Sexual Assault

We are proud to announce that we partnered with our colleagues at TLO-law, and other advocates, to enact new legislation which became effective on January 1, 2023. AB 2777, also known as the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, has gone into effect in California, extending the statute of limitations to victims for sexual assaults that occurred on or after January 1, 2009. Reach out to discuss whether you can file a claim for your assault under the new bill.

Our firm understands the deep complexities involved with sexual assault crimes.  We use our trauma informed methodology in everything we do – from intake, investigation, court preparation, and all steps in between.  Our approach is survivor centered coupled with fierce advocacy.

You Are Not Alone

Sexual assault is more common than most are aware.  In fact, every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted[1]. Although women are often the target of sexual assault, it affects all sexes, genders, and sexual orientations. Over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.[2] Moreover, sexual assault often occurs early, more than 4 in 5 female rape survivors reported that they were first raped before age 25 and almost half were first raped as a minor (i.e., before age 18)[3]. Not only does sexual assault have immediate physical and psychological effects on survivors, but it also negatively impacts the framework for a survivor’s intimate relationships in the future.  For example, girls who have been sexually abused are more likely to experience additional sexual violence and other violence types and become victims of intimate partner violence in adulthood[4].

Civil Liability in California

Fortunately, the law in California is also beneficial for survivors. For example, the law grants a childhood sexual assault survivor 22 years from the age of majority (or age 40) to file a civil suit[5].  California law also gives adult sexual assault survivors 10 years to file a civil suit[6].

Recently ADZ helped enact new legislation ensuring that the 10-year statute of limitations for adult sexual assault survivors applied retroactively.  The adult sexual assault statute (CCP 340.16) was a huge step forward in recognizing the impact of sexual abuse and providing access to justice.  This means that if you previously thought you had a time-barred claim for a sexual assault that occurred between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012, you have until 2026 to bring a civil claim. For more information on this new legislation, read our blog article here.

Third-Party Liability for Sexual Assault

Did you know that civil suits can also be brought against business and/or public entities that helped to perpetuate the abuse[7].  When there is an entity, such as a school or employer, who had a duty to keep you safe, but broke that obligation by ignoring signs of sexually inappropriate behavior, ignored warnings or complaints, or failed to supervise a perpetrator, that entity might then be liable for the harm which could have been prevented.

If you think a business or public entity might be responsible for your sexual assault, either because they acted or failed to act in a way that allowed or enabled the abuse to continue, we can help.

Criminal Consequences for Sex Offenders

California law provides criminal and civil options to the victims of sexual assault to assist them in overcoming their experience, and restore their dignity. Sex crimes generally include coerced sexual conduct against another person without her or his consent. Common sex crimes include:

  • Rape: Penetration or sexual intercourse with someone (other than the person’s spouse) who does not provide consent. (There are also separate crimes for date rape, spousal rape, and statutory rape.)
  • Sexual Battery: Touching another person’s intimate parts against that person’s will for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or sexual abuse
  • Child Molestation: Lewd or lascivious acts with children under age 14 or involving force or fear
  • Child Sexual Abuse Images: Creating or distributing sexual images of children under the age of consent
  • Sex Trafficking: Forcing someone (an adult or child) to engage in sexual labor or services
  • Domestic Violence: Sexual assault and other physical violence against spouses, family members, and members of the person’s household

The victims of sex crimes’ voices often go unheard during the criminal prosecution process. California sexual assault victims have the right to receive restitution as part of sentencing. At ADZ Law, LLP, we help clients receive fair restitution for the harm done to them. We also assist in registering their restitution orders as civil judgments, and collect on those judgments on our clients’ behalf.

California Victims’ Bill of Rights

Marsy’s Law provides the California victims of crimes, including rape and sexual assault, with specific rights, including:

  • To be treated fairly and respectfully
  • To protect their privacy and dignity
  • To be free from further intimidation, harassment, or abuse during the criminal process
  • To be protected from the defendant and those acting on his or her behalf
  • To have their safety considered in setting bail
  • To refuse to be interviewed, deposed, or answer discovery before trial
  • To meet with the prosecutor regarding the defendant’s arrest or charges
  • To notice when the case is resolved before trial
  • To notice of criminal or juvenile delinquency court proceedings, probation and parole hearings
  • To have their property returned when no longer needed as evidence

At ADZ Law, LLP, we advocate on behalf of the victims of sexual assault to protect and exercise these rights, and ensure prosecutors, courts, and other state representatives take their needs seriously.

Civil Restitution

Regardless of whether the police choose to pursue criminal charges against the offender, victims are still entitled to file civil lawsuits to collect compensation after being sexually assaulted. Surviving a rape or other sexual assault is a traumatic experience that often has lasting physical, mental, and emotional consequences. California law allows the victims of sexual assault to raise a number of civil law claims against the offender, including:

  • Sexual Battery: Physical harmful or offensive sexual contact
  • Gender Violence: The use or threat of force against a person based in part on their gender
  • Domestic Violence: Intentional injury to a spouse, romantic partner, or co-parent
  • Image exploitation: Distributing sexually explicit images without consent (e.g. “revenge porn”)
  • Impersonation: Acting as another person on a website or social media site without consent

With no cap on the damages you receive, there are many routes we can take to get you the compensation you need to move on. Our sexual assault victims’ advocates develop strategies to hold everyone responsible for our clients’ experiences accountable. This can include:

  • The offender personally
  • Employers who ignored warning signs of sexual harassment or abuse
  • School and public entities that did not take appropriate steps to prevent abuse

What To Do If You Are a Victim of Rape or Sexual Assault

Help for rape victims and sexual assault survivors is available. However, it is essential for survivors to act quickly. The process starts by reporting the unwanted sexual contact to local police and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible. This will allow the police and medical providers to collect any physical evidence that may exist, including blood, semen, fingerprints and other biological evidence. Law enforcement will also take the victim’s statement as part of the initial investigation.

Once that initial investigation is complete, getting the assistance of a rape victims’ advocate can give survivors a much-needed intermediary to speak with police and prosecutors on their behalf, and ensure that everything is done according to the law. Getting independent legal representation early can also put pressure on law enforcement to complete their investigation and recommend charges so that survivors can receive justice and compensation more quickly than if they acted alone.

Even if you didn’t come forward right away, you can still get help seeking justice against the offender. There are many reasons why you may have waited to report what happened to you, some of them very personal. California law has a 10 year statute of limitations, which means you can still recover damages and restitution even a decade after the incident occurred. If you were a child at the time of the assault, you have even longer to come to terms with what has happened and get help.

California Sexual Assault Victims’ Lawyers

If you are the survivor of sexual assault in California and want to pursue justice or compensation from the offender who harmed you, ADZ Law, LLP will help you pursue what you are entitled to. We will support you, helping you to feel empowered, rather than intimidated by the process. We provide sexual assault legal services and assistance in the San Francisco area, San Mateo County and the and the surrounding region of California. We invite you to contact ADZ Law, LLP to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

[1] Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019 (2020).

[2] Basile KC, Smith SG, Kresnow M, Khatiwada S, & Leemis RW. (2022). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Sexual Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[3] Basile KC, Smith SG, Kresnow M, Khatiwada S, & Leemis RW. (2022). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2016/2017 Report on Sexual Violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[4] Preventing Multiple Forms of Violence: A Strategic Vision for Connecting the Dots. (2016). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[5] CCP 340.1(a)

[6] CCP 340.16(a)(1)

[7] CCP 340.1; CCP 340.1