Victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse often struggle with how to respond to the crime. You may be wondering about your rights as a victim in criminal or civil court:
- What if the police fail to arrest my abuser?
- How can others who failed to stop the abuse be held liable?
- How can civil courts help in ways criminal courts can't?
Our experienced West Virginia victims' rights lawyers can help answer your concerns in a free consultation.
Victims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse deserve to see the parties responsible brought to justice.
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If you or a loved one has recently become the victim of sexual assault or child sexual abuse, you may be troubled with concerns about the legal system. Many victims are curious how long their abuser will be behind bars. We've summarized the West Virginia criminal sexual assault statutes below as a reference point for survivors struggling with these questions. However, sexual assault laws are sometimes outdated and may be frequently updated. In order to understand how current criminal laws could apply to your case, you may need to discuss your situation with an experienced victims' rights lawyer.
Sexual Assault & Child Sex Abuse Laws In West Virginia
In order to get the full support and accountability you deserve, it's often necessary to take a sexual assault or abuse case to civil court. A lawsuit can help hold all liable parties accountable - including the offender himself, along with any third parties who failed to do all that they could to prevent, report, or appropriately respond to the assault.
Our West Virginia sexual abuse victim's lawyers have a background in the criminal side of this process, but have since transitioned into the civil court systems. We did this because we care about helping victims, and we understand that criminal courts primarily focus on punishing offenders. If your family is overwhelmed and looking for answers, we can guide you through the process of seeking justice. Just get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
In West Virginia, sex-related crimes are classified into five categories, with varying degrees depending on the circumstances of the crime. The age of consent is 16 in WV, so people under 16 are legally unable to give consent.
Sexual abuse involves any form of sexual contact without consent. These crimes are broken down into three degrees:
- Third degree – Occurs when the offender is younger than 16 years old or less than four years older than the victim. Even if the victim gave consent, legally this means nothing if they are younger than the age of consent. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
- Second degree – These charges are applied when the victim could not consent to sexual contact because he or she was mentally defective (e.g. suffering from an intellectual disability) or mentally incapacitated (e.g. too drunk to give consent). A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or a maximum fine of $500.
- First degree – The most serious charges are applied in cases involving either: (a) an offender over 14 years old and a victim younger than 12 years old, (b) a physically helpless victim, (c) sexual contact initiated by forcible compulsion.
Sexual Abuse By Parent, Guardian, Custodian Or Person In A Position Of Trust To Child
West Virginia has a separate law for cases involving sexual abuse of children by parents, guardians, or other adults who they trust (such as religious leaders, doctors, etc). This crime is a felony which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Sexual assault charges involve sexual intercourse or intrusion and are also divided into three classifications of severity:
- Third degree – These charges apply to cases involving either: (a) an offender over 16 years old engaging in sexual intercourse or intrusion with someone under 16 years old and more than four years younger than the offender OR (b) cases involving a mentally defective or mentally incapacitated victim. Felony punishable by 1-5 years in a state prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Second degree – Reserved for cases involving physically helpless victims or forcible compulsion. Punishable by 10-25 years in a state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
- First degree – First-degree charges are applied in cases involving: (a) an offender over 14 years old and a victim under 12 years old, (b) the use of a deadly weapon in the crime, (c) offenders who inflict serious bodily injury during the crime.
Imposition Of Sexual Acts On Persons Incarcerated Or Under Supervision
In West Virginia, it is illegal for any parole officer, probation officer, corrections officer, or any other person employed by the Division of Corrections to engage in sexual contact with an inmate or someone they are supervising. This is a felony punishable by 1-5 years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
West Virginia state law prohibits sexual contact between close relatives. Anyone who engages in sexual activity with a parent, sibling, offspring, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle is guilty of incest. This is a felony punishable by 5-15 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $5,000.
Help For Sexual Assault & Abuse Victims In West Virginia
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of sexual abuse or assault, we understand the pain you’re going through. It’s important to know that there are resources available for people in your situation. While it may be difficult to ask for help, the right support network can make your recovery much easier. Our West Virginia sexual assault lawyers can help you explore your legal options, while these victims’ resources are available for additional support: