Child and adult sex abuse, rape, and misconduct cases are complex - both legally and emotionally. At our firm, you will find a caring group of attorneys who fight to help sexual abuse survivors regain their voices after an unspeakable trauma.
- Attorneys with decades of experience in this practice area
- Former sex crimes prosecutors who have worked to lock up predators
- Caring legal staff dedicated to protecting your confidentiality
- 24/7 support and a national network of award-winning lawyers
Trust us to handle your case. We will not let you down. Our only goal is to help you find the strength that already lies inside.
We have assembled a strong, experienced team of litigators.
One of the most difficult challenges confronting sexual abuse survivors is facing the reality of what has happened to you. Sexual assault and abuse bring forth a wide and difficult range of emotions, including pain, anger, depression and, in some cases, even shame. Reporting an assault to the police, deciding to press charges, testifying in court - these steps toward justice may seem more like ways to reopen wounds than restore some balance to the world.
Sex Abuse Victims Deserve An Advocate
At Abuse Guardian, we believe that sex offenders should be punished to the full extent of the law, and that entails criminal prosecution. But America's criminal justice system was not intended to support the survivors of sex abuse. In most cases, it fails them.
Our sexual assault lawyers are devoted to protecting the best interests of abuse victims. We believe that for many survivors, filing a personal injury lawsuit can make up for some of the failings endemic to criminal justice.
You are not alone. Stepping forward is difficult, but it's not impossible. It can be extremely empowering to find the strength within you. We've devoted our lives to helping survivors just like you find their voices and make a change in the world. It's time to raise your voice.
Criminal prosecution makes little effort to compensate survivors, most of whom experience the physical and psychological effects of violent trauma long after an assault. Our goal is to protect the dignity, safety and on-going security of every client, with individual attention and compassion.
Meet Our Team Of Trusted Abuse Attorneys
Each state has its own statutes of limitations and law specific to sexual abuse claims in that jurisdiction. Abuse Guardian has worked diligently to select "Abuse Guardians" in each state, who are attorneys that are licensed to practice in that state and who we deem to be experienced in handling such cases.
Lawyers that are awarded the "Abuse Guardian" endorsement are members of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, an organization of lawyers who dedicate a large portion of their practice, if not all their practice, to representing victims of crime and survivors of sexual abuse and assault.
To learn more about the sexual abuse attorneys that work in your specific state, select the state below.
National Network Of Attorneys
AbuseGuardian.com is sponsored by a national network of sexual abuse and assault attorneys, legal professionals devoted to ensuring that the rights of survivors are protected. To find resources specific to your state, click one of the links below:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What Kind Of Lawyer Handles Sexual Assault?
District attorneys (and teams of assistant or deputy district attorneys) handle federal criminal cases against abusers. They represent the government, not survivors. State's attorneys handle state criminal cases against offenders. They represent the state, not survivors.
Personal injury (or "trial") lawyers represent survivors of sexual abuse in the civil court system. Trial attorneys can file lawsuits on behalf of victims against either abusers or "third parties," like an apartment owner whose negligence allowed an assault to occur or a Church leader who hid allegations of sexual abuse from the authorities.
Civil attorneys shine a light on survivors' voices, putting them in control of their own cases. We give a voice to the voiceless, while providing compassionate protection, a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand to guide them. Since sexual assault is a sensitive issue, we fully understand that confidentiality is a priority for many survivors. Everything you tell us will be protected by an attorney/client privilege, ensuring that your story is kept with the utmost confidence.
Can I Sue The Person Who Assaulted Me Or My Loved One?
Survivors of sexual assault, including rape and childhood sexual abuse, have every right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the abuser and any third-parties whose negligence may have contributed to the crime.
This is true whether or not the abuser was criminally prosecuted. Survivors can win civil lawsuits even if the offender was acquitted of criminal charges, although a legal theory called "collateral estoppel" may make it easier to win a civil suit after someone has been convicted for the same crimes.
Filing a lawsuit is a major decision, one that you should only make after considering your options fully. We know that you have the strength inside to move forward, conquer your fears and share your story. If you're thinking about making the courageous step of coming forward, contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation.
Burdens Of Proof
Civil and criminal cases are very different. For one, they have different "burdens of proof." In a criminal case, the state has to prove that the accused committed a crime "beyond a reasonable doubt." This requires a lot of proof, and it's more rigorous than the standard in personal injury trials.
In a civil case, survivors have to prove that it's "more likely than not" they were harmed by the defendant. Effectively, this means that civil juries don't need to be as confident of a person's liability as they have to be in a criminal case.
What Can I Do To Press Charges?
After reporting an assault to the police, victims are usually asked if they want to "press charges." Pressing charges is essentially a request to proceed with the investigation.
While state prosecutors make the ultimate decision of whether to press charges for sexual abuse, few criminal investigations proceed without the participation of a survivor. Criminal prosecutors can decide not to press charges if they feel unable to prove an accused person's guilt, and the testimony of a victim is usually their cornerstone evidence.
Why Are So Few Sex Crimes Prosecuted?
For survivors, this entire process can be terrifying. Sexual abuse is almost always family violence. When it's not, most survivors are at least acquainted with the victimizer. Standing up to a family member, friend or someone you once trusted can seem impossible. But without making a report and demanding further investigation, it's unlikely that the offender will face any legal consequences.
Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation bears this difficulty out. Of every 100 rapes, only 3 are ultimately passed on to criminal prosecutors. Less than 1% of rapes result in an arrest.
That's why civil litigation is so important. Most abusers never see justice through the criminal justice system. Instead, justice is more often done when individual survivors stand up and make their voices heard. Our personal injury attorneys can help you find the strength inside to make this brave choice.
How Do I Get A Restraining Order?
Half of all sexual assaults occur within 1 mile of a victim's home or in their home, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. No one deserves to live like this and you have the power to change your circumstances.
There's no way to feel safe if the person who raped you sleeps in the same bedroom. It may be difficult to leave, but you need to get out of there. Don't blame yourself. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Sexual assault is never your fault. Every person has the right to basic safety. Go to a friend or relative's house, and bring your children if you have any.
Now consider getting a restraining order, a legal document that instructs sex offenders to stay away from their victims or suffer criminal punishments. We urge you to contact a sexual assault lawyer who can help outline the process for securing a protective order where you live, or refer you to local counsel who can help. It's another step on the path to safety.
What Happens If Someone Violates A Restraining Order?
Legally, someone who violates a restraining order is considered "in contempt of court." That means they violated (purposefully disobeyed) the court's order and can be arrested, put in jail or charged with a criminal misdemeanor or felony. Contact the police immediately whenever a restraining order is violated.
Is It Too Late To Sue?
Every area of civil law comes with a "statute of limitations," a law that creates a time limit for filing lawsuits. File after the statute is up and the case will be thrown out of court immediately. To complicate the matter, these deadlines vary widely from state to state.
In your research, make sure not to confuse the civil and criminal statute of limitations in your state. The former applies to filing personal injury lawsuits, while the latter governs only criminal charges for sexual abuse.
Statutes Of Limitations For Criminal Charges
In many states, there's no criminal statute of limitations on violent sexual offenses committed against minors. Some states give survivors a set number of years after they reach the age of majority (between 18 and 21, depending on the state) to press criminal charges. For adults who were sexually assaulted, criminal statutes of limitations differ substantially, both depending on state and the nature of the crime, so you'll have to research the specific law that holds for your situation.
For a full list of criminal sex abuse statutes of limitations, organized by state, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Statutes Of Limitations For Civil Sex Offender Lawsuits
Read our full guide on the civil statutes of limitations for sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse here.
Most states have recognized that sexual abuse during childhood causes a wide range of psychological reactions, many of which prevent survivors from realizing the nature or severity of what's happened to them until long after any actual assault.
In these cases, the civil statute of limitations is usually "tolled," stopped or extended to allow victims the time necessary to come to terms with their abuse and decide on a proper course of action. Effectively, these "delayed discovery" rules extend the statute of limitations to account for repressed memories and emotional trauma. With that being said, note that the rules will be different from state to state, and some places (like Alabama) have far stricter deadlines.
We suggest checking the complete list of sex abuse civil statutes of limitations at the National Conference of State Legislatures to find your state. Be aware that those time limits only apply for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Civil cases involving adult victims of sexual assault are more restricted. Each state has its own sex crime laws, which you can find here, but the statutes generally range from 1 to 6 years after the date of assault. Fewer states have "delayed discovery" rules to toll the statute of limitations for adult survivors, but some do.
Who You Sue Matters
The civil statute of limitations may also change depending on who you sue. Each state will have one statute that applies if you're filing suit against an offender, and another statute that will apply to cases filed against "third parties," like businesses where inadequate security led to an assault. Generally, these third party "premises liability" lawsuits are governed by a 2 year statute of limitations, but again there's a lot of variation in this area of the law.
Finally, in some states, the criminal charges filed against a sex offender determine how long survivors have to file a civil lawsuit.
How Much Will A Sexual Assault Lawyer Cost?
We're not in the business of becoming a burden. We believe justice should be open to all, regardless of personal circumstances, and understand that sexual abuse often comes with its own set of financial pressures. That's why our sexual offense attorneys always offer their representation on a contingency-fee basis: until we win, you don't pay.
Learning more about your legal options comes at no charge. Contact our lawyers today and you'll receive a completely confidential consultation for free. We know that we can help you find the power inside you to step forward and fight for justice, coming to a degree of closure with what happened to you. We believe your story, and we believe it should be told.