting In the Criminal Process
Law enforcement then investigates the case, which may involve interviewing the survivor, the accused, and potential witnesses. They also collect physical evidence, including results from the rape kit.
Based on the investigation, the district attorney’s office decides whether sufficient evidence exists to file criminal charges against the accused. This decision is made considering various factors, including the available evidence and the survivor's wishes, although the final decision rests with the prosecutor.
If charges are filed, the case moves to court. This process includes several stages, such as arraignment, pre-trial hearings, possibly a trial, and sentencing if the accused is found guilty.Step Five: Contacting a Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawyer
While the criminal case is progressing, or even if it doesn't move forward, survivors have the option to pursue a separate path by contacting a sexual abuse and assault lawyer to file a civil claim. There is a difference between a criminal case and a civil claim, and each is crucial for survivors seeking justice.
If a survivor decides to pursue a civil claim, contacting a sexual abuse and assault lawyer is a significant first step. At Cerri, Boskovich, & Allard, L.L.P., we will gather evidence, which may include medical records, psychological evaluations, and witness statements, to build a strong civil case against your rapist.Can I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit If My Rapist Isn’t Convicted?
Yes! You can file a sexual abuse lawsuit or civil claim against your rapist even if they’re never convicted. The United States legal system comprises criminal and civil courts, which operate independently with different objectives and standards of proof.
Criminal cases are intended to punish the rapist and protect the public. However, civil lawsuits focus on the survivors and on compensating them for the abuse they suffered. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
A criminal conviction can bring a sense of justice and closure. However, it doesn't necessarily address the personal losses and trauma experienced by the survivor. A civil claim allows for financial restitution, aiding the healing process and recovery journey.
It is also easier to win a civil lawsuit than it is to win a criminal case because the burdens of proof are different. Therefore, even if your rapist is found “not guilty” in criminal court, you can still win your civil lawsuit.What Are My Rights as a Rape Survivor? The Right To Be Treated With Respect
Survivors have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect throughout the legal process. This includes all interactions with law enforcement, attorneys, court personnel, and any other individuals involved in the case.The Right To Have a Support Person Present
Survivors have the right to have a support person of their choice present during interviews, medical examinations, and court proceedings. This support person can be a friend, family member, advocate, or counselor, providing emotional support and advocacy.The Right to Privacy
Survivors are entitled to privacy regarding their personal information. Legal provisions keep all survivors’ personal information, such as their identity, address, and incident details, confidential. Judges can issue orders during court proceedings to protect survivors’ identity and privacy. This might include using pseudonyms, clearing the courtroom during sensitive testimony, or restricting what can be asked during cross-examination.Right to Protection from Intimidation and Harm
Survivors have the right to be protected from intimidation, harassment, and any potential harm from the accused or others. This includes measures such as restraining orders and ensuring safety during court appearances.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we assist survivors at every step of this process. Our role includes providing legal advice, helping to navigate the criminal justice system, advocating for survivors’ rights, and offering support during an emotionally difficult time. We're committed to ensuring survivors are informed, respected, and heard throughout this journey.Resources for Survivors and Families
Survivors of sexual abuse and their families have access to a variety of resources in California and nationally, offering support, counseling, and legal assistance. These resources are designed to provide the necessary help and guidance during recovery and healing.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we encourage survivors and their families to explore these resources as part of their journey toward healing. Our team is also available to guide and assist in connecting with these services, ensuring survivors and their families receive the comprehensive support they need.Rape FAQs: Addressing Common Survivor Concerns
In our work with survivors, we often encounter many common questions and concerns. Here are some of these:
Is it too late to report my experience?
It's never too late to report a sexual assault or abuse. While California has specific laws regarding the statute of limitations, how long you have to report your rape is based on many different factors. We encourage you to speak with us, regardless of when the incident occurred, to explore your options.
Will I have to face my abuser in court?
Facing an abuser in court can be a daunting prospect. However, whether this happens depends on the specifics of your case. Legal protections are also in place to help reduce the stress of such encounters. We're here to support and prepare you for every possibility.
Can I seek justice if the abuser is a powerful or influential person?
Yes, you can. The law applies equally to everyone, regardless of their status or position. Our legal system and our law firm are committed to holding all perpetrators accountable and providing survivors with the justice they deserve. We’ve gone up against many powerful people and institutions and won. You have a right to see justice - no matter who your rapist is.
What if I’m not sure I want to pursue a legal case?
It's completely normal to feel uncertain about pursuing legal action. While pursuing a legal case after experiencing rape is a deeply personal decision, survivors owe it to themselves to fully understand all their legal options. Gaining knowledge about these options doesn't commit you to any course of action, but it empowers you with information to make an informed decision about what's best for you.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we're here to provide this crucial information in a supportive, pressure-free environment, ensuring that you can explore your rights and possibilities at your own pace.Taking the Next Steps: Call Our Sexual Abuse Law Firm
Taking the first step towards legal action as a survivor of sexual abuse can feel daunting, but know that you are not alone in this journey. The Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P. legal team is here to guide and support you every step of the way. The initial step is to reach out and schedule a confidential consultation with us. This meeting is an opportunity for you to share your story, ask questions, and understand your legal options, all within a safe and non-judgmental space.
We ensure the utmost confidentiality in every interaction, respecting your privacy and the sensitivity of your situation. During our first conversation, we'll listen to your experience, provide initial guidance, and discuss how we can assist you further. Remember, this consultation does not obligate you to take action; it's about empowering you with knowledge and support.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., our commitment is to stand with you, offer strength in your pursuit of justice, and ensure your voice is heard and respected throughout this process.