Sexual assault and abuse are criminal offenses in the state of Maryland, and offenders may be prosecuted for their actions in a criminal court setting. Maryland tort law also allows victims who have been assaulted or sexually abused to take legal action in the form of a civil lawsuit. We understand just how difficult this step can be, though, and we don’t think you should have to go through it on your own.
A Baltimore sexual assault lawyer from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC is prepared to be a tireless advocate on your behalf. You didn’t deserve what happened to you, and in all that we do, we will strive to be a consistent and reliable presence through your healing process and the filing of your civil claim.
What To Do After a Sexual Assault
Sexual violence in any form will affect every victim differently. However, many individuals who have been the target of a sexual assault go on to suffer emotional trauma and physical injuries associated with their attack, leaving them feeling vulnerable and unsure of what to do next.
Our sexual assault attorneys respect the actions and decisions of every victim, and we understand that the trauma associated with sexual violence often influences what individuals decide to do. Regardless of what actions you chose to take in the aftermath of sexual misconduct, Belsky & Horowitz, LLC is here for you.
However, if you are in search of information about what to do after an unwanted sexual act, we recommend considering the following steps:
- Contact a local crisis center or call the National Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-656-4673
- Seek emergency medical attention at a hospital that can provide a forensic examination
- Confide in a trusted friend or loved one for support
- Report the sexual offense to the police
- Contact a sexual assault attorney
We understand that a deep distrust of police and the criminal justice system runs through many communities here in Baltimore, MD. This distrust can create a barrier that makes it difficult (if not impossible) to report that you were sexually assaulted. Failing to immediately report what happened to the police does not disqualify you from filing a civil lawsuit in the civil court system, though.
Our sex abuse lawyers will investigate the circumstances surrounding the sexual crimes you suffered. Even if you didn’t file a police report or seek immediate medical attention, we can serve as reliable guides through this legal process.
Maryland Law Regarding Sexual Assault
Maryland state law regarding sexual assault differentiates between rape and sexual offenses. Although discussing the details of a sexual assault can be difficult for many victims, this step is often a necessary part of bringing action in both a civil lawsuit as well as the criminal justice system.
- Rape is broken down into first and second degree rape charges, addressing things like unwanted vaginal intercourse, the use of a dangerous weapon, the use of physical force, and inflicting of serious injury.
- Sexual assault can be a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree sexual offense. Sexual assault encompasses sexual intercourse aside from vaginal intercourse, oral sex, unwanted touching, and other acts of a sexual nature.
Perpetrators of the above offenses can be held responsible for their actions in a criminal case. Criminal cases may result in jail time and fines, and the guilty party might also be ordered to register on Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. While many victims are pleased to see their attacker face justice for their crimes, convictions for criminal charges typically do not compensate victims for the harm they’ve suffered.
Maryland law also permits a victim of sexual assault to bring a civil suit against their attacker. This type of civil action is intended to recover compensation for a serious physical injury, emotional trauma, and more.
One of the sexual abuse attorneys from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC can sit down with you in a confidential setting to discuss what compensation you may be entitled to.
Sexual Abuse Victims in Baltimore Deserve Justice
Perpetrators of violence of a sexual nature should be held responsible for their actions under Maryland state law. Criminal charges for a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree sexual offense is one way that an offender may face consequences for their actions.
However, this is not always enough to fully address the damages a victim of sexual assault suffered. As Baltimore sexual assault lawyers, we strongly believe that victims of sexual harassment and other unwanted sexual acts should be fully and fairly compensated for everything they have gone through.
Legal Action Available to Sexual Assault Victims
As discussed above, offenders who have committed sexual abuse and assault may face consequences in both the civil and criminal justice system. Unlike criminal charges, which are prosecuted by the state, civil sexual assault cases are brought by victims. This type of action allows victims of sexual assaults to seek compensation within the legal system. Much like a personal injury case, a civil suit for sexual assault holds an at-fault party responsible for a wide range of damages related to the offense.
The burden of proof is also significantly lower in a civil claim compared to a criminal case. For criminal charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime took place. A civil claim only requires a preponderance of evidence.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we admire the bravery of every victim that chooses to come forward by taking civil action. We understand that this is a deeply personal decision, and our sexual assault lawyers do everything in their power to build a strong attorney-client relationship that respects the dignity of every client they work with.
Should you choose to seek monetary compensation for an act of attempted rape, sexual battery, or unwanted sexual touching, our attorneys will provide unrivaled guidance and support throughout the process. We will help you build a strong case that clearly shows how the perpetrator harmed you and the impact it had on your life.
Compensation for Victims of Sexual Assault
The compensation to which you are entitled is not necessarily contingent upon a related criminal charge, such as first degree or second degree rape, or third degree sexual assault. Instead, the focus of these types of cases is the impact on a victim’s life and their right to seek compensation. Much like in a personal injury case, sexual assault victims are typically entitled to compensation for the following types of damages.
Economic damages encompass the financial losses a person has suffered as the result of experiencing sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, an unwanted sexual act, or more. A practiced sexual abuse lawyer will understand how sensitive this matter can be and will work alongside you to determine what your tangible financial losses are. Although every case is different, these financial losses often include:
- Medical expenses, including bills for therapy
- Bills from sexual assault service providers
- Lost wages if you were unable to go to work
- Legal fees
The sexual abuse attorneys at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC will carefully review your case and related financial losses when determining how much you might be owed for economic damages. Be sure to keep all of your bills for medical expenses, paystubs, and other relevant documents in a safe place and bring them with you when we meet for our free consultation.
Non-economic damages are less tangible in the sense that they do not include losses that have a specific dollar amount. Instead, compensation for non-economic damages seeks to address the other ways in which sexual violence affects a victim. Whether you were harmed in a first, second, third, or fourth degree sexual offense, the impact can last a lifetime.
We understand that breaking down an act of sexual violence into a dollar amount can be uncomfortable, and some victims may even feel as if this approach minimizes what they went through. However, this is never our goal.
As staunch advocates of those who have been harmed by sexual abuse, we want to be sure that you are fully and fairly compensated for what you went through. This means holding the person performing undesired sexual contact financially liable for the harm they caused.
Compensation for non-economic damages in a sexual violence case may include:
- Pain and suffering from a physical injury
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
During your confidential consultation, we’ll discuss what economic and non-economic compensation you might be entitled to.
Punitive damages are awarded in a small number of civil cases and are not intended to compensate victims for any specific losses they have suffered. Instead, these damages are awarded when a defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious. There is no cap on this type of compensation in Maryland, which gives judges and juries broad discretion to assign a value that they believe would be effective at deterring the same behavior in the future.
The perpetrator of the sexual assault does not need to face charges in a criminal case to be required to pay punitive damages.
How Does a Sexual Assault Lawyer Help?
The role of a sexual assault lawyer in Baltimore, MD should always be that of a tireless advocate. However, it is also important that a sexual abuse lawyer carefully balances the pace at which a victim is comfortable with the timeline created by the statute of limitations.
Maryland state law allows only three years to file a civil lawsuit for a sexual offense if the victim was an adult at the time of the attack. Those who were minors when their sexual abuse took place have seven years from the date of their eighteenth birthday.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we strive to be a reliable and compassionate support system to victims of sexual assault. When you choose to work with our law firm, you can expect that our attorneys will:
- Investigate your claim and determine whether there are any liable third parties who might also be held responsible for a sexual assault, such as a hotel that had negligent security.
- Determine whether the perpetrator ever sought your consent and, if they did, whether they ignored you when you said “no” or otherwise indicated that you were not consenting.
- Work closely with experts who can help substantiate your claim that you were sexually assaulted and the impact it has had on your life.
- Value the worth of your claim, including medical bills, lost wages, and more to ensure that you receive maximum financial compensation.
- Work within the confines of federal and state laws to create the strongest possible sexual assault case.
Perpetrators of sexual offenses can (and should) be held responsible for the harm they’ve caused. Our firm is a powerful advocate for anyone who has suffered because of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or any form of unwanted sexual contact.
What if I Knew My Attacker?
Statistics from RAINN show that fewer than 20% of perpetrators of sexual assault are strangers to the victim. Only 6% of sexual offenses involve a person that the victim is unable to remember or recall. The remainder of cases, including first degree and second degree rapes, are committed by:
- An acquaintance – 39%
- A former or current spouse, partner, or significant other – 33%
- A relative – 2.5%
In our experience representing Baltimore sexual assault victims, we understand how difficult it can be to seek justice when you know the perpetrator. As a victim of sexual assault, you might be experiencing shame or even guilt about what happened. Unfortunately, some families even actively discourage victims from reporting perpetrators.
We know how difficult and traumatizing this entire experience can be. You may feel alone and isolated, without any hope of ever seeing your attacker face consequences for what they did. The Baltimore sexual assault lawyers of Belsky & Horowitz, LLC want you to know that there is hope.
Contact our law office today to speak with one of our attorneys in a confidential setting.
Violence From an Intimate Partner
Sexual violence from an intimate partner can be especially confusing and difficult to prove. If you have an established sexual relationship with a spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, or close friend, they may claim that the act you are accusing them of committing was consensual and wanted. A fear of not being believed or being labeled a liar prevents some victims of intimate partner violence from ever coming forward.
At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we believe victims. Having a sexual relationship with someone does not create a continuous understanding of consent. Consent must be obtained before every sexual encounter and may be revoked at any time, at which point sexual contact must stop.
Perpetrators of intimate partner violence often rely on the narrative of consent, and even highlight past sexual encounters in which consent was given freely. Our Baltimore sexual assault lawyers know that this is a common tactic and are prepared to counter these and similar claims. Just because you gave consent once or even a hundred times in the past does not mean that you gave consent for a specific sexual act.
We are ready to listen to your story. Schedule a free consultation with our law firm today to meet with a caring and compassionate lawyer.
Belsky & Horowitz, LLC Is a Powerful Advocate
Every victim’s experience with sexual assault is different, and we understand the need for a sensitive and understanding approach to this type of case. As much as possible, we strive to move at the pace a victim is comfortable with while also working within the confines of Maryland’s statute of limitations.
If you were the victim of a sexual assault in the Baltimore, MD area, we are here for you. We know that you did not deserve what happened to you, and our attorneys will do everything within their power to build a strong case and collect compensation on your behalf.
Legal fees should never be a barrier that prevents victims from seeking compensation, which is why we take most cases on a contingency fee basis. This allows a Baltimore sexual assault lawyer from our law firm to begin working on your case without requiring any upfront payment. Instead, we only take payment as a small percentage of your total award. This approach creates a shared goal between both our attorneys and clients and allows us to provide our services to those who might otherwise be unable to afford legal guidance.
If you are ready to speak with someone about your sexual assault case, contact us at our Baltimore, MD office to schedule your free, confidential consultation. You can reach us by phone or by filling out our convenient online form.