CRJS 205 Introduction to Criminal Law Martin Mackenzie, Lawyer Peter Smith, Head of Research January 13, Sexual AssaultRape or sexual assault is defined as physical, visual, or verbal abuse that forces an individual to consent to sexual attention or contact. The act can occur in various situations such as by a stranger in a secluded place, in the home by a familiar person or on a date. Most of the rape cases involve a male attacker and a female victim. Date or acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape. Studies show that more than 60 percent of the sexual assaults and rape cases the victim is familiar with the attacker. However, most of these cases go unreported if the victim knows the attacker (Gray, 2009). The client in this context is a victim of a sexual assault and she can sue the offender. However, the decisions (jail term and damages) that will be made by the jury in the criminal and civil courts will depend on the state’s statutory rape laws. When a client decides not sue the offender, the sex crime kit is usually kept for a certain period within which the victim can report to the law enforcement. In West Virginia, the sex crime kit or the evidence is stored for 18 months if the victim does not initiate an investigation. However, after 18 months the evidence is destroyed or used for research purposes or used for training. this is done after the removal of identifying information (West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services [WV-FRIS], 2008). It is important to note that evidence is required if the victim desires to sue the offender. If the client has evidence, she can sue the offender for sexual assault of the first degree if sexual intercourse and bodily harm were inflicted or sexual assault of the second degree is only sexual intercourse occurred. If found guilty of first-degree sexual assault, the offender can be imprisoned in the penitentiary between 15 and 35 years or imprisoned in the penitentiary between 15 and 35 years and fined between $1,000 and $10,000 (The Lectric Law Library, 2012). If found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, the offender can be jailed in the prison between 10 and 25 years or jailed in the prison between 10 and 25 years accompanied with a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 (The Lectric Law Library, 2012). In addition to criminal prosecution, the victim can file a civil suit with the help of a private attorney in a Civil Court. If the victim wins the civil lawsuit, the court orders the attacker to pay money for the damages caused (the damages include loss of income, suffering, pain, and medical expenses). Punitive damages are also available if the victim does not want compensation. in such a case, the victim aims at punishing the offender (The Lectric Law Library, 2012). The victim can sue the offender for sexual assault and there are potential damages such as punitive damages and compensatory damages. ReferencesGray, S. (2009). What is sexual assault? Retrieved from http://www.sexlaws.org/what_is_sexual_assaultThe Lectric Law Library. (2012). West Virginia sexual assault legal guide. Retrieved from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/sex11.htmWest Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services. (2008). Sexual assault in West Virginia: An informational handbook. Charleston, WV: Author.
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