Survivors of sexual assault and child sexual abuse should be aware that they can find justice in both criminal and civil courts. If your family is in this difficult situation, you may be wondering:
- How does my state's criminal justice system prosecute sex crimes?
- What can I do if there's no arrest or conviction?
- Can I sue organizations that enabled the sexual abuse?
Our New Hampshire sexual abuse victims' lawyers can help you find justice in a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Sexual predators aren't the only ones that need to be held accountable for sexual abuse. The organizations that have enabled them must pay too.
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If you or someone you love has recently been sexually assaulted or suffered as the victim of child sexual abuse, you may have many questions. It’s common to wonder how the sexual predator who violated you or a loved one will be punished for their heinous crimes. A successful conviction can help give families a sense of relief and makes sure that the perpetrator responsible for the crime is taken off the streets before he or she can harm other victims. We’ve summarized the main New Hampshire sexual crime statutes used to prosecute sexual offenders in the section below.
New Hampshire's Criminal Laws For Sexual Assault & Child Abuse
While criminal prosecution is a priority after any crime of sexual violence, it’s important for victims to be aware of their legal options in the civil court system. A civil child sexual assault or child sexual abuse lawsuit can help demand accountability from both the person responsible for committing the crime and anyone else who enabled the act through negligence. For example, business owners who fail to provide proper security for their properties, organizations who fail to screen employees and volunteers working with children, and employers who fail to run background checks on employees can all be held liable in these lawsuits.
Filing a lawsuit may not be your first concern as a survivor, but these claims are often the only ways victims can recover the financial support they need. Sometimes, the criminal justice system fails when police fail to make arrests or juries fail to convict. In these scenarios, a civil lawsuit can also offer legal recourse for victims who feel their offender unfairly walked away without punishment.
Child Sexual Abuse
According to New Hampshire law, child sexual abuse involves any of the following activities:
- Employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or having a child assist anyone else to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct;
- Rape, molestation, prostitution, or another form of sexual exploitation of children
A child is defined as anyone under 18 years of age.
New Hampshire law requires certain professionals who regularly work with children to report suspected child abuse as soon as possible. Professionals with this legal obligation as mandated reporters include:
- Medical and mental health care professionals
- Teachers and school officials
- Daycare workers
- Foster care providers and workers
- Social workers
- Law enforcement officials
- Religious clergy and officials
Aggravated Felonious Sexual Assault
A person can be convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person under any of the following circumstances:
- Through the use of physical force, violence, or superior physical strength against the victim
- When the victim is physically helpless and unable to resist
- When the person coerces the victim to submit to the sexual penetration through threats of physical violence or superior physical strength
- When the offender threatens to retaliate against the victim or any other person
- The victim submits due to false imprisonment, kidnapping, or extortion
- The offender gives the victim an intoxicating substance without their knowledge or consent
- The offender provides therapy, medical treatment, or examination of the victim and uses this therapeutic or treating relationship to coerce the victim to submit
- The offender forces sexual penetration before the victim has a chance to flee or resist
- The victim verbally or by conduct indicated that they do not consent to the act
- The offender is in a position of authority (such as a probation or parole officer) and uses this position to coerce the victim to submit
Aggravated felonious sexual assault is a Class A felony punishable by 10-20 years in prison, but longer sentences and lifetime supervision are often ordered when the offender has prior sex crime convictions.
Felonious Sexual Assault
Felonious sexual assault charges apply in cases involving sexual contact without penetration. A person can be considered guilty of this crime if they subject a person to sexual contact under any of the following circumstances:
- Sexual contact which causes a personal injury to the victim under any of the conditions listed under aggravated felonious sexual assault
- Sexual penetration with another person when that other person is between 13-15 years old and the offender is at least 4 years older
- Sexual contact with a person who is under 13 years old
- Sexual contact with a person, or causing the person to engage in sexual contact on himself when the offender is in a position of authority over the victim and uses that authority to coerce the victim to submit to the sexual contact.
This Class B felony is punishable by 1-7 years in prison.
A person is guilty of sexual assault if he or she:
- Subjects someone 13 years of age or older to sexual contact under any of the circumstances listed under aggravated felonious sexual assault
- Engages in sexual contact with someone between 13-15 years old and the age difference is at least 5 years
- In the absence of circumstances described under aggravated felonious sexual assault, the person engages in sexual penetration with someone between 13-15 years old and the age difference is at least 4 years.
Sexual assault is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in prison.