San Francisco Sexual Assault Attorney
Sexual assault is a crime that can have devastating impacts on a survivor. If you suffered sexual assault or abuse, a local San Francisco sexual assault attorney at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can help. We can provide the support, information and legal assistance that you need to protect your future and move forward from a difficult time in your life.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual assault in California, please contact us for a free and entirely confidential consultation. We can fight for the justice and accountability that you deserve.
Why Trust Manly, Stewart & Finaldi With Your Sexual Assault Claim?
- We specialize in sexual assault and abuse cases, giving us unique experience and insights into these practice areas. We have represented hundreds of survivors in California.
- Our California sexual abuse lawyers fight for maximum results on behalf of their clients. We have obtained more than $2 billion in successful settlements and jury verdicts.
- We understand the emotional nature of these cases and can keep your identity 100 percent anonymous if desired.
What Is Sexual Assault?
According to California Penal Code 243.4, sexual assault occurs when any person touches the intimate part of another person against the victim’s will or while the victim is unlawfully restrained, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification or sexual abuse. Sexual assault refers to any unwanted or nonconsensual touching of a victim’s private parts. Examples of sexual abuse include:
- Unwanted kissing, touching or fondling
- Rape or attempted rape
- Statutory rape
- Oral copulation
- Sexual contact with someone who has been drugged
- Child molestation
- Child pornography
- Physical abuse or neglect
There are many different examples of sexual assault. Under California’s consent laws, no minor under the age of 18 is old enough to consent to sexual activities. Thus, it is against the law to engage in sexual intercourse or any sexual contact with a child under the age of 18. Doing so is sexual abuse and can result in a statutory rape charge.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Although sexual assault and sexual abuse are often used interchangeably, they technically refer to two different things. While California does not have a law specifically defining sexual abuse, it typically refers to multiple incidents of sexual assault against the same victim over a period of time, particularly when the victim is a child.
Sexual abuse is the crime of one person pressuring, forcing or coercing a victim into sexual acts without the victim’s consent. As a survivor of sexual abuse or assault, you have the right to file a lawsuit for financial compensation. Learn more by consulting with a local San Francisco sexual abuse lawyer.
How a San Francisco Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help
Sexual abuse and assault are crimes in the State of California that can lead to criminal charges against a perpetrator and penalties such as jail time and fines. As a survivor, you also have the right to file a civil claim against the perpetrator and/or the institution that did nothing to stop the abuse. A civil claim can hold someone accountable for the crime by making them pay for your related losses.
If you wish to file a civil claim, a sexual assault attorney in San Francisco can help you in many important ways. An attorney can investigate the incident and identify the correct defendant(s), as well as gather evidence to build a strong claim on your behalf. An attorney can also take over communications and negotiations with the defendant while keeping your identity private if you wish.
Types of Sexual Assault Cases We Handle
At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, we can help if you are the survivor of any form of sexual assault or abuse. We can also help if your child is the victim. Our San Francisco sexual abuse lawyers have experience handling many different types of cases within this practice area, including:
- All sex crimes, including internet sex crimes
- Rideshare sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse and molestation
- School sexual abuse
- Foster care sexual abuse
- Clergy sexual abuse
- Boy Scouts of America and other youth organizations sexual abuse
- Sports sexual abuse
- Workplace sexual assault and harassment
- Elder and nursing home sexual abuse
Our attorneys can go up against any party or entity in pursuit of justice and financial compensation. We aren’t afraid of going up against large and powerful institutions and have represented hundreds of survivors in clergy abuse cases throughout California.
Warning Signs of Sexual Assault
It is important to be aware of common signs of sexual assault if you are a parent or teacher. Children and teens often do not come forward to report sexual abuse. Instead, it is up to the adults around them to notice the signs of this crime, such as:
- Unexplained injuries, especially on or near the genitalia
- Torn or bloody undergarments
- Sexual terms or knowledge that does not match the child’s age
- Nightmares, regression or signs of post-traumatic stress disorder
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Unkempt appearance or lack of self-care
- Sudden changes in mood or personality, including outbursts and mood swings
- Signs of depression, anxiety, withdrawal or suicidal thoughts
- Substance abuse
- Urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted diseases
- Teen pregnancy or promiscuous behavior
The warning signs of sexual abuse will change according to the age of the child and the severity of the case. If you suspect sexual assault or abuse, have an open conversation with your child. Let your child know that it is a safe place and he or she is not in trouble.
Harm From Sexual Assault and Abuse
Sexual assault is a devastating crime that can have a wide range of long-lasting effects on a survivor. A victim may suffer immediate harm, such as physical wounds from violence or being restrained. However, survivors also often experience lasting trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological trauma. Sexual assault or abuse can inflict many types of physical and mental harm on victims, including:
- Physical injuries
- Injuries to the genital areas
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unwanted pregnancies
- Mental and emotional distress
- Chronic anxiety or depression
- Panic attacks
- Trouble with intimacy, trust and relationships
- Reduced self-esteem or low feelings of self-worth
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Behavioral problems or children “acting out”
- Reduced performance/productivity at school or work
- Sleep disorders
- Withdrawal or isolation from others
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
While sexual assault victims of any age can suffer severe, life-changing consequences from their experience, child victims are often impacted the most. Sexual assault or abuse at an early age can cause significant psychological trauma that affects the rest of the child’s life. Filing a lawsuit may only scratch the surface of what a victim deserves, but it is a measure of justice, support and closure. It can result in the financial compensation that a victim needs for the costs associated with sexual abuse, such as for ongoing psychological counseling and medications.
Civil vs. Criminal Sexual Assault Cases
Sexual assault is a crime as well as a civil tort in California. This means someone who commits sexual assault or abuse can face both criminal and civil penalties. A criminal case against an abuser is entirely separate from a civil lawsuit brought by a victim or his or her representative. A criminal case is pursued by a prosecutor. The purpose of a criminal case is to determine if a criminal offense has taken place and to punish the defendant with a sentence, if so. It can result in penalties such as jail or prison time for the perpetrator.
A civil sexual assault lawsuit in San Francisco, on the other hand, is filed by a survivor to make him or her whole again. The goal of a civil claim is to hold a perpetrator legally accountable and financially responsible for the harm that a victim suffered. A successful civil case can result in financial compensation being paid to the plaintiff by the defendant to restore the former to the monetary position he or she would have been in had the sexual assault not occurred. The same defendant can face both criminal charges and civil liability for sexual assault at the same time.
One of the key differences between a civil and criminal sexual assault case is the burden of proof. This refers to the amount of evidence that must be provided by the filing party – the prosecutor or plaintiff – to find the defendant guilty or liable. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” A civil lawsuit has a lesser burden of proof – a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is more likely to be at fault than not at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries or harm.
Who Is Liable for Sexual Assault?
Bringing a sexual assault civil lawsuit in San Francisco requires identifying the defendant or liable party. While the obvious choice is the perpetrator, there are other possibilities, as well. In many cases, an institution can be held financially responsible for a victim’s sexual assault or abuse. This could be the case if the institution was negligent in preventing the crime, such as a school that failed to conduct proper background checks on new teachers or a company that ignored sexual assault complaints.
Potential defendants in a sexual assault civil claim include:
- The individual perpetrator: the person who committed the act of sexual assault or abuse against the victim could be held responsible for his or her individual crimes. However, individuals typically do not have as much insurance coverage as larger institutions and corporations to pay claimants.
- An institution: many different institutions could be held responsible for sexual assault if they failed to protect the victim. This includes schools, after-school programs, camps, churches, health care providers, employers and many others. Holding an institution liable could result in a higher payout, as well as changes on an institutional level.
- A third party: some cases involve third-party liability, meaning someone who was not directly involved in the crime but who contributed to it through an act of negligence. Examples include a property owner for negligent security or a public entity or the government.
You may have grounds to bring a sexual assault or abuse lawsuit against one or multiple parties in San Francisco. An attorney from Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can carefully investigate your case to determine the defendant(s). Holding multiple parties responsible for the crime that harmed you or a loved one increases your chances of recovering full and fair financial compensation. We will exhaust every outlet to identify who played a role in the heinous crime committed against you.
What to Do If You Were Sexually Abused
If you were sexually abused or assaulted, there are steps you can take to protect your legal rights. These include steps for the immediate aftermath of sexual assault as well as steps if the abuse occurred years ago:
- Get to a safe place. Your safety is the top priority. Go to a trusted friend or family member’s home or have them come to you.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from trained professionals who know what to do. You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, for example.
- Call 911. Speaking up against sexual violence can be difficult, but it is important if you wish to bring the perpetrator to justice.
- Go to a hospital. Have a friend accompany you to a hospital for a sexual assault forensic exam within at least three days of the attack.
- Consult with an attorney. Once you have ensured your safety and health, consult with a San Francisco sexual assault attorney for assistance.
If a friend or loved one comes to you with a story of sexual assault or abuse, believe them. Help your friend get the professional assistance he or she needs, including representation from a sexual assault lawyer near you.
How Much Does a Sexual Assault Attorney in San Francisco Cost?
At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, we stand with sexual assault survivors in every way. We make the legal experience as easy and stress-free as possible for our clients, including in how we charge attorney’s fees. Our law firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t charge the client a dime in attorney’s fees unless we secure a financial recovery.
Our sexual assault lawyers charge $0 upfront. We offer free initial case consultations that are completely confidential. If we don’t win your case, you will owe us nothing in legal fees. If we are successful in securing a settlement or judgment award, we will charge our fee as a percentage of the overall amount won. That way, you never have to pay us out of pocket for our services.
Does a Sexual Assault or Abuse Claim Have to Go to Trial?
No. The majority of sexual assault civil lawsuits in California do not go to trial; they are successfully resolved with insurance settlement agreements. Insurance companies are incentivized to reach settlements since trials cost more money and are riskier for the insurer. Settlements are private and can remain confidential between the parties involved. They are also faster than court trials.
If a defendant or insurance corporation denies liability or refuses to offer a fair settlement to a sexual assault survivor in San Francisco, the case may need to go to court. In this scenario, our trial attorneys are prepared. We can keep your identity anonymous and attend hearings for you, if desired. Our attorneys have gone up against many powerful adversaries before judges and juries. We have over 25 years of experience navigating courtrooms. We will do what it takes to achieve the case results that you deserve.
Time Limits for Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim in California
There is a statewide time limit on filing a civil sexual assault or abuse claim in California. A law known as the statute of limitations controls this time limit. If you miss your deadline, you will give up the right to file a claim and pursue financial compensation. This is why you should always contact an attorney as soon as possible about a potential sexual assault lawsuit.
In California, the law was recently changed to increase the amount of time a sexual assault survivor has to bring a claim. Currently, you have until your 40th birthday or five years from the date you discovered the abuse if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. If you were over 18, you have 10 years from the most recent act of sexual assault or abuse or 3 years from the date of discovery to file.
Compensation for San Francisco Survivors of Sexual Assault
Our San Francisco sexual abuse attorneys understand that no amount of money can make up for living through sexual abuse or assault. Obtaining compensation through a civil lawsuit, however, can give you the justice, accountability and closure you need to move forward. You may be eligible for financial compensation for the following economic and noneconomic losses:
- Medical expenses
- Medications, such as antidepressants
- Therapy and counseling
- Relocation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Psychological trauma
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Lost wages
- Legal fees
There are numerous possibilities in terms of outlets for financial compensation for sexual abuse survivors in California. If the defendant cannot afford a settlement or verdict, you may be able to recover through CalVCB instead. This is a potential source of compensation in California after all other outlets are exhausted, such as civil lawsuits and insurance. Our lawyers will help you seek maximum financial compensation through all available means.
Contact a Sexual Assault Attorney in San Francisco, CA Today
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault or abuse in San Francisco, CA, don’t hesitate to contact us. The experienced San Francisco sexual assault lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can help you through every step of a civil lawsuit in the pursuit of justice and maximum financial compensation. Schedule your free consultation today by calling (800) 700-8450 or contacting us online anytime.