pink highlighter over word rape in dictionary entryIn California, sexual offenses include multiple charges, each covering a different type of offense. Our Orange County sexual assault lawyer says the crime a particular perpetrator is charged with depends on several factors, including the age of the victim, the location of the attack, and the circumstances of the assault.

Sex Crimes in California

California considers many sexual acts that involve the use of coercion or force as sex crimes. However, “sex crimes” is a broad term that covers rape, sexual assault, and other criminal acts.


Rape is defined as a forcible and penetrative sex act performed against a person’s will. An individual could be charged with rape if they ignore verbal or physical resistance from a victim or abuse someone who is incapable of consenting because they are asleep, heavily intoxicated, or sedated.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery could cover a forcible rape. However, it also encompasses other forms of unwanted sexual contact, including but not limited to:

  • Kissing
  • Groping
  • Fondling
  • Digital penetration
  • Forced contact

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is another term that covers many different forms of wrongdoing. Generally, though, sexual harassment refers to:

  • Quid pro quo harassment, when an employer, supervisor, or another person in a position of authority demands or suggests that a subordinate engage in sexual activities to retain their job, secure a promotion, or avoid adverse employment actions, up to and including termination.
  • Hostile work environment harassment, which could occur when a person faces sex-based discrimination. A hostile work environment could be present even when a victim is not subjected to any sexual offers, advances, or overtures. Instead, a hostile work environment could be comprised of recurring jokes, degrading comments, or sexist remarks relating to an individual’s biological sex or gender identity.

Child Sexual Abuse

California has many different laws and statutes intended to protect children from predation and punish suspected perpetrators. Child sex abuse offenses include:

  • The possession, sale, or manufacture of child pornography
  • Child prostitution or trafficking
  • Sodomy
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a minor by force or by fear

California law recognizes that children may find it exceedingly difficult to report abuse, especially if the abuser is an immediate family member, friend, or relative. Consequently, California has an extended statute of limitations for child sex abuse acts, allowing victims to file civil claims as adults.

What to Do If You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

If you have been sexually assaulted, you likely feel violated and emotionally traumatized—perhaps even in physical pain. When you are out of danger, you could take these steps to bolster your chances of holding your attacker responsible for their wrongdoing:

  • Seek immediate medical attention. Most medical centers have staff who are trained to recognize the signs of sexual trauma. While you might be reluctant to approach a hospital after an attack, speaking to a health care professional is often the best way to acquire and retain evidence of a sexual assault. 
  • Report the crime. You could contact law enforcement to report a sexual assault. If you are unwilling or unable to speak to the police, you should still confide in someone trusted.
  • Preserve evidence. Even if you could not report your assault or visit a medical clinic, you could still preserve the clothes you were wearing during the attack. Place them inside a safe, sealable container. They could be examined by forensic professionals when you are ready to initiate a criminal complaint or civil case.
  • Contact an attorney. You do not need to file a police report or wait for a suspect to be convicted of a crime before taking legal action. Case Barnett Law could work with law enforcement to bring an assaulter to justice. We could also help with an investigation, collect evidence, and prepare a rigorous, fact-based case to get you the justice you deserve.

Sexual Assault Lawsuits and Damages

California’s criminal justice system can charge individuals with crimes and attempt to prosecute them. However, even if a perpetrator is successfully prosecuted and convicted, the criminal justice system is not designed to compensate sexual assault survivors for their financial losses and emotional distress. That is the responsibility of the civil judiciary.

Even if your attacker is found not guilty, you could still press a claim for damages. You could receive compensation for:

  • Your medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of intimacy in a relationship

California does not currently cap damages in sexual assault lawsuits.

Case Barnett Law Could Help You Get Justice

If you, or a loved one, have been the victim of sexual assault, Case Barnett Law’s compassionate Costa Mesa personal injury attorney team could help you get the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. Please call us at 949-861-0055 or send us a message online to schedule your free consultation.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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