We Represent Victims And Families In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that each year there are more than 200,000 victims of sexual assault in the United States. Underreporting of sexual assaults most likely means this statistic is much lower than reality.
Unfortunately, many sexual assault survivors do not know their rights, especially if they were assaulted by a person in a position of power such as an employer, teacher, priest, or doctor. The perpetrators may have legal support from the school, church, hospital, or workplace, leaving the victims feeling alone and powerless.
With representation from an experienced crime victim’s attorney, however, you can fight back. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., we help sexual abuse and rape survivors get justice and hold offenders accountable for their actions. We will explain your rights and help you stand up for them. When there are liable parties, we can file a civil suit against them for compensation to cover your past, present, and future losses.
Schedule a free consultation with our sexual abuse lawyers in Philadelphia, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Cherry Hill, New Jersey and New York. Please call 215-929-7216.
Compassionate Representation For Children And Adults
Children are at risk of child molestation and sexual abuse from adults whom they are supposed to be able to trust. We have represented children who have survived sexual abuse. For example, attorney Jeffrey Fritz represented some of the alleged sex crime victims in the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case. Mr. Fritz is a charter member and past president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, an affiliate of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
We can assist your family with cases involving:
- Clergy and the church
- Youth organizations
- Coaches and sports
- Teachers and schools
- Incest and foster care
- Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers
- Elders and nursing homes
- Family members, caregivers, and neighbors
Adults may also be assaulted by people in positions of power, as well as peers and other adults. Rape and other types of sexual assault can be committed by:
- Doctors and psychiatrists
- Nursing home staff or other caregivers
- Bosses and co-workers
- Dates and acquaintances
There are statutes of limitations for filing civil suits in child and adult sexual assault cases. We recommend speaking with an attorney as soon as possible to learn about the deadlines for filing your case.
Do Survivors Have Legal Rights?
As a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, you have several legal rights. You can be represented at the criminal hearing of the person who assaulted you. You can give a victim statement at the hearing if you so desire. You are also able to provide your input at post-sentencing hearings.
However, you will need a Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault lawyer to explain what rights and options you have and protect those rights. You will also have access to information about community resources and services to help you heal and recover from this traumatic experience. You will also be able to obtain a restraining order depending on your case.
None of this will take back what happened to you, but they can be critical steps in your recovery. If you have been assaulted or sexually abused, you have rights, and you need to focus on your recovery while we work to hold your abuser accountable.
FAQs for Philadelphia Sexual Abuse And Assault Lawyer
As disturbing as it might sound, only around 23 percent of rape and sexual assault survivors report such crimes to police. Sexual abuse and sexual assaults are massively underreported in the United States due to fear, shame, embarrassment, and other reasons.
However, some victims of sexual abuse and assault choose not to report such crimes because they do not realize that they can be entitled to compensation through civil litigation. More importantly, with a Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault lawyer by your side, you may be able to hold the perpetrator criminally liable.
What is the Age of Consent in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, no minor under the age of 16 can consent to sexual intercourse or conduct regardless of whether the sexual act in question was consensual. The age of consent is 16 in Pennsylvania, though there is the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exception.
In Pennsylvania, the accused can avoid being convicted of statutory rape if he or she was having a sexual relationship with a person within four years of one another.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse?
There are two statutes of limitations to keep in mind, those for minors and those for adults. When an adult suffers from sexual assault or abuse, they will have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
Children and minors will have until their 30th birthday to file a civil lawsuit. While these limits exist, it is essential to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. Evidence can be difficult to come by as more time passes, and these cases can be challenging to take to court. While not impossible, all evidence must be preserved to get a conviction.
It would help if you also remembered that while you can file a lawsuit against an individual, you also have the option to file a suit against an entire institution. It can be found that an institution is found guilty of protecting offenders and concealing allegations. They may have even failed to report these crimes to keep their reputation in tack. Your Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault lawyer will diligently hold all parties accountable for these heinous actions.
What is ‘Deviate Sexual Intercourse’ in Pennsylvania?
Not all sex acts must involve vaginal penetration to be considered a form of sexual assault or rape. In Pennsylvania, there is a law that recognizes other, “deviate” acts to hold a perpetrator criminally liable for sexually assaulting another person.
Some of the most common forms of “deviate sexual intercourse” are fellatio, cunnilingus, as well as anal and oral penetration. Pennsylvania law considers it sexual abuse when a sex act or “deviate sexual intercourse” involves both the perpetrator inserting their penis into the victim’s mouth and the perpetrator forcing the victim’s penis into their mouth.
Are There Any Differences Between Criminal and Civil Standards in Sexual Abuse Cases?
Under Pennsylvania law, you have a right to pursue a sexual abuse claim against the abuser in a civil suit regardless of whether the criminal court has prosecuted the perpetrator.
The standards between a civil and criminal sexual abuse case are very different, which is why you need to seek help from a Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault attorney.
One of the most significant differences between the two is the amount of evidence that is necessary to prove the crime.
In a criminal sexual abuse case, you need to demonstrate evidence that the act of sexual abuse or assault occurred “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In other words, you need to demonstrate sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant committed the alleged acts.
In a civil sexual abuse case, meanwhile, you may be entitled to compensation even if there is no absolute certainty that the abuser committed the crime. In civil cases, courts rely on a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means the evidence presented by you and your attorney must indicate that there was at least a 50 percent chance that your claims are true.
Either way, it is vital to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney who will present your sexual abuse or assault case most convincingly and gather all available types of evidence.
What Kind of Evidence Do You Need for my Case?
As we have mentioned, there must be substantial evidence present for a conviction in these cases. You might be wondering what evidence should be collected and preserved. The evidence that can be crucial to your case includes:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Police report that detail the assault or rape
- Medical records showing harm and signs of abuse
- Financial statements that show costs associated with the assault, such as medical treatment and psychiatric help
- Admission of guilt from the perpetrator
While some of this evidence may be readily available to you, other evidence a Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault lawyer will need to request. Whether you are filing a criminal or a civil lawsuit, you will need a substantial amount of evidence. This can truly make or break your case.
What Defenses to Expect in a Sexual Assault or Abuse Case?
When facing rape or sexual abuse charges, the defendant and his or her criminal defense lawyer can pursue the following types of defenses:
- The sexual act was consensual;
- The “Romeo and Juliet” defense, which applies in cases of statutory rape (discussed above);
- “Somebody else did it” (the so-called “mistaken identity” defense);
- Involuntary intoxication (the abuser was forced or tricked into consuming alcohol or drugs without knowledge or consent); or
In the last two defenses, the abuser is required to prove involuntary intoxication or insanity by a preponderance of the evidence. In the past, the defendant could use the “marital exemption,” but New York law no longer recognizes the difference between married and unmarried persons in sexual abuse and assault cases.
Speak With One Of Our New Jersey And Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Lawyers
Please call 215-929-7216 or contact us online to schedule a free confidential consultation with one of our lawyers. Our Philadelphia sexual abuse and assault lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and fight to hold the responsible party accountable.