Illinois is the eighth state to abolish time limits on prosecuting sex abuse cases. Sexual abuse victims endure devastating tragedy, especially if it occurred during infancy, but you can take culprits to court. Still, victims are left with trauma and lingering emotional difficulties and probably wondering if they need to file their claim within a certain amount of time. What remedy do they have for sexual abuse in Chicago?
In Chicago, sexual assault victims can take perpetrators to court to face civil charges or criminal charges. In either case, you should know the accuser is likely to have his or her attorney, so you should consider hiring a sexual abuse lawyer to help you get financial justice.
How the Statute of Limitations Works
In prior years, prosecuting attorneys were limited to 10 years to file charges if an offense was reported to law enforcement within three years after it occurred.
However, in July of last year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law, removing the time limit for prosecutors to bring charges for major sex offenses, notwithstanding the alleged victim’s age. The new law that removes the statute of limitations on aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, took effect Jan 1, 2020.
In 2017, Chicago eliminated the statute of limitations on significant sex offenses against anyone less than 18 years old. It occurred after an incident that former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert had abused several boys while working as a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in the 1960s and ’70s.
The new law will be an essential tool for making sure sexual assault victims can seek justice whenever that day comes.
Suppose your abuser is in the process of being tried in a criminal court or has already been tried. In that case, your abuse lawyer can help you decide whether to file for criminal charges or a civil suit. You may want to view this example.
Difference Between Criminal and Civil Court for Sexual Abuse
With the statute of limitations in mind, you can’t try someone for the same crime twice, so you must decide whether you are pursuing something criminally or civilly as the victim of the crime.
Criminal charges tend to punish the culprit, thus preventing further damage to you and the community. Even though the perpetrators may pay high fines to the criminal courts for their doings, you as the victim won’t receive any money for your recovery. A defendant in criminal court can only be ordered to pay and compensate the accuser’s financial costs.
In a nutshell, a criminal case focuses everything on the accused rather than your suffering.
Criminal sexual assault cases determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The defendant is presumed innocent until the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty.
The outcomes of a criminal charge can include incarceration or probation. Furthermore, once found guilty, it’s nearly impossible to prove during a civil case based on the same incidents that no damages occurred.
Here the accuser handles the case as represented by their attorney and has the right to decide the direction of the situation, such as damages requested.
In a civil sexual assault case, the accuser only needs to prove it is 51 percent or more likely that the defendant is the cause of the damage. With civil cases involving sexual assault, the accuser should not sue for “sexual assault,” but instead sue for charges such as assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or battery.
Once the sexual assault trial results in confirmation of the respondent’s liability, they have to pay the accuser and their family damages, including compensation for medical expenses, psychological damage, legal fees, damage to relationships, and so on.
Regardless of the outcome of a civil case, the defendant can still be criminally charged.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Sexual abuse cases are crimes that benefit the most from statutes of limitations because sometimes victims are frightened or ashamed to testify before it’s too late. If you are considering a civil or a criminal case against your abuser, have an experienced sexual abuse lawyer help you.