Most of us spend our lives with very little contact with the legal system. We follow the law and outside of a traffic violation, we seldom encounter the police, courts, and certainly not jail. But, when someone sexually abuses a child, they are the target of the powers of the legal community.
When we watch a legal show on television, the police pick up the bad guy. Many people work to prove his guilt or innocence. He goes to court, and a jury of 12 people decide his fate. The judge then either sets him free or sends him to prison. But, what happens when someone is accused of sexual abuse? We explain below:
Criminal court is the part of our justice system which protects the public while punishing the criminal. If the system works correctly, the criminal will face prison time that removes them from society and sends a message that their actions are not acceptable.
After the prison sentence, he or she may face fines, probation, and he or she may be required to register as a sex offender which will make it impossible for them to work with or live among groups of children.
There is no punishment harsh enough to repair the damage to people and families that these criminals cause. The hope is to give them the power to repair their lives and move forward. But, just as their crimes costs more than physical and emotional damage, there are courts to address the financial issues.
Sometimes people use the civil court systems to get even further justice. In some cases, the families want the criminal to face the maximum penalties available. In other cases, they feel the need to make the person who caused the damage to pay for the damages they caused.
When a child is sexually abused, it is more than their life that is destroyed. Parents lose valuable time with their family. Their core values are broken. They may face a job loss or have to change careers in order to be with their child. There may be medical bills, therapy bills, and related expenses. Often times, the strain this puts on a family shatters it. It is human nature to look for someone to blame. Sometimes they blame each other.
When a family takes the criminal to court for monetary settlements, it goes to our civil court system. The civil court can give money, but they cannot give jail time. Even if a person is not found guilty in the criminal court, they can be found responsible in the civil court.
The civil court only needs your attorney to tilt the scales and show that they are more likely than not to have committed the crime. The criminal court needs proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are many famous cases that show this example. The O. J. Simpson case is an example. Mr. Simpson was not found guilty of murder in the criminal court. But, the family had more than enough evidence to find him liable in civil court, and that costs him millions of dollars.
If your child has been a victim of child sexual abuse, please contact a sex abuse of minors law firm in Coeur d’Alene to discuss your options.