The Importance of Civil Litigation When Fighting for Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence



Criminal and civil law are both important when it comes to fighting for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many times, abusers are only prosecuted criminally if there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed a crime. This standard is much higher than the standard used in civil cases.

Often, there is not enough evidence to meet this high criminal standard, but there may still be enough evidence to prove the abuser liable in a civil case. Fighter Law’s team of board-certified attorneys can help you with any legal questions you may have if you have been accused of or were the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

What Is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Liability?

The biggest difference between civil and criminal cases is the standard of proof. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime. This is a very high standard, and it often requires direct evidence, such as an eyewitness to the crime.

In a civil case, however, the plaintiff only needs to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable. This standard, known as the “preponderance of the evidence,” is much lower than the criminal standard, and it can be met with circumstantial evidence.

For example, if there are no eyewitnesses to an abuse incident, a civil plaintiff may be able to prove that the defendant is liable by introducing evidence of the defendant’s past abusive behavior, or by presenting testimony from expert witnesses who can testify about the typical patterns of abusers.

However, it is important to note that winning a civil lawsuit is not the same as getting a criminal conviction. In a civil case, the victim can only receive monetary damages, whereas in a criminal case, the abuser can be sentenced to jail or prison.

Why Is Civil Litigation Important for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault?

One of the biggest reasons why civil litigation is important for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence is that it allows victims to obtain protection from their abusers, even when there is not enough evidence to prosecute the abuser criminally.

In Florida, victims of domestic violence can obtain a civil protective order, also known as a restraining order. A restraining order is a court order that requires the abuser to stay away from the victim and refrain from certain types of contact, such as phone calls, emails, or text messages.

In some cases, a restraining order may also require the alleged abuser to surrender any firearms that they own. Restraining orders can provide crucial protection for victims, and they can be obtained even when there is not enough evidence to prosecute the abuser criminally.

Another reason why civil litigation is important for victims is that it can help hold abusers accountable for their actions, even if they are not convicted of a crime. In a criminal case, the only thing that a defendant can be punished for is the crime that he or she is actually convicted of.

Can Victims Sue an Abuser for Damages?

Regardless of whether the abuser was convicted of a criminal offense, victims have the right to restitution or civil litigation for damages. In many cases, victims are able to sue their abusers for assault, battery, or both. If the victim wins the case, the abuser will be ordered to pay damages to the victim. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Additionally, victims of domestic violence may be able to sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress. To win this type of claim, the victim must prove that the abuser’s actions were so extreme that they caused severe emotional distress.

However, successfully arguing for these damages is one of the most difficult things to do in a civil domestic violence or sexual assault case. That is because quantifying a monetary value for non-monetary damages is much more difficult than it is for monetary damages.

In order to qualify for non-monetary damages, the victim will need to present evidence of the effect that the alleged crimes had on his or her life. This may include testimony from friends and family members, as well as experts who can speak to the long-term effects of domestic violence.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Domestic Violence Civil Lawsuit in Florida?

The statute of limitations is the time limit that a victim has to file a domestic violence civil lawsuit. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a domestic violence civil lawsuit is four years from the date of the last act of domestic violence.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the victim was under the age of 18 when the domestic violence occurred, they will have until four years after turning 18 to file a lawsuit. Additionally, if the victim was suffering from a mental illness or disability at the time of the domestic violence, the statute of limitations may be extended.

The best thing to do is to contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to review your case and determine whether or not you are still eligible to file a civil lawsuit against your abuser. If the limitations have already expired, an attorney may still be able to help you by filing a petition with the court to have the limitations extended.

Contact a Florida Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

Suing an abuser can be a complicated and emotional process, but it is important to know that victims have legal options and rights. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, we encourage you to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

You don’t have to fight alone. At Fighter Law, our experienced domestic violence attorneys are here to help guide you through every step of the legal process. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call us at (407) 344-4837 or contact us online today.

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