Are You A Victim Of Sexual Assault On Campus?

There's been a national furor in recent months over the case of Brock Turner, the former Stanford student and athlete that was sentenced to only 6 months in jail for 3 counts of sexual assault on an unconscious woman. It was the painful and pointed letter from his victim that may have set the internet on fire, as she brought to light the way that sexual assault victims can be treated. This case helps illustrate why many sexual assault victims hire an attorney. If you've been victimized at your college, this is what you need to know.

You may need to push the prosecution to bring charges.

Prosecutors can be leery of moving forward with sexual assault cases unless they have a clearly winnable case, and many cases aren't clearly winnable—especially when they occur between acquaintances. In the case of Brock Turner's victim, the young woman met him at a party she was attending with her sister. By her own admission, she drank too heavily. The defense argued that if she was too drunk to remember what happened, then she was simply too drunk to recall that she consented to sex on the ground behind a dumpster. An attorney can help advocate your case for you if the prosecution is more concerned about a win/loss record.

You may need to file a civil suit.

Whether the prosecutor takes the case to a criminal trial or not, you may need to file a personal injury case. You may have medical expenses related to your sexual assault, counseling costs, lost wages (if you work in addition to going to school), and lost tuition (if you have taken time off from classes, dropped out, or switched schools). In addition, you can seek compensation for your considerable pain and suffering.

Keep in mind that the standard of evidence that's required to win a civil suit against your assaulter is different in a civil case than in a criminal one. In a criminal case, the jury has to be convinced "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the person who assaulted you is guilty. That's significantly higher than the burden of proof used in personal injury claims, which is "by a preponderance of evidence." Essentially, it means that the jury only has to be 51% convinced of your attacker's guilt to hold him or her liable.

As you proceed, keep in mind that you aren't alone: 23% of female college students report unwanted sexual contact. Whether you hope to hold your attacker accountable in civil court or criminal court, you'll help protect future victims by your actions. Talk to an attorney today.